It’s college essay season in full bloom, so here is a rough draft of a teacher model I am sharing with my students as they prepare their University of California Personal Insight Questions (350 w0rd limit):
Insight Question: What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?
I believe in contributing to my community. My contributions may appear small to others, but I strive for success rather than recognition. As a leader in my local teacher association, I worked with a team to develop the CAAPS program, a committee of teachers at some or our school sites meeting with administrators regularly to address work environment issues. The acronym stands for Communication, Advocacy, Action, Problem Solving. And that is the mission of the teams–to communicate and advocate for teacher needs, and take action with administrators to solve problems on our school sites.
My school site has the most developed CAAPS team. We have been meeting with our administrators for over a decade–we are on our fourth principal since we started the program, and every new principal has continued the program proving its value to our school community. We’ve certainly had disagreements along the way, such as when our meetings with our current principal suspended two years ago when he unwittingly undermined the trust we had developed as a team. We didn’t let that set us back. We pushed our distrust aside to move forward. Now we have a full team of six teachers who meet monthly with him and send reports to the whole staff. Some recent issues we have addressed include teachers substitute teaching during their conference periods with increasing frequency and creating standardized forms for students who will be absent from school as part of an activity. We initiate and follow through with change to better our community.
The CAAPS team is a reflection of my core philosophies–if I’m not part of the solution, then I’m part of the problem and I must leave every community I have been a part of in better condition than when I entered it. My goal is for this team to function long after I’m gone, for it to be a legacy to do good for my school community, my students’ learning environment, and my colleagues’ work environment.