Five Ways to Raise Your Hand For Public Education

Concrete action creates measureable results. And that’s what NEA’s “Raise Your Hand” Campaign (RYH) is all about—moving beyond talk to delivering measurable results for students. Since summer, the campaign has inspired educators to take charge of their profession and take responsibility for developing the next generation of teachers.

But RYH is more than a campaign, and it’s much larger than NEA. RYH is a movement—one that is bringing people together and lifting up good ideas, smart policies and successful programs.

Best of all, educators who become a part of the campaign can suit the level of involvement that suits them best—from long term to a few hours a week.

How to Raise Your Hand

Become a Cooperating Teacher—An educator’s experience is an invaluable roadmap for college and university students entering the teaching profession. Cooperating teachers can help student teachers become classroom ready by helping them plan and apply curriculum and develop teaching methods. Cooperating teachers can assess future teachers’ growth and challenges and provide basic information, including school rules, policies, and classroom management.

Vickie Marht, a speech pathologist from Mclean County in Illinois admits being a cooperating teacher takes work, “but it’s important for experienced teachers to pass along their wisdom and experience to newer members of the profession. It was also a valuable experience for me, as I learned about different approaches [to teaching] and current research.”

Contact your local teacher preparation program to become a cooperating teacher.

Join Program Approval Boards and Education Committees—Program approval boards and education committees give teachers the opportunity to contribute beyond the classroom, and make a significant impact on the profession.

Get involved by serving on site teams that conduct visits to teacher preparation programs. Teams are enriched by expertise that P-12 practitioners bring from actual classroom experiences.

“It’s about having your voice heard,” says Callie Marksbary, a third-grade teacher in Lafayette, Ind. “I sit on a committee that’s making significant decisions regarding the profession, and right now I’m the only P-12 educator in that room.” Her participation, Marksbary explains, brings a real-world perspective from the classroom, which helps to inform the decision making and direction of the group.

To operate, all teacher-preparation programs must be state approved. Contact your affiliate to find out which state and local committees offer opportunities for practicing teachers to assist with the development of cooperating teacher guidelines and training, pre-service standards of practice, and clinical field experiences.

Become an edTPA Scorer

When it is time to determine if a new teacher is ready for the profession edTPA, a pre-service assessment process, can help. The assessment centers on the teaching and learning process of future educators and their ability to effectively teach subject matter to every student.

Scorers help to support “an evidence-based process that can make objective, comparable, and valid evaluations of teaching skills and readiness for the classroom,” according to the group’s website.  edTPA is used for teacher licensure and to support state and national program accreditation. Scorers are paid for training and for each assessment scored. To become a scorer,visit

Open Your Classroom for Observation

Give soon-to-be-teachers an opportunity to see theory in action and help them craft their expertise.

Classroom observations give education majors a front row seat to different teaching and classroom management styles and different grade levels and disciplines. That’s why you should encourage colleagues to open their doors, too.

“We can sit in a college classroom and listen to theory, but there’s a disconnect from theory to handling 30 seven-year-old students,” says David Tjaden, who chairs NEA’s 66,000-member student program, and received a Master of Arts degree in social studies education from the University of Iowa. Tjaden says the experiences of teachers, union leaders and members give future educators the opportunity to get valuable information that they can apply later.

To open your classroom doors to future teachers, talk to your school’s administrators first. Then, contact the local NEA affiliate to connect with a local teacher preparation program.

Become a Guest Lecturer

Visit with a teacher preparation program or serve as a guest speaker for the “introduction to teaching” class and share real-world experiences.

Practitioners’ expertise is invaluable to teacher preparation programs. Experienced teachers provide insight into current realities, the changing dynamics of today’s classroom, and policies new educators must learn.

“It is critical that pre-service teachers have an opportunity to hear from those educators who are in classrooms,” says Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, who is a National Board Certified Teacher and president of the Utah Education Association.

“Current practicing teachers are credible messengers for the realities that face our educators in classrooms every single day. No one else can give a complete and accurate picture of public schools better than teachers. I think those entering our profession deserve our expertise and perspective,” Gallagher-Fishbaugh says.

To start a guest lecturer guild of educators interested in teacher preparation programs, contact your association.


NEA’s Great Public Schools (GPS) Network is a free tool that aids in NEA’s efforts to lead the professions.  Through the GPS Network online, members can address and collaborate around key educational issues.  The network is open to all educators.