Posted in In My Own Opinion, Utah Education Policy

Utah Teacher License Requirements

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There has been a lot of changes and discussion around the teacher licensing requirements in Utah. It has been a hot topic with many opinions coming from teachers, administrators, and policy makers. The state is opening up this highly debated issue for public feedback. If you have ideas about the teaching licensing requirements in Utah, now is your chance to have your voice heard. Please read the below letter from the USBE Educator Licensing Coordinator:

Utah Educators,

The Utah State Board of Education Licensing Task Force is currently working on redesigning the educator licensing structure in Utah.  The task force would like to thank all of the individuals that have previously provided feedback at stakeholder meetings.  In order to gather feedback from as many individuals as possible a survey has been created regarding the currently proposed revisions.

We would like to invite you to participate in this survey by going to this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JQYNJ8M .  A description of the current proposal is provided and there are 14 questions.  The survey will close at 10:00 am on Monday, May 15.  Please be aware that this survey focuses on general license structure.  Feedback regarding license areas and endorsements will be collected at a later date.

Thank you for your help in this matter.  Please feel free to share this link with others.  The Board would like to collect as much public feedback as possible.

This is a great opportunity to have teacher voice included in the requirements for our profession. Lets own it, and make an impact.

Cheers!

Tabitha

Posted in Utah Education Policy

Utah Teacher Turnover

The teacher shortage is a national crisis and hitting especially hard in Utah, where research is showing that over 50% of teachers are leaving the profession.I’m sure after a long day of nurturing young minds followed by a late night of grading papers and typing class newsletters, you would like nothing better than some light reading on teacher turnover.Here are links to several studies by the U of U, Utah Education Policy Center, on our state teacher retention:

Teacher Turnover in Utah Between 2013-14 and 2014-15

Beginning Teacher Turnover in Utah Between 2008-09 and 2014-15

Teacher Retention in Utah: Exploring 2011-12 SASS and 2012-13 TFS Survey Data

Our State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Sydnee Dickson, said the following,

“The Utah State Board of Education’s mission is to provide an opportunity for education excellence for each Utah student. Recruiting and retaining quality teachers in the classroom is a fundamental part of that mission that supports educational equity and quality learning.”

I know we have many education advocates working on The Hill this legislative session, but we also have well meaning policymakers, who propose rules without understanding the affect on teacher morale or the classroom implications. Please reach out to your local legislators so that teacher voices are included in every discussion about education.

You can find contact information for your legislators at www.le.utah.gov

Cheers!

Tabitha

Posted in Uncategorized, Utah Education Policy

Elevating the Teaching Profession

The General Manager of Chinese restaurant in the mall food court makes more money than I do. I have been teaching for over 9 years and consider myself an experienced and effective teacher, and was shocked when I saw a hiring sign posted at the mall, and the starting salary was more than my 6 years of college education and National Board Certification earned. How is it that I live in a society where teachers are so undervalued?

This isn’t my first experience with feeling my chosen profession was not appreciated. When I decided to go back to the school to get my teaching license, I had to apply for a student loan to pay the graduate school tuition. As a requirement to qualify for the student loan, I had to attend a fiscal responsibility seminar. The presenter made a comment along the lines of, “make sure your education is a financially sound investment. If you are going to a career like, say teaching, you may not get your money’s worth.” I hadn’t even started my teacher prep program yet, and I was already being told that it wasn’t a wise career path.

How do we change the view of a teacher’s worth if the profession isn’t a viable option as a job that can support a family? How can we recruit new teachers to the profession and retain teachers longer than the average 3-5 years expectancy, when the teaching profession is so commonly underpaid and underappreciated? Increasing pay would validate the monetary worth of teachers, thus making the education field more attractive. However; deeper paradigm shifts are needed in order to truly elevate the profession. At a recent Teach To Lead Summit I attended, Maddie Fennell stated, “Culture eats strategy (and policy) for breakfast!” Even though teachers and other stakeholders are diligently working to make policy changes to positively affect the teaching profession, it will take much more effort to elevate teachers in society. It is much easier to change policy than culture.  I believe the starting place for this paradigm shift is within the profession. Teachers need to start viewing themselves as education experts. Teachers can advance their own growth by participating in quality professional development outside what their district offers. Teachers should advocate to have their voice heard and bring their firsthand experience to the table. To be recognized as an professional, teachers should take it upon themselves to stay current on education policy both locally and nationally. There are many organizations dedicated to elevating the teaching professions. Hope Street Group, Teacher2Teacher, The Center on Great Teachers and Leaders, CTQ, and ASCD are just a few of the organizations committed to elevating teachers.  I would urge teachers to expand their professional learning networks and connect with organizations and teachers across the nation.

