“What do you believe is important to our kids?”
That’s the question 2011 Twin Cities corps member Mal Mrozek is asking her fellow Teach For America alumni at a house meeting she and two other friends organized to identify issues they can tackle to have the greatest possble impact for Minneapolis students.
After a rocky first year teaching part time at two schools, Mal has found a rhythm in her 3rd year teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) students and is now getting involved in the second part of the movement as a teacher-organizer.
“The things that I am interested in working with and around definitely have a lot to do with English as a Second Language (ESL) students,” Mal says. “It’s an issue tied to what I know the needs of my students are.”
Mal experienced the challenges that come with immigrating to the United States when she and her parents emigrated from Poland. Since then, she has looked for opportunities to work with and on behalf of students who may face similar experiences.
But are there enough hours in the day to really make an impact? Mal says absolutely.
In the face the plenitude of pushes and pulls of full-time teaching, Mal says, “Start small. It doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment. Go to a meeting once to learn about an issue, and if you don’t like it then don’t go back. But if you do, go to another meeting. Keep on learning about the issue.”
In search of opportunities to make an impact in her community, Mal reached out to Victoria Ford, Leadership for Educational Equity’s (LEE) Regional Director of the Twin Cities. Victoria pointed Mal to an opportunity to attend the National Organizing Workshop (NOW), a LEE-sponsored workshop that teaches LEE members how organizing can be used to transform their communities for the better and help build the movement for educational equity
At the NOW, Mal gained the tools she needed to get started as a community organizer. She’s also attended small workshops with a group called “Educators for Equity: in her community. By taking these simple steps, Mal began her work organizing for students in the Twin Cities and encourages other educators to do the same.
“If you’re a teacher and there is an issue that you are passionate about then you should get involved because educators bring a really unique perspective of knowing how policies impact our teachers and kids,” Mal says.
As Mal’s experience shows, the journey to becoming a teacher-organizer starts with taking a few simple steps and finding others to take those steps with you.
“You need to be the change if it’s something you are passionate about.” And then, she says, “Try to find others who share your passion and figure out how you can make an impact.”
“It’s definitely a group effort,” Mal remarks, recognizing the value of collaboration and collective action.
”When you work as a team and work well, that’s when results are even better.”
Want to learn more about how we can help you become a community organizer? Check out our National Organizing Workshop and see what it can do for you.