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2018 National Title I Conference: Liberty to Learn

2018 National Title I Conference: Liberty to Learn


I had the distinct privilege to attend the recent National Title I conference in Philadelphia last month. Along with two colleagues and our school’s Director, I took three days away from my school and students to travel across the country to accept a 2018 Title I Distinguished School Award. This award was for closing the achievement gap between student groups, and was the result of the hard work of our entire staff. What an honor to be one of two schools in New Mexico to receive this award (shout out to the other honoree: Union Elementary School in Las Vegas, NM)! While the award was a surprise and something to celebrate, I quickly learned that the four days spent with educators from across the country was a meaningful opportunity for my own learning.

Let me back up to say that I hardly ever leave New Mexico for professional reasons. When I lived on the east coast, it was very easy to travel to conferences and events where I could collaborate and learn from other teachers. Given our geographic isolation, however, many of us in New Mexico rely on conversations with fellow teachers and on reading professional articles to further our own development and growth. This trip demonstrated to me that you cannot underestimate the importance of meaningful conversation and professional development with those from other communities and perspectives.

Although we had travelled a very long day to get to Philly and our first session was early the next morning, I was immediately engaged by National Teacher of the Year Sydney Chaffee’s keynote address. Some of you may have heard Sydney speak at our New Mexico Teacher Summit last June. I enjoyed meeting her in Albuquerque, so I anticipated her address. She spoke at length about how education can be a tool for social justice, challenging us all to take risks on behalf of our students and give voice to issues affecting them (and us). She reminded us how important we are, and we agreed. I felt like I was a young teacher again, full of passion and purpose.

We ended the day with an armchair interview with former US Secretary of Education John King. I felt hopeful to know that such thoughtful and intelligent people are considering how to make education viable and equitable. This work is happening in so many ways, on so many levels. The thousands of educators in the room (teachers, principals, superintendents, and district level leaders) were clearly enthusiastic about the messages from the stage: all students deserve the opportunity to learn. And the Distinguished Schools celebration showed that, in fact, schools from all over the country are ensuring that they are.

While I attended break-out sessions on areas of interest to me (spelling instruction, brain-based instruction for phonics, student engagement, and the power of speech), my Director learned about social emotional awareness and how to use restorative practices to improve school culture. Over dinner each evening, the four of us from Taos Charter discussed how to bring back our new learning to New Mexico. We talked about how to look at grading, how to connect to students, and other over-arching ideas to improve our school. We felt energized by Salome Thomas-EL (Principal El) from Philadelphia and his keynote talk on how one person can make a difference. My teaching partner and I embraced his mantra: No excuses! So often those of us in Title I schools sink into that attitude that we cannot make a difference, that we cannot teach certain kids. This conference blasted us out of that mentality.

So why am I writing this blog post for New Mexico teachers? I feel impelled to share with you that you can, and must, fight to attend any regional or national conference you can. Consider writing a grant, requesting Title II funds from your school or district, or looking for scholarships. Talk to others, join a professional online community, take a class. Subscribe to articles or blog posts by those working on a national level to keep learning focused on students. Be inspired by the successes of other schools and teachers. Remember that it only takes one passionate teacher in the life of a child. Be that person for one child. No excuses.

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: Edward Pena

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: Edward Pena


The Best part of teaching is when you get to see the students after they graduate and find out what they are doing and especially when they say, “Thank you!”

I am a graduate of Cobre High School, Class of 1981 and a graduate of Western New Mexico University in 1986 with a BA in Zoology/Education and MA in Counseling in 2001. I have been teaching since 1987.  I first taught in Fabens, TX, Fabens Middle School Science, which taught me a great deal of my core foundational practices as a teacher. I returned to my community and have been Teaching/Counseling at Cobre High School since 1988.  I taught high school sciences, which included Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Physical Science and Earth Science, for 14 years.  While teaching I was a sponsor for the Math, Engineer, Science, Engineering Achievement, Inc. (MESA) organization, Department Chairperson and National Honor Society Sponsor.  I also coached tennis for 15 years.  Being able to work with students outside of the regular school day was a true gift.  For the past 16 years I have been the School Counselor.  I am always amazed to say that I have been in education for 31 years.  I still enjoy the challenge of learning and working with students and staff.  I am first and foremost a teacher, and continue that in my practice as the school counselor.  I strive to be active in the school, in the classroom, and work to help teach students other aspects to prepare them for their future.  I work to stay active within the school and continue to support students, staff and other district schools.