Changes can also be made within school buildings to start to shift the culture of the profession. Teachers are often recognized in ways that would not be appropriate in other business settings.   What if instead of decorating doors and providing a potluck dinner, teachers were given business cards for teacher appreciation week? I believe something as simple as business cards would empower teachers to start making connections in the community and elevate the level of professionalism.

Elevating the teaching profession will be a long process that may take generations before teachers are truly valued and compensated appropriately. Teachers can start changing the view of their profession by telling their students what a prestigious and rewarding career teaching is. Teachers are not only experts in academic content, but also in pedagogy, various aspects of child psychology and development, and behavior management. Teachers need to remind the community that school is not glorified babysitting, but a challenging and fulfilling career.

Cheers!

Tabitha

Posted in Uncategorized, Utah Education Policy

How to get Involved in Education Policy

Have you ever wanted to get involved in education policy, but don’t even know where to get started? I feel you. Before my fellowship with Hope Street Group, the world of politics was overwhelming, but know that I know a few basics and have made several networking connections, I know how to get my voice heard. If you are wanting to learn about ed policy, and dig deeper into ESSA (every student succeeds act) I would recommend taking this free online training from Teach Plus. Content includes:

  • Teachers as Policy Influencers  What are the pathways for teacher impact in policy and what does it take for teachers to become bilingual in practice and policy? Understand the obstacles to making change and the strategies to succeed.
  • Policy 101 What is policy, and how is it made and changed? Who makes it, and how can teachers play a role in shaping it? Explore why policy matters and what levers teachers have to influence policy.
  • Storytelling How can teachers develop the voice needed to influence policy? Learn the power of storytelling and public narrative as tools for effective advocacy.
  • Advocacy 101 How do teachers make things happen in the complex world of policy and politics? Understand the importance of goals, relationships, root cause analysis, and power mapping.
  • ESSA How will the Every Student Succeed Act impact education?  How can teachers advocate for a smart accountability system, teacher leadership opportunities, and the reduction of duplicative assessments through this new law?

Educators everywhere are elevating the profession by sharing their expertise with policy makers. Increase your professional knowledge, by taking the time to learn about the laws, policies, and state level rules that define your career!

Cheers!

Tabitha

Posted in In My Own Opinion, Uncategorized, Utah Education Policy

Another Hoop for Utah Teachers

Have any of you read the article “Lawmakers consider creating board exam for teachers in effort to keep standards high” posted on KSL over the weekend? While I like the idea of holding all teachers to a high standard, it is seeming less and less like traditional teacher prep programs are valued. Having all teachers be board certified does make me feel better about the recent   Academic Pathway to Teaching rule, but it doesn’t increase the value of completing a college degree in education. With so many alternative ways to become a licensed teacher, getting a degree in education seem like a very pigeon holed emphasis that limits career opportunities. The newest generation of potential teacher candidates may feel it is a better use of their time, money, and effort to get their degree in a broader category, since they can always decide later to become a teacher by completing a 6 week program or passing a couple of tests.

I can speak to the benefits of becoming a Board Certified Teacher. In 2014, I pass my National Board of Professional Teaching Standards, and became a National Board Certified Teacher. I am a better teacher because of this process and would encourage any teacher to pursue National Board Certification whether it becomes a Utah rule or not.

