Getting Started…First Steps Towards Teacher Leadership

Teach to Lead

I attended a Teacher Leadership Summit this past weekend and it inspired me to continue my journey to become a teacher leader. While there, I met several teacher leaders who reoriented my professional compass. Witnessing other teacher-leaders accomplishing their goals inspired me to do the same.

While at the conference, one of the Keynote speakers was Annice Brave, a  phenomenal and inspirational lecturer. When she spoke, she told the audience that she had prepared a speech, but after she met the teacher leadership group she changed it. She held a hotel notepad into the air and shouted  “This is my new speech!” She then read the words, “Slow Down…Breathe…Be in the Moment….Tell your story”. These words echoed inside me.  They described what I felt and where I wanted to go on my journey as a teacher leader.

“Slow Down”

I have a thousands things going on every minute it seems. Between my personal life and my teacher life, I am never sure how I get anything completed. When a colleague suggested ways that I could become a leader in my school, my first concern was time. Would I have time to provide leadership for students to benefit?  Being a teacher leader is as important to me as being a teacher in the classroom. Both roles directly or indirectly support my students. But I wasn’t sure I could handle all of these roles. I have learned that the key has been slowing down. Taking my time and planning my day, planning my tasks and being intentional in my actions, so that my time and attention are given to those that need it. The education world is fast paced and you have to be intentional about slowing down. I find the best way to do that is a management system,such as using a planner or a calendar; either online or in paper. You have to choose what will work for you.


I’m sure you’ve heard this before. When Mrs. Brave said this it made me think of all the times that I allow myself to get overwhelmed. Things  spiral out of control. When I stare into the faces of all the things that need to be done and have not been done yet, I find myself saying…breathe, just breathe. When I get an email of one more thing to do, I just need to breathe. When my kids get sick and I have things to get done. Breathe. When things are not going to plan. Remember to breathe. It is in the breath that I am able to regain focus,devise new plans, and move. I realize that when I am not breathing, I am not moving and I need that flexibility to be successful. As you walk your journey of being a teacher leader be sure to take a moment to breathe and allow yourself to be flexible and change the plan as the plans are changing.

“Be in the moment”

As a teacher I find myself struggling with this so much. Every time I start working with a student I am thinking of the places where I need to get them to or I am thinking of the things that still need to be covered. Sometimes, I am scanning the room and seeing who else is trying to gain my attention, whether directly or indirectly. I find myself only halfway checked in with my tasks, while my brain is off planning what I will be doing four hours from now. This helped remind me that being in the moment is why I planned in the first place. I make a point to tell my students that they have my attention telling other students that I acknowledge but this moment belongs to the child I am with. When I am in meetings or discussing things with other teachers, I try to fight my desire to be pulled into my phone or allow the allure of the internet to distract me. Making sure that I am telling my team and other teachers I am working with that their time is important to me and I will honor that by being present. I will say that at times this is easier said than done. It takes a conscious effort to first recognize when you are not engaged and then to redirect yourself. Once, you start actively  being present for your students and your leadership team, the reward will be clear.  You won’t feel like you are missing details and you can identify what needs must be met.

‘Tell your story’

This is the best part of it all. Tell your story implies that you have information that is needed to be heard and that you should feel confident to tell it. I am on a this path to tap into becoming a better teacher leader. It involves stepping out of my comfort zone and placing myself to the scrutiny of my peers. The risk is great for me, as I am weighing my options and my shelter is crying out for me to return to it. But, I have convinced myself that my story. My journey. The things that I have learned may benefit another teacher. It may encourage a teacher to not quit. It may inspire a teacher to try something different to help students. It may draw a teacher to the edge of this cliff of risks and jump alongside me; embracing a world of change and committing to a life of learning to make a difference for our education system. I am not finished with my story and I am writing it I will also be sharing it. So, maybe, just maybe someone can learn from my success and even more so my failures to better their story.
Thank you, Mrs. Annice Brave. Your words have pushed me into a highly uncomfortable world, but I embracing my new role. Thank you for telling your story and inspiring me to step out and commit myself to Teach to Lead.


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Allow Us to Introduce Ourselves

Welcome to At Holm with SullyScience!circlebutton

We are so excited you have joined us in our mission to improve inclusive Science teaching. To kick off our blog, we would like to share with you a little background about who we are, why we do what we do, and what to expect from this blog.

Who We Are

Fate brought us together this year as we both moved to NKy from other teaching roles. Mrs. Sullivan came from Lexington, Kentucky and Mrs. Holman came from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Both of us came from STEM schools that served diverse populations of students. As we began to get to know one another, we found that our teaching styles and philosophies of teaching were very similar and we were excited to design more student centered and Problem Based Units. We both believe that everyone can learn and recognize that it may take different strategies to achieve learning. We also identify with the idea that learning can look different than the traditional picture of public schooling. We believe that each day is a new day and a clean slate. We must forgive and forget any injuries for the sake of learning and relationships. We apply this philosophy both to our students, but also to our own collaborative relationship.

Why We Do What We Do

It is because of our beliefs that we both came to careers as educators.

Mrs. Sullivan was on a tenure track path to Scientific research before witnessing the inadequacies of the education system for first generation college students and the need for applicable science instruction. After finishing her Bachelors’ in Agricultural Biotechnology and Biology at the University of Kentucky, she enrolled in UK’s College of Education Master’s with Initial Certification Program. While in the program, Mrs. Sullivan continued to be inspired by serving students who had previously been written off and striving to engage students in Science learning through hands-on and non-traditional approaches.

Mrs. Holman was a senior in high school when she was inspired by two teachers who did more than just taught her about their subjects. They saw her as a person and taught her to believe in herself even through hardships. Mrs. Holman wanted to be that person for others – to help them realize their potential both academically and personally. In order to accomplish this, she attended Winston-Salem State University where she began her studies to become a middle grade RegEd instructor. Only a month into her program, a lecture on special education pulled her toward outside the box instruction. She identified with the message of special education and the idea of not settling for traditional strategies. Mrs. Holman inherited her comfort with technology from her parents, both Computer Science Engineers. This comfort has since transformed into a passion for connecting students and teachers to technologies to improve learning.

What to Expect

Our goal for this blog is to provide readers with resources to implement innovative collaborative teaching both in and out of science content. We will be highlighting some of our favorite lessons in our Lesson Spotlight category and sharing our strategies for collaborative teaching in our Co-Teaching category. We will share some candid observations of journey to implement Problem Based Scenarios and other innovative strategies while teaching EOC assessed Biology and Chemistry. We intend to provide both the RegEd and Special Ed perspective and co-author on all posts.

Stay Tuned!

We hope you will join us as we continue on our collaborative mission to improve inclusive Science teaching!

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