I wish I could say that I was unique in my field. There are many teachers within our state that work tirelessly, with little resources and little recognition and yet doing wonderful and inspiring things.  Those are our true gems in the field of education.  All teachers should be recognized, respected and valued for their knowledge and passion for teaching and what they do for our students.  True teaching goes beyond the books, the issues and rules. Schools and teachers get more and more responsibilities, duties, expectations, requirements and roles put upon them, and often with little resources, time, pay and incentive.  However, they still work and do their best, I admire these teachers!  All Teachers are the real New Mexico Spotlights!

Through my years I have had many opportunities afforded to me through my mentors, administrators and district. Their encouragement has always been vital in my growth and the growth of others.  I am fortunate, and I work to create and open up these same opportunities to others.

One of the best parts of teaching is when you see students get the idea or concept. When you see students work and strive for more, and especially when you see them succeed.  I always tell students success is different for everyone.  Some success is huge and some is day to day accomplishment, but no matter what it is success  creates and encourages opportunity.  One of the best parts of teaching for me, is when I see a student’s after they graduate and get to see their success and accomplishments.  It is especially uplifting when the students say, “I finally understand all those things everyone was trying to tell me, and now I understand and wish I could go back and say Thank you!” To me that is when I know I had an impact.

Still after 31 years, I plan to continue in education. I challenge myself to continue to LEARN and continue to TEACH!

Lesson Planning with Hannah Peria

Lesson Planning with Hannah Peria

We are excited to share the fourth in our series of podcasts and webinars related to educational issues.  Please listen in as we interview the movers and shakers in New Mexico education.  Our fourth broadcast features Hannah Peria, Deputy Director of Priority Schools, where she reviews how the most successful teaching begins with clarity about desired learning outcomes and about the evidence that will show that learning has occurred.

Lesson Planning Webinar

Family Engagement with Gloria Ruiz

Family Engagement with Gloria Ruiz

We are excited to share the third in our series of podcasts related to educational issues.  Please listen in as we interview the movers and shakers in New Mexico education.  Our third podcast features Gloria Ruiz, Family Engagement Coordinator, where she provides an overview how parental involvement has evolved to family engagement and explains how teachers can make tweaks to their current practices to elevate their work with parents and families.

family_engagement_podcast_1.11.18

 

National Arts in Education Week 2017: September 10-16

National Arts in Education Week 2017: September 10-16

As educators, we recognize how critical it is to include the arts into our instruction to ensure students receive a complete education.  September 10-16, we celebrate National Arts in Education Week.  Please share stories detailing how you incorporate the arts into your daily instruction.  If you’re interested in writing a blog that provides a more in-depth description of your practice, please email me at Isaac.Rivas-Savell@state.nm.us, and we will include it using this platform.  Please include any and all photos documenting your lessons. Check the link below for more details.

http://www.americansforthearts.org/by-topic/arts-education/national-arts-in-education-week

Launch of New Secretary’s Teacher Advisory

Launch of New Secretary’s Teacher Advisory

The NM Public Education Department is Equipping, Empowering & Championing Teachers by Launching the 2nd Cohort of the Secretary’s Teacher Advisory Committee

Last week, the Public Education Department announced the launch of the 2017-2018 cohort of the Secretary’s Teacher Advisory Committee. After a rigorous selection process from 242 applicants, 26 teachers representing 23 school districts and 1 state authorized charter school were chosen to serve on the committee.

The Secretary’s Teacher Advisory will have the opportunity to continue to build upon the foundation established by the first cohort by developing teacher leadership opportunities, providing guidance and perspective to the department, and ultimately helping better serve New Mexico’s students by establishing a solutions-oriented connection between the PED and educators. The first cohort of the advisory established the Annual New Mexico Teacher Summit, helped launch the New Mexico Teacher Leader Network, co-hosted community ESSA meetings during the New Mexico Rising Tour, and created new resources for New Mexico’s teachers.

