Recently Minneapolis Schools Voices decided to reach out strategically to all Minneapolis Public Schools educators en masse, because we know that their voices are crucial and we wanted to learn from them what they needed from an organization like ours. 

We began by developing a spreadsheet of every MPS teacher and education support professional, most of which are publicly accessible on each school’s website. Over several weeks we collected over 3500 email addresses in that process. 

Then we drafted a letter introducing ourselves and making clear we were an independent news organization looking to invite each individual teacher into the Minneapolis Schools Voices community. We then began to email that letter to the list of educators. Now, there have been a few technical issues along the way, but we’ve already emailed nearly 3000 of the 3500-or-so teachers and we should be done by the time this update publishes. 

We did this because we believe that engagement requires intentionality. We know that we were not going to bring teachers to our community without specifically and intentionally and strategically reaching out to each teacher, and without creating space to listen and learn from them about what they need. 

In the past week, we’ve had 15 individual meetings with MPS teachers. Some in-person; some over Zoom;  some in-person over coffee, breakfast, lunch and we have learned so much. Some of the teachers we’ve spoken to are just looking for an outlet to share their voice and their issues. Some of the teachers we’re speaking to are doing so much in their classrooms and schools, though they are not in a position or feeling able to promote those efforts., but they are deep in the work. And others have never been asked what their priorities are when it comes to community reporting on education issues and opportunities. 

In response we’re putting together a story form, via Google Drive, so that our entire community - and especially MPS teachers - can pitch their stories directly to us. We’re also developing a WhatsApp community for those who prefer to communicate via WhatsApp. And, as always, our inbox is open.