Welcome to another profile in SimpleK12's Teachers Teaching Teachers — Views from the Field series, where we interview educators about what they're doing to train other teachers and administrators.
Today we want to introduce you to Keisha Rivers of the KARS Group.
How and where have you been involved in PD (including your specialties)?
I have a concentration in Teacher Leadership & Development and have worked with pre-service teachers, first-year teachers, and experienced teachers to assist with classroom management, assessment, instructional strategies, professional growth plans, collegial coaching, and building teacher collaboratives.
What roles have you played in K-12 education?
I have been a classroom teacher (Special ED Mild Moderate K-3; Gifted Ed 2nd-8; 1st grade, 3rd grade); Summer School Administrator; Department Chair; SACS Accreditation Committee Chair; and served on various committees regarding curriculum development, program development, teacher professional development, and parental involvement
What led you to pursue teacher PD?
I was interested in how to create learning communities for teachers as a way of paving the way for them to become scholar-practitioners.
What advice do you have for other teachers who would like to create and deliver teacher PD?
Become a student of the craft. Learn to observe the process of teaching while studying the outcomes of instructional practices. It is more important for you to know the right questions to ask than to know all of the answers.
What's the biggest mistake you've made and what did you learn?
The biggest mistake that I made was underestimating the importance of sound research and best practices in my development. I learned that while relying on my intuition and experience was important if I wanted to make a difference and change policies, I needed to back up what I was doing with sound theory and current research.
If you could go back and give your 20-year old self some advice, what would it be?
Take the risks and walk through the open doors, regardless of your age.
If your FUTURE self in 20 years could look back at where you are today, what advice might the Future You offer the Current You?
It's never too late to do that thing that keeps you up at night and scares you silly.
What are the biggest mistakes you see teachers making in the classroom?
Focusing on checking off the requirements instead of teaching the student in front of them.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of the various forms of PD delivery?
Most PD is centered around an “empty vessel” approach where you gather people together in a lecture format and pour the information into them, then expect them to go out and apply whatever you taught them. That doesn't work. You have to have various opportunities for teachers to learn, apply, question, test, and question some more. Hands-on workshops, discussion groups, ongoing mentoring, and peer collaboratives are the most effective since they provide opportunities for ongoing learning.
As Master of the Education Universe, what 1-2 things would you change about K-12 education and schools?
I would make K-12 education and schools more collaborative and active in nature. Creating opportunities for students and teachers to learn, explore, question, and create their own learning processes is key.
What would you change about university teacher education programs?
University teacher education programs must provide more opportunities for pre-service teachers to spend time in schools. They need to be able to talk to teachers and develop more of a theory into practice model instead of a purely academic theoretical model.
Do you have a favorite quote or expression you live by?
You don't need to know the right answers; you just have to know the right questions.
What book(s) — about education or not — do you most often give out?
Anything by John Maxwell.
If you had to do it all over again, what would you do, be, or try?
I would complete my doctorate and focus more on leadership development so that I could work with teachers as leaders.
What are the 2-3 most important work-related purchases you've made in the last year?
A new laptop and several new books on leadership and strategic thinking.
What's your next goal?
To establish my KARS Academy–an online training resource.
Anything else you'd like to share with other teachers who want to follow in your footsteps?
Just remember that you are never “just” a teacher. You are an educator and as such you hold the key to unlocking the potential of everyone you touch.
This teacher profile is part of SimpleK12's Teachers Teaching Teachers — Views from the Field series, where we interview educators about what they're doing to train other teachers and administrators.
If you have any questions for Keisha or anything else related to this topic (and there will be more Teachers Teaching Teachers profiles and stories coming soon), please leave them below in the Comments.