“This was my greatest honor as an educator. For the first time in my career I felt valued, empowered, and reinvigorated. I was able to express my concerns and share my passion for education – I finally had a voice!” said Cohort 1 STA member Ashley Randall of Rio Rancho Public Schools. “It was wonderful to network and interact with the PED staff.  I acquired a great deal of information and always returned to my school/district to share my knowledge. My leadership skills and teaching practices have improved because of the STA.”

Teacher Advisory members meet with Acting Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski at in-person quarterly meetings and monthly conference calls to provide valuable insight into education issues across the state and gain access to new and up-to-date information.

“Under the leadership of Governor Susana Martinez, our department is always looking for new ways to equip, empower, and champion teachers and school leaders across the state,” said Secretary Ruszkowski. “Our educators have had and will continue to have a voice in the decision making process that ultimately determines what goes on in their classrooms. I look forward to working with the advisory committee and listening to their ideas to improve education.”

The new cohort’s first meeting took place on Saturday, August 12th. The department will work side-by-side with the STA members to compile agendas for each meeting.

“It was an honor to be on this committee.  I learned so much and loved being informed about what was going on in the PED,” said former STA member Perri Hathorn of Eunice Municipal Schools. “I loved being a part of such a wonderful group.  We really did make a difference!

The following educators were selected to serve on the 2017-2018 Secretary’s Teacher Advisory:

Felicitas Adame-Reyes Rio Rancho Public Schools
Leslie Baker Taos Municipal Schools
Dawn Bilbrey Texico Municipal Schools
Julia Burrola State Authorized Charter
Heather Campbell Hobbs Municipal Schools
Jayne Combs Portales Municipal Schools
Maria Haase Artesia Public Schools
Joel Hutchinson Las Cruces Public Schools
Jacob Kolander Albuquerque Public Schools
Elizabeth Long Gallup-McKinley County Schools
Michelle Lopez Jal Public Schools
Tennise Lucas Roswell Independent Schools
Jody Martinez Cimarron Municipal Schools
Patricia Martinez Albuquerque Public Schools
John McElhinney Raton Public Schools
Roxanne Mitchell Clovis Municipal Schools
Monica Montoya Penasco Independent School District
Samantha Nelson Farmington Municipal Schools
Monica Nunez Gadsden Independent Schools
Ashley Randall Rio Rancho Public Schools
Aoife Runyan Santa Fe Public Schools
Robin Stevens Eunice Public Schools
Rena Stone Mesa Vista Consolidated Schools
Andrea Thomas Central Consolidated Schools
Alysha Wagley Animas Public Schools
Kathy Zimmermann Deming Public Schools
Top 10 Highlights of the NM Teacher Summit

Top 10 Highlights of the NM Teacher Summit

In case you missed it, June 26th and 27th marked our Second Annual NM Teacher Summit. The event was huge success with 1,000 teachers from all over the state coming together to celebrate one another and continue to grow in their craft and career.

Check out the 10 Ten things about the 2nd Annual Teacher Summit:

  1. 1,000 attendees

    This year, the summit grew to 3x the size of last year. It was a true joy to see 1,000 teachers gathered full of positivity and excitement! Two years ago, the Secretary’s Teacher Advisory said they wanted a summer conference, we would never have dreamed that just two years later we’d be standing on stage looking at a crowd of 1,000 teachers!

  2. Improved Communication

    In my role, I often hear from teachers that they feel “out of the loop”. I had many conversations over two days in which teachers said they finally feel like they know what is going on and feel included in the path ahead!

  3. Acting Secretary Ruszkowski’s first keynote address

    It was great to see Acting Secretary Ruszkowski deliver his first ever keynote address as Acting Secretary during the Summit’s opening session and to learn more about his personal story and passion for education. Later, he spent time in small group sessions with teachers answering tough questions with finesse and commitment. Teachers really enjoyed meeting one on one.

