Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Washington Week: Hart Senate Building, SMART Training, and Department of Education

I'm going to try to combine one and-a-half days of D.C. into one post. The thing is, life keeps happening, and if I don't get D.C. week written about now, I don't know how I will ever catch up!

On Tuesday, we had a training at SMART Technologies in Arlington to learn more about the SMART software package we have received for our classrooms. I arranged that morning to meet with Senator Manchin's education adviser and Senator Rockefeller's health policy and education leads to discuss issues that I feel are important to teachers and students in West Virginia. I emailed their offices and arranged meetings, since I would be in the vicinity that week and Congress would be back in session. Too forward? Maybe - but I'll never be this important again, so I might as well speak out on the things that I feel make a difference.
Inside the Hart Senate Building

Another view

With Senator Manchin


Quilts in Senator Rockefeller's office

That afternoon I attended the second half of the SMART training. My mind is full between the things I have to look forward to when I am back in the classroom on a regular basis in the fall and all of the possibilities that exist to promote the well-being of teachers and purpose of education. There are so many exciting tools out there to change how we reach students - and right now I feel like I'm gasping to keep up with all of the things I have to do between now and the end of the school year. This is an amazing experience, but it is also like living two different lives at the same time. Right now as I type this with a stuffy nose and mentally writing my speech for tonight, I'm reminded of that.

That evening, we had a dinner at The Fairfax (the hotel we stayed at for the week) and lined up by height for the White House ceremony on Thursday. Just talking about that - after going to the Vice President's home - was exciting. Due to the torrential rain in the forecast, we were informed that more than likely the ceremony would not be held in the Rose Garden but inside the White House. At that point, having not seen either, we didn't know what that meant...but it ended up being great.

With Kentucky Teacher of the Year Holly Bloodworth
Photo credit Kathy Assini

Wednesday morning we headed to the U.S. Department of Education. I am not very good at sitting in meetings and paying attention. Truth. I like to make and create, but meetings and paperwork...I kind of dread. So I was not initially looking forward to going to this...because I thought it was going to be...like that. However, it was fun, engaging, and the teacher fellows that lead our day were wonderful to work with! We learned a lot about upcoming initiatives such as Teach2Lead and had some great discussions in our small groups about teacher leadership.

School bus collection inside the library

Photo credit Kathy Assini

Later that afternoon, we attended a panel discussion on the Common Core, then prepared for the gala. Yes, teacher prom. Only no corsages and better music. More on that...

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