The teaching crisis is real. We are in a drastic shortage of teachers requiring creative solutions such as the APT rule, yet at the same time we are expecting all teachers  to be highly effective and have struggled to find a consistent way to measure to teacher effectiveness. Attempts to measure teachers have come in the form of extensive evaluations, using student scores on standardized tests, teacher portfolios, and now additional testing and certification. Everyone is trying to find the silver bullet to fix the education system and right now teachers are the target. If teachers are tired of felling like rules and initiatives are happening to them, it is time to speak up. I know so many quality teachers who are effective! These are the voices lawmakers need to hear. These are the stories that need to be shared.

Cheers!

Tabitha

Posted in Uncategorized, Utah Education Policy

How to Make a Public Comment on the Academic Pathway to Teaching (APT) Rule

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Attention teachers and community members, this is your call to action. The Academic Pathway to Teaching will become a rule on August 30th unless the board hears enough compelling comments from the public on why this is a rule will negatively affect education in our state. You can read the rule in its entirety here.

There is so much more to teaching and the idea  that anyone who can pass a content test can teach completely minimizes the training teachers received in their teacher prep program. Those who are pro APT teachers argue that principals and district hiring teams will still ultimately have the say on who they hire, and can chose not to hire  Academic Pathway to Teaching teachers. However, I fear that the incredible damage to current teacher morale will be irreparable. The message will have been sent that teaching is easy, training isn’t needed, and there is no need to focus on educational pedagogy. With already low enrollment in Utah’s 10 current teacher prep programs, I worry that college students will stop choosing education as a college major altogether. You can read my full thoughts here.

Teachers- your voice can be heard and can make a difference. If you are like me, you may not have made very many public comments, but I promise it is easy. Simply submit your comments to rule.comments@schools.utah.gov

Cheers!

Tabitha

Posted in Uncategorized, Utah Education Policy

The USOE is Now the USBE

As all teachers know, there are many education acronyms. In order to talk to talk, it’s important to keep up with the professional lingo. The most recent change in terminology comes straight from the State. The Utah State Office of Education, also known as USOE, has officially changed its name to…drum-roll please…. the Utah State Board of Education or USBE.

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So, as you’re casually talking with your friends about SAGE and IEPs, and how your PM is due by COB, make sure you don’t slip up and call the USBE the USOE, that’s just so passé.

Posted in Uncategorized, Utah Education Policy

Every Utah Teacher Should Know Their State Superintendent, Sydnee Dickson

I have a confession. When I first started teaching I had no idea who the state superintendent was. In fact, for my first several years of teaching I had no idea who they state superintendent was. I was only aware of my school and my school administration. I had no idea there was a whole hierarchy of educational leadership. My first baby steps into  understanding educational roles in the state was getting to know the staff at the Utah State Office of Education. I would see them at various state meetings, and made a point of introducing myself and beginning to form relationships. I quickly learned that the state staff were incredibly nice and always willing to help when I had questions.

At my first convening in Washington DC as a National Teaching Fellow  for Hope Street Group, all of the DC natives kept asking me if I knew Syd. Everyone kept telling me I was lucky to be an educator in Utah because Syd was so great to work with. Syd? Who was Syd? Of course I immediately began researching. I couldn’t be “caught” not knowing all the big names in Utah education. At that time Syd Dickson was the Utah State Deputy Superintendent. I did know who the state Superintendent was, so that was good, but I am embarrassed to admit I didn’t even know there was a Deputy Superintendent. Now that I am learning more about education policy and teacher advocacy, I make sure I know who all of my bosses are…and their bosses…and their bosses bosses. If I want my voice to be heard, I need to know who all the key stakeholders are.

If Sydnee was even remotely as great as everyone was telling me, I knew she was someone I wanted to work with. I sent her an email and a tweet, and guess what? She immediately got back to me. I am fortunate to know teachers all across the nation and I know that this sort of relationship with a state deputy or superintendent is rare. Sydnee is kind, professional, and she immediately put me to work! She put me in touch with several state education committees where I could act as a representative for teachers across the state.

Since my first virtual meeting with Syd and several in person run ins since then, Sydnee was made State Acting Superintendent, and then State Interim Superintendent. This month, Sydnee Dickson was appointed the official Utah State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Congratulations, Superintendent Dickson!