  4. New Teacher Leader Opportunities

    We shared so many opportunities for teachers to be change agents for education in New Mexico at the Summit. Teach Plus shared their application for the 2nd cohort of the New Mexico Teach Plus Fellowship. The New Mexico Literacy Dream Team shared the 36 close reading lesson plans and announced the launch of the 2nd New Mexico Dream Team which will focus on Social Studies. Stay tuned for the application. We also announced the expansion of the New Mexico Teacher Leader Network and the 2nd Cohort of the Secretary’s Teacher Advisory. The 2nd Cohort of the STA will be selected by the end of the month and the application with for the expansion of the New Mexico Teacher Leader Network will be out this Fall.

  5. Empowered Teachers 

    Through the course of the conference we were able to see teachers realize that they have so much power to impact change for their students and schools. I really enjoyed watching teachers lean into their power as teachers and begin to empower others.

  6. Secretary Skandera’s Final Interview with Romy Drucker from The 74 Million

    Although her last day on the job was June 20th, Secretary Skandera was present at the New Mexico Teacher Summit and did a final interview with the CEO of the online education site, The 74 Million, Romy Drucker. Secretary Skandera reflected on her time in New Mexico, shared her lessons learned, and thanked the teachers for attending and creating so many opportunities for teachers to be equipped, empowered and championed.

  7. National Teacher of the Year Sydney Chaffee 

    It was such an honor to have the National Teacher of the Year, Sydney Chaffee, join us for the Summit. Sydney delivered the keynote address at our celebration dinner on night 1 of the summit. During her keynote, Sydney talked about the power of teacher voice and encouraged all teachers to get involved.

  8. More than 36 awesome break out sessions

    PED Staff and external partners came together to host more than 36 breakout sessions on everything form iStation and PARCC, to Teacher Evaluation and School Grades, small group sessions with Acting Secretary Ruszkowski and focus groups on new literacy programs. We also had sessions on Teacher Leader opportunities, Curriculum and Lesson Planning and so much more. All sessions were kicked off by a teacher leader, which was a great way to highlight their effort and commitment.

  9. #NMTeacherSummit

    We had a blast following teacher’s favorite moments and take-aways on Twitter. Participants were encouraged to interact using #NMTeacherSummit allowing others to follow along.

  10. Teachers Leading

    Our teacher leaders were in force at the Summit. They introduced every break out session, introduced every keynote speakers, led teacher shout outs from the stage and assisted their colleagues. Some of our teacher leaders even led break out sessions. This was truly our vision come to life. Teachers equipping, empowering and championing their peers. It was the highlight of my career to watch it unfold.

The NM Teacher Summit equipped, empowered, and championed our teachers, but don’t take my word for it. Check out what teachers had to say about the event:

Santa Fe Teacher

I had an amazing time these past two days! I truly believe that we are on a positive path in New Mexico! 

Las Cruces Teacher

The Summit made me realize I need to get out of my comfort zone after 28 years of teaching. I can’t wait to get the STA application in my hand, and if that doesn’t work out, I’ll apply for the School Liaison. There is so much work to be done, and I want to be part of it!!! 

Albuquerque Teacher

This girl is on FIRE! Based on two of the breakout sessions, I have revamped my first two weeks of lessons. Inquiry based life science with argumentation discussions based on Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning. I am so excited! Also, I’m hoping to take these ideas back to my site and share with my colleagues. Between the STEM Symposium and The Summit, I am fired up! Thank you NMPED and our teacher leaders! 

Artesia Teacher

It was so enjoyable to spend two days in such a positive atmosphere. 

Texico Teacher

I have of being a part of something so incredibly dynamic and motivating! From the beginning to the end, I felt that I was involved in something transformative and inspired. The general sessions were all inclusive and uniting, and the break outs supported so many varied personal interests. The two days were uplifting and affirming as an educator. I feel valued and respected, heard and recognized, and most of all, championed. 

We hope to see you at next year’s Teacher Summit! Date to come soon!

To find resources and presentations from the teacher summit click here.