Teach Better Ambassadors: Like Radio Shack, But Still Relevant

Alex T. ValencicBlog, Connect Better, Manage Better, Reflect Better

TL;DR:

  • Alex Valencic shares his journey from substitute teacher to Professional Learning Coordinator.
  • The Teach Better Ambassador program is here to help everyone be better.
  • The Ambassadors bring a vast array of experiences to support the Teach Better community.

New Role

After three years as a substitute teacher and seven years as a fourth-grade teacher in East Central Illinois, I took the leap in 2018 to move across the state with my wife to take a Central Office position for my current school district in Northwestern Illinois.

I served as the Curriculum Coordinator for 21st Century Teaching and Learning. My primary duties were to oversee the implementation of project-based learning across the district with a group of 35 adopters. I also provided support for teachers implementing other innovative practices in the classroom.

I also oversaw the social studies programs across our EC-12 district. In this role, I lead a textbook review committee. Toward the end of the first year, a music teacher asked me a quick question. That “quick question” turned into a 30-minute discussion about elementary music curriculum resources and how the C&I team could better support them. On a whim, I checked in on the art teachers and the physical education teachers. I learned that they, too, had questions. Within a week, my job duties expanded. I became the curriculum coordinator responsible for art, music, and PE.

During the second year in my district, I was asked to take over responsibility for the science curriculum so that my colleague who had been supporting that area could focus exclusively on ELA. I also took on the support for career and technical education (CTE) teachers, world languages, and, ultimately, any content area that was not ELA or mathematics.

I have a not-so-secret tool at my disposal: Teach Better Ambassadors! Click To Tweet

From March 2020 to June 2022, four things happened in rapid succession.

  1. COVID happened and the world was turned upside-down.
  2. My immediate supervisor left to take a superintendency in another district.
  3. My new supervisor came in from a different district with the massive task of overseeing curriculum and instruction in a large unit district in the early stages of responding to a once-in-a-century global pandemic while also restructuring our department.
  4. I was selected to be one of the founding Teach Better Ambassadors.

Jump ahead to today: I am now the Professional Learning Coordinator in my district. I still provide support for all of the content areas outside of ELA and mathematics. I am still consulted on 21st-century teaching and learning practices. Also, I oversee the district’s New Teacher Academy and mentoring program. I serve as the co-administrator for our elementary summer learning program. Dozens of emails flood my inbox each day from teachers and leaders across the district with urgent questions needing immediate answers. I receive dozens of other emails from vendors wanting me to consider their products.

How do I balance it all…how do I find answers to all of the many questions put to me each day? How do I manage to support so many different curriculum programs? Oversee the implementation of dozens of programs? Ensure that resources are being used correctly?

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I have a not-so-secret tool at my disposal: Teach Better Ambassadors

When I first applied to be a Teach Better Ambassador, I just wanted to be more involved with the Teach Better Team. I’d come to love and live the Teach Better mindset. I was determined to share this as wide and far as I could. I believed being an Ambassador would give me the tools and supports to help others become better. But I never imagined that these individuals would become an integral part of my life, helping me to become better too.

I could not possibly do my job as well as I do without the support of the Teach Better Ambassador network. Not a day goes by that I don’t reach out to this amazing family of passionate educators to ask for help and to offer help.

There are 50 of us. We come from different states, provinces, territories, and countries. We have unique backgrounds ranging from early childhood education to adult learning and everything in between. You’ve got questions. We’ve got answers. We’re kind of like Radio Shack, but still relevant. (If you don’t get the reference, check out this TV commercial from 1994.)

Learn More!

Check out more about the Teach Better Ambassador Program here: https://www.teachbetter.com/ambassador-closed/


About Alex T. Valencic

Alex Valencic is an educator, former small business owner, Boy Scout, volunteer drug prevention specialist, unrepentant bibliophile, and a geek of all things. He worked as a substitute teacher for three years before achieving his lifelong dream of teaching fourth grade, which he did for seven years in Urbana, Illinois, before accepting his current position as the Curriculum Coordinator for 21st Century Teaching and Learning in Freeport, Illinois, where he not only supports innovative educational practices in the classroom but also oversees social studies, science, and nearly all of the elective courses in the district.