I spent most of my spare time in the spring of 2014 looking for a way out. I had been teaching 8th grade for 8 years, and was feeling restless. I Googled all variations of “what to do with a master’s in education outside the classroom” I could think of. My husband and I went so far as to discuss a move to northern California for a PhD program. Finally, one of my searches brought me to a leadership opportunity that changed my life and career. It allowed me to stay in the classroom and also explore the wider world of educational policy and leadership, of which I was not aware. Fast-forward 3 years and the list of “education stuff outside the classroom” I do is extensive.

It all started with the Hope Street Group National Teacher Fellowship. I applied on a whim, I only came across the opportunity 2 weeks before the application was due. I was stunned when I received word I that I was a finalist and even more stunned when I was accepted. With this fellowship, I learned about education policy, how to be a change agent from the classroom, how to work with policymakers big and small and how to communicate my message. I was connected to the most incredible, accomplished group of educators in the country, who to this day remain my bedrock of support. It was the opening of this door that allowed the floodgates of opportunities to be unleashed. From Teach Plus, to Teachers for Global Classrooms to NCTE Policy Fellow to my advisory roles for the Gates Foundation, Better Together CA, and on the board of directors for EdReports, I now see my role as both a teacher and policy leader.

I wanted to share some opportunities for California educators that are interested in learning about or expanding their leadership lives. I promise, you won’t regret it. Below are just a few suggestions. Want more? Check out my blog from my time in DC as a NCTE Policy Fellow.  

Teach Plus: The California Teaching Policy Fellowship
As a fellow, I worked closely with colleagues across the state to build legislation around teacher lay off policies. They provided messaging training, as well as opportunities to visit Sacramento and meet with policymakers. Through this fellowship, I learned about California education policy and contributed to legislation that is currently being evaluated.


Teacher for Global Classrooms
This program, through the US State Department, was a 10-week graduate level online course on global education- everything from what is global education to writing lessons. After the course, I traveled to Washington, DC for a symposium on global education, and the experience culminates with travel abroad to deepen understanding of cultural concepts. If this interests you, also check on the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Programs which offers 3 to 6 month programs abroad of study inquiry.


EdReports Educator Reviewer
A great way to grow as a professional and develop leadership skills is as an educator reviewer for EdReports. EdReports offers free reviews of K-12 instructional materials. They pay and train their reviewers to evaluate English, Math and (coming soon) Science materials so districts and teachers can make the best selections for their students.


Better Together CA Network
The organizers behind the annual Better Together: California Teachers Summit create year-round opportunities for teachers to connect with and learn from one another. Follow @CATeacherSummit on Twitter and use #BetterTogetherCA to join in on monthly twitter chats, hosted by California teacher leaders on topics suggested by their peers. Teachers in the network are also able to write blog posts (like this one) and participate in the annual Summit event as EdTalk speakers and Edcamp session facilitators. Visit www.cateacherssummit.com to learn more!


National Board Certification
Becoming a board certified teacher is a great way to improve your practice and take your teaching game to a new level. I loved the experience and feel honored when I say I am an NBCT.


Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship
Are you a K-12 educator in the STEM fields? Want to spend 11 months in DC working in a federal agency or congressional office? Then this is the right opportunity for you!


US Department of Education School Ambassador Fellowship
This opportunity brings educators from across the country to the US DOE to become involved in the development and implementation of national education policy. It is open to teachers, principals and other school staff members.


Lauren Stuart

Lauren is a National Board Certified English Language Arts teacher at El Rodeo School in the Beverly Hills Unified School District. As a Hope Street Group National Teacher Fellow, she has worked on the issue of teacher preparation. As a Teach Plus California fellow, she worked on legislation to lengthen the amount of time given for teachers to earn tenure. In addition, Lauren is a Teachers for Global Classrooms Fellow, studying global education and will be spending time abroad Spring 2018 in a cultural exchange. She is also a member of the Gates Foundation Teacher Advisory Council and the Better Together Teacher Advisory Board. She began teaching in 2006 with the Los Angeles Unified School District. Lauren has a BA in Communication Studies from the University of Michigan and a Master’s in Education from Pepperdine University.