My experience with the Ontario Ministry of Education's Teacher Learning and Leadership Program (TLLP) has been second to none! You really can't get this type of personal professional development anywhere else! And if you can... tell me where, because I want in!
Not familiar with the acronym TLLP? Now really sure what that means? I find it really amazing that their are a lot of people in the education field with no idea about this awesome opportunity.
One one hand I feel like I shouldn't dare to tell a soul about this opportunity (SHHHHHHHH!!!! DON'T TELL ANYONE!!) ...... but on the other hand, I feel like a girl who should be standing on a mountain top shouting out the good news!
A TLLP is a project-based activity for selected experienced teachers whose choice of career is the classroom. It is intended to create opportunities for experienced teachers to enhance their professionalism and skills, extend their learning and share their expertise with others for the broader benefit of Ontario’s students. Teachers can apply, as individuals or as a group, to undertake a project. The program has three goals:
- Support Teacher Professional Learning;
- Foster Teacher Leadership; and
- Facilitate the sharing of exemplary practices with others for the broader benefit of Ontario's students.
TLLP#2As the title of this page notes, I'm involved in my second TLLP project with the Ministry of Education. (Although, if you'd like to know more about my first TLLP project, "Apps in the Class: Teaching and Learning with iPads" click the hyperlink.) It is both a real honour and a whole lot of scary! For starters, the honour is that first and foremost my administration believes in me. Your principal needs to be on board with the project and, for lack of a better way to put it, be on your side. When he or she signs the dotted line, they are allowing you the opportunity to try something new.
They are saying that they 'have faith' in your abilities, your plan, and even your success and failure. (Because let's face it, everything in the education world doesn't always work the first, second, third, or nineteenth time we do something!)
Next, the honour and scariness continues as you move your proposal to the board level. My heart literally beats in my head waiting to hear back from the board about whether they see the merit in my project. Have I written the proposal well enough that they can see my vision, my path, and are they ready to get into the car with me and come along for the ride? Sometimes I wish there was another part of the application, like the part where they could see into my heart about why I want to do this project so badly.
I feel like I've won the lottery when you get the message a whole month or so later after submission that, by George, they do see my vision! They too think this learning goal has the ability to be successful. Yes, it does help to meet my school and boards goals, and yes, it does align with the position the board is steering in.
The final bit of emotion comes when February hits. For many people in Ontario, February is a month filled with positive emotions: the winter is rounding it's way out, chocolate, candy, and the theme of love is splattered everywhere. What's not to love about February?
You see, February is 'THE MONTH' when TLLP applicants (that's me!) find out whether they are in or out for the following school year. I kind of place it in the same category as waiting to hear if your "accepted to university" kind of feeling. Hoping and knowing that their are so many awesome educators and people in education that are applying for this opportunity across the province of Ontario. In the last few years, the number of TLLP projects has grown. Through the use of social media, voices from past TLLP participants, and key educational players, like Ann Lieberman and Andy Hargreaves, I'm so happy it has.
I was blessed this year. Blessed with the successful opportunity of having "a-go at it!" Working my way through a project that is not going to only benefit me, my students, but also, (here's hoping) my fellow educators who are in a similar position.
You see, for me, it's not just about getting to work with cool tools and new fangled gadgets (although, that is a fantastic PLUS).
For me it's not about attending amazing PD conferences (ECOO, OPHEA, CODE), workshops (DancePl3y, MindsOnMedia) and meeting a whole slew of awesome people in education along the way.