Last week I had coffee with my local senator. Okay, to be fair, I had water but nonetheless, we sat down and met for an extended time. I walked away better understanding her position on issues of interest to me and I hope she felt the same.
It all began with a fifteen minute meeting. I scheduled a meeting with my senator in her office on Presidents Day. It was a busy day, lobbyists filled the hill, and sev
eral bills were being heard. She squeezed me in at 8:45. Our meeting was short but she offered to meet a few days later when she was in her home district. I was grateful she was willing to extend her personal time and I took her up on that offer.
Five days later I was at her house talking one on one about everything from meeting the teaching shortage to TRI (time, responsibility, incentive) pay. We even discussed the elephant in the room- education funding. Here’s the thing- I felt heard. I felt engaged. I felt powerful. I felt like I was able to share my experience as a teacher leader with my senator and I believe that she understood my work and passion. Most importantly, I told her about my kids: 100 students and 2 biological. We discussed assessment, CTE and Running Start, and the real trauma faced by students every day. And when the meeting was over, I didn’t feel dismissed. Instead I felt like I’d built a bridge.
Being a teacher and a coach, I build infrastructure all day long. I scaffold learning for my students. I help teachers seek out new ideas and create new platforms so they can dive into deeper learning. Yet, it didn’t occur to me until recently to build a bridge. Perhaps that’s what my work is now. I’m an engineer–creating bridges between my classroom and my state policymakers.