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As a state public education official there are MANY stakeholders to collaborate with. Parents, policy makers, teachers, administrators, community members; all while making sure the best interest of students are being met. In my experience in working with Sydnee, she is a true advocate for teachers, and has mastered the art of working with all stakeholders. I reached out to Superintendent Dickson and asked her if there is anything that teachers specifically should know about her. This was her response:

“I am an educator and therefor, understand the complexities of being a teacher. I want to hear their voices. Teachers need to be better about telling their stories; both the challenges and the successes. Knowing local and state Board members as well as their legislators, and engaging with them in ways that lead to positive outcomes, can make all the differences in education policy.”

Well said superintendent.

Cheers!

Tabitha

 

Posted in Uncategorized, Utah Education Policy

Teacher Licenses and Levels in the state of Utah

In the State of Utah there are three levels of teacher licensure. Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. For a detailed explanation of the licensing process, you can refer to the Utah State Office of Education Licensing page, OR, just keep reading and I will give you basic overview.

First things to know. There are 3 ways to get a license in Utah.

  • Move into Utah with a current out of state teaching license. Depending on the states reciprocity with Utah licensing system will determine how easy or difficult of a process this is.
  • Work on an Alternative Route to Licensure. The Utah State Office of Education explains that. “Utah’s ARL Program is a teacher preparation program for individuals who wish to earn an initial Level 1 teaching license or are currently licensed teachers who wish to earn another type of teaching license. ARL allows participants to teach in an accredited Utah school on a temporary license for up to three years while they are fulfilling licensure requirements.”

Level 1- this is the license teachers receive after they successfully complete their Teacher Prep Program, including the required student teaching hours, and passing the mandatory Praxis test. Teachers are also generally considered a Level 1 teacher if they are working on a Letter of Authorization or are a teacher going through the Alternative Route to Licensure (ARL) process. Teachers can only work as a Level 1 teacher for 3 years as they go through the Entry Years Enhancement (EYE) process. If a teacher is unable to upgrade to a Level 2 after their first three years as a Level 1 teacher, the individual must pay a fine to extend their Level 1 license for an additional year.

Level 2- after successful completion of EYE as a Level 1 teacher, a teacher can apply to upgrade to a Level 2 license. A Level 2 license must be renewed every 5 years. Most teachers in the state of Utah remain a Level 2 teacher for the entirety of their career.

Level 3- the only way to become a Level 3 teacher in the state of Utah is to complete a Phd in an education related field or, to be a National Board Certified Teacher. This is one of the reasons I chose to become a National Board Certified Teacher, so I could have a Level 3 license in my state. A Level 3 license must be renewed every 10 years.

I think Utah is a wonderful state to live and teach in. If you have more questions about becoming a licensed teacher in Utah, please refer to the State Office of Education.

Cheers!

Tabitha

Posted in In My Own Opinion, Utah Education Policy

Creating your first blog: the basics for a teacher blog

I am here working in Denver at a We Work office learning the basics of creating a teacher blog. Many of my amazing Hope Street Group National Teacher Fellows have incredible blogs, so I am a little late to the game.

First step to creating this blog- informative training from pro-blogger, Meghan Everett. I know not everyone has access to a successful scholastic blogger, but before you start your own blog, I would recommend doing research on how to be an effective blogger.

Second step- I had to pick a blog hosting platform. There are many to chose from, such as blogger, medium, square-space, but I chose to go with WordPress.

Third step- start designing. This is the fun part, but can also be time consuming. I spent far to much time playing with color choices and layout options.

Fourth step- write my first post! Yay me–this is my first post (thanks so much for reading).

Final step- create a plan for maintaining my blog. Meghan suggested I create an editorial calendar so I have an ongoing list of what and when I plan to post. She also taught me how to automate posts so I can write them in advance.

I can do this.

As I have spent the last year working on national and state education policy, I have realized that there is not a strong teacher voice in my state of Utah. I plan to change that. There are so many talented educators in this state, and I want their ideas to be heard by local policy makers. This blog is just one platform to help teacher across the state of Utah to connect with each other and learn about local education issues.

Thanks for following along as I work to elevate teacher voice in the beaUTiful state of Utah.

Cheers-

Tabitha