Student ownership of learning was a big facet of my teaching philosophy from the beginning, along with integrity and failure leads to success. As a second year teacher, I had big plans for building a strong classroom community with only a rough curriculum plan to guide me. Before engaging with RPIA, I served the role of the disciplinarian co-teacher when I began teaching with the new math teacher after one month into the school year. With a new partner, I saw my place in the classroom to orient my students to respect my co-teacher. I held firm in my support but on the inside I was miserable. I felt myself fighting two battles, both equally important at their cores, but at odds with each other on the surface.
Two things stick with me that were really powerful in my experience. The first was engaging with Love and Logic. Finding a style that aligned so well with my philosophy and the prominent culture of feedback in my school, this text was powerful to help me immediately start implementing in my conversations with students. It built on this goal of ownership to own their areas of growth, helping them see ultimately what they could control to feel empowered within the classroom and within their social-emotional development. The second was the flexibility of the program and the willingness of the whole team to make this experience meaningful for all of us. Due to differences in scheduling and model at my school as compared to my peers, I opted to do a case study; I tracked my work with 4 students across the year and gathered student data from multiple students in the school. I began connecting the voices in my school community to see the value in the RPIA work beyond
my classroom and measure the impact in students’ other classes and the changes students saw in my teaching.
Voice, ownership, and empowerment have framed my lens in classrooms ever since. After my time with RPIA, I became a school leader, as an Assistant Principal and acted as Interim Principal. I began to see other classrooms with fresh eyes, supporting teachers to develop a more student-centered focus and leveraging students as equal partners in the learning process. Currently, I serve as the Midwest Instructional Excellence Coach
for FullBloom, where I coach multiple levels of leaders on high-quality instructional and leadership practices. My biggest focus at the moment is how to help teachers and leaders empower the voice of the people they support, and the ownership they have in the process to create this space. The application of all three pillars of RPIA in tandem is a primary catalyst for the kind of leader I am today. I am so honored to have been a part of this process and share the value of this work with others. Being an RPIA alum has ultimately taught me that the potential for growth starts with creating a platform for success for the people you support.