Tag: Equip

GUEST POST: REFLECTIONS ON THE 2016 TEACHER SUMMIT

GUEST POST: REFLECTIONS ON THE 2016 TEACHER SUMMIT

There is no question that the last few years in education — with their myriad of changes in standards, testing and teaching evaluations, and all the debates that went with them — have sometimes made teachers feel hard pressed to stay on top of everything being asked of them.

Through it all, we used each other as sounding boards for ideas on how to adopt Common Core, how to prepare kids for PARCC and for how to upload those NMTeach artifacts. And we also did plenty of griping about those responsible (read Secretary Hanna Skandera).

So when I found out about the recent New Mexico Teacher Summit and that it would provide the opportunity to ask some of the burning questions that have come up over the last few years, I jumped at the chance. And I was not disappointed.

No, I didn’t convince Secretary Skandera to dump the evaluation system or get rid of EOCs. But I did find out that she and her staff are open to, and actually want, feedback from teachers in order to improve those systems.

In every session I attended, from NMTeach 101 to an introduction to the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, our presenters invited questions and did their best to answer them honestly. And they didn’t sugarcoat the problems or why they chose their solutions. I also got the chance to hear from tons of smart, talented teachers from across the state. It was clear they care about kids and want our schools to serve them better.

I also learned more about the Secretary’s Teacher Advisory, a group of 17 teachers from across New Mexico who are doing their best to present our perspective to Secretary Skandera and report back to those of us on the ground. There are also plans to form a larger group of teacher leaders who will hopefully translate all that state policy to those of us who are too busy planning lessons to pay attention to every change coming our way.

It would be a lie to say that I came away completely convinced of every move Secretary Skandera and her staff have made recently. I still think we can get better at helping kids and supporting teachers. But I can say that as teachers we can’t sit idly by complaining. We need to jump in there with our own ideas and solutions, from policy on down to classroom practice.

The New Mexico Teacher Summit was a valuable first step in empowering teachers to be a part of the process. I wait eagerly to find out what becomes of all the opinions and ideas that teachers shared over the summit’s two days. And I can’t wait until next year.

John Sena is an English teacher at Española Valley High School

Recap of the 2016 Teacher Summit

Recap of the 2016 Teacher Summit

Coming into this new role directly from the classroom, I knew one thing to be certain. Teachers like me must feel valued as professionals and have access to the information needed to best serve our students.

On July 19 and 20, I, along with, the teachers who make up the Secretary’s Teacher Advisory and the Public Education Department, hosted the inaugural New Mexico Teacher Summit. This two-day event equipped, empowered, and championed over 300 teachers from around the state bringing to fruition that which I knew to be certain; teachers must feel valued and have information.

Through 4 general sessions and 39 break-out sessions, the Summit left teachers feeling like their voices were heard, afforded them access to meaningful professional development, and elevated their spirits by being celebrated as professionals.

Thanks to the outpouring of support, you don’t have to take my word for it. I want to share a few words from my peers who attended this powerful event.

“I learned so much and I feel empowered to move forward this next year. Thank you so much for the NM Teachers Summit. I was awestruck by the shift in the narrative surrounding education. I am excited to be a part of what is coming.”
Michelle Baber, Middle School Teacher in Farmington, NM

“Thank you for the Summit! I feel so energized and excited by all the connections I made there and all the GREAT workshops.”
Gretchen Vanketesh, Middle School Teacher in Santa Fe, NM

“Thank you for insisting that the NM Teachers Summit take place. The conversations have started, and thanks to your work, the doors of communication are now open.”
Jenifer Hooten, High School Charter School Teacher in Santa Fe, NM

“I just wanted to thank you for the opportunity to attend this first (of hopefully many) