Building Communities

Teacher's Corner and What It Means to Be a Teacher Advocate

6 Min Read
Advocacy2

Noelle Morris, HMH Senior Director of Community Engagement (front row, second from left), with Teacher Ambassadors Renae Kuhn, Toney Jackson, and Kayla Dyer, leads a high-energy, instructional best practices session at Model Schools Conference 2022.

Throughout my career, I have had many titles. I’ve been an editor, implementation manager, and director, but the two titles I will cherish forever (and the two that continue to ground me today) are teacher and Sunshine Committee Member.

You may not refer to your faculty committee as the Sunshine Committee, but I am sure you have a collective group of individuals who connect, celebrate, and commit to bringing joy to others. This monthly group meetup is one of my fondest memories of my first year of teaching, and I learned so much that I still carry with me.

With this idea of community in mind, we’ve set out to create an exceptional network of educators in Teacher’s Corner. In the summer of 2020, HMH launched Teacher’s Corner so that on-demand professional learning, and teacher support via Ed, is available anytime, anywhere. In 2022, we expanded to include access to Teacher Success Pathways. We’ve grown this network to over 20,000 teachers.

It’s a place for professional development, resources, and sharing that will continue to inspire the work that you do as a teacher. As we approach Teacher Appreciation Week, we want to invite you to join our community, learn more about our advocacy program, and celebrate and support fellow teachers.

Communities help us grow and learn and I am inspired to share four lessons from the Sunshine Committee that continue to influence the work I do today.

  1. Disrupt when you see the need. My first paycheck was not scheduled until September; however, school started in August. As a first-year teacher who survived 18 months as a long-term substitute with a side gig in shoe retail, you can safely say I was living on the minimum. I did not have an extra $10 for the yearly dues to join the Sunshine Committee. I may have been slightly embarrassed, but I was not afraid to ask if I could join and pay the dues in two installments. Because I disrupted the usual collection process, we wondered how many potential members we missed because they were too proud to ask if they could pay in installments.
  2. Learn and share as you go. In my first year, I had no clue what Sunshine teachers needed or what kinds of things they appreciated. I did not know what kind of fun my fellow educators would want to engage in. But when we needed an event planner, I jumped in and took on that role. My willingness to contribute while I was still learning ensured that we had many fun events that year. In case you are wondering, no, not every experience planned in year one was successful, but I learned something with each experience. Those lessons helped me to grow, and now event planning is one of my strengths.
  3. Be inclusive and seek differences. I learned that it is so beneficial to accept that you will fail . . . because you will. (See note about my experience as an event planner above.) During these failures, I needed others to lift me up, and I thrived after meeting two of my future teacher besties. These two friends could not be more different from me. They went to my rival school for one, were the introvert to my extrovert, and both always packed their lunches while I lived off the vending machine. I was able to lean on them for support, advice, and mentorship. Their unique perspectives challenged me to think differently. It is people that help us grow.
  4. Give yourself and others grace. Everyone goes through firsts. Lesson plans were one of those firsts for me, and it was a challenge for me to keep up with them on a weekly basis. I had to learn to be open about being overwhelmed with keeping up with the requirements and to be brave enough to ask why or I wonder if we tried this . . . ? While I quickly learned to combine my natural curiosity with this new sense of bravery for the collective good, I also had to accept that lesson plans were a requirement of my new job, and therefore, I had to learn to reach out to experts for advice that I could transfer into my own practice so I could get off the weekly naughty list.

These learning moments offer a small window into my first year of teaching and lead to where we are today with the HMH Advocacy Program. These are the lessons I share with teachers, and teachers in the program have the chance to share the lessons they've learned over the years.

As we began to engage with teachers interacting on Teacher’s Corner, we realized that the next step was to widen the Corner and get even closer to where teachers are. In the fall of that same year, we established the Facebook Group, Teacher’s Corner from HMH. Today, this community embodies what we initially envisioned, a space for teachers to connect directly with program and instructional experts, to ask questions, and to offer answers, advice, and artifacts.

Now, we are looking to build the community even further. The last step in that initial vision and plan was to establish a program of Teacher Ambassadors and Contributors. Our first three contributors were Abbey Behnke, Teresa Meredith, and Renae Kuhn. Their program advice, feedback, and willingness to be the first at facilitating live events was just as rewarding to our team as it was to their portfolio of achievements.

Now in 2023, we have over 20 teachers actively involved in our HMH Advocacy Program and we are always ready to meet others. I encourage you to take a look and find a teacher who matches your style. Or, potentially find someone who is different enough to challenge and support you. Then, connect and get involved in the community. We have many ways to engage.

Join our community and see the support, readiness, inclusivity, and learning offered across our HMH programs and platform.

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Join HMH's Teacher's Corner, a community of educators dedicated to on-demand professional learning and teacher support.

Interested in joining the HMH Advocacy Program?

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