02 Sep 2011

What is The Teaching Pulse?

First of all, welcome.  This conversational space will depend on teachers and public education advocates like you visiting, adding your thoughtful voice and opinion about its topics, and being open-minded to ideas or passions that might be new or different than your own.

As I wrote in the first piece of writing that appears on this website, this column is about increasing the capacity in the Boston Public Schools and the Boston Teachers Union for teacher collaboration and professional growth through a focus on teacher leadership, education policy and classroom practice.  Through the two forums of 1) a monthly column in the Boston Union Teacher paper and 2) this website, the goal will be to generate an ongoing dialogue–a teaching pulse–of the professional opinions, concerns and ideas of teachers in the Boston Public Schools.

Why start up a new forum right now?  Aren’t there other avenues for teachers to get together and talk about professional issues and opportunities that they have?

There certainly are various groups of individuals and organizations in the Boston area that focus on involving the voice of teachers.  Absolutely participate in them.  I have repeatedly heard, however, in multiple schools and from teachers representing the whole range of classroom experience, that they are not enough.  I have heard too many times that teachers continue to feel isolated in their classrooms or schools, or that the union is not representative of their own opinions and interests, or that they feel increasingly ‘under attack’ despite continuing to work harder and harder at their jobs.

It is my hope that this forum keeps taking the ‘pulse’ of the life of teachers in the Boston Public Schools.  My hope is that it becomes an avenue to not only connect with other educators across the city, but to also learn, be challenged and be actively involved in aiding and elevating our profession and our professional organizations for the benefit of our work and for our students.  My hope is that it helps to tap the latent voices of the many dedicated and at times, invisible, educators throughout the city and becomes another avenue to be more effective at our work–both individually and collectively.

Who is the primary audience of The Teaching Pulse?

The primary audience of this forum is the teachers and staff represented by the Boston Teachers Union, primarily those who are looking to get involved in shaping the teachers union and the Boston school district.  The secondary audience includes members of the Boston school department, the school committee and other local education policy makers.  The tertiary audience includes broader state or national education reform groups, or individuals who have a particular interest in teacher voice, leadership and activism.

Who am I?

My name is James Liou and I currently work as a teacher-on-assignment, or Peer Assistant, in the Peer Assistance Program.  I am beginning my thirteenth year as an educator and I’ve taught or worked as a lead teacher in the Boston Public Schools for the past nine years.  If you’re interested, you can read more about me and my teaching background here.  Pleased to meet you!

As an editorial point of information, I am not getting paid for this column nor do its opinions or stances necessarily reflect the opinions of the Boston Teachers Union or the Boston Public Schools.  I am my own editor in this endeavor, any errors are my own and I am not required to get this vetted or approved by either the BTU or BPS.  That being said, however, my intentions are good ones.  I really believe in the work of reaching out to my fellow educators in the Boston Public Schools.

What will success look like?

Honestly, I don’t entirely know.  I would love to have teachers from across the city visit the site, initiate and sustain comments and conversations, and for all of us to learn from each other.  I would love for more and more teachers in our district to feel that we have a forum of our own to connect, to strategize, to constructively critique and to generate a sense of professional community.  I would love for those who are not teachers in the district to visit the site and leave with the impression that yes, teachers in the Boston Public Schools are hungry for an opportunity to participate and to shape the environment and policies of our daily work.

Success will depend on you and me.  Small steps, though, right?  I remain thoroughly encouraged.

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