Gloria Noyes and Deborah Tonguis: How Walden Makes Us More Effective Educators

Gloria Noyes: An effective leader, really, is someone who is knowledgeable of the current trends and issues that are going on in education, but that they’re also, they see beyond the academic piece because all learners are multifaceted just like administrators are and everybody is. And you really need to be aware of every facet of your learner, and this experience through Walden has enabled me to go in and do the research I need so that I can be that effective leader, so I can know about what constitutes an effective leader through the research that I do.

Deborah Tonguis: Yeah, I’m very aware now of even just educators within my building, not just the new teachers that come in. I just look at them in a different way. We’re practitioners, but at the same time, I think a lot of them think that their scholar days are over, that they’ve learned enough. And that really bugs us because I know she’s in a leadership position at her school, I am in my school, and as a department head, I feel a responsibility, almost, to get a little closer to those teachers who are kind of turned into paycheck-takers. Drives us crazy. Because we know that they still have so much experience and knowledge, but becoming … being a lifelong learner is job No. 1 of a teacher. Because as you continue to learn, you can continue to grow, and students see, they feel that growth in you. My students treat me completely differently since I have started the Ed.D. program at Walden. They really feel a sense of, that they’re growing with you. And they’re so proud of me. I’ll come in and I’ll say, “Oh, I just turned in this big paper,” and they’ll want to know about it, and I try and translate it into something they can understand. And I know even your little sixth graders or fifth graders…

Gloria Noyes: My fifth graders love it. They love to see me do the homework. They love to see me get a good grade, which I just checked, and I did really well on my last paper. I’m so excited … it’s fun. It’s fun. My passion comes from my students. Watching them every day just inspires me to be better. And so, one of the things I can do for them is to be a lifelong learner and to get a, you know, obtain a degree that will benefit them as learners. And not just them, too, my colleagues, because they can see me as a role model.

Deborah Tonguis: I think the same thing. I mean, what makes me so passionate about … I mean, I have a story about why I became a teacher. Gloria has an amazing story. We all have those stories, but at the end of the day, it’s looking into the face of these kids and wanting the best for them. We know that, sometimes the teacher is the most important element in a successful education experience for a student. And if you have a good teacher experience, and you know from your own lives, you know, “Oh I had a terrible math teacher, so I’m not good in math.” Sometimes one teacher can really turn things around in a negative way and in a positive way. So as we start to work with teachers, because in Teacher Leadership we’re there to develop and create opportunities for teachers to become better teachers and to empower them. We know it’s going to translate into a better life for our students. So, we’ve done a lot of work, you know, in the grind, in that classroom, and so it’s kind of nice to be able to stand back and say, “Wow. Let’s see if we can start to operate in a different level.” And that’s what this Ed.D. is going to do for us. It’s going to give us a little bigger stage. It’s going to allow us to, instead of micro-manage, kind of macro-manage what’s going on in our own field. And teachers don’t usually have an opportunity, in our profession, to become involved in change. It’s usually up higher. So it’s exciting.

Gloria Noyes: Taking it by storm.

Deborah Tonguis: Yeah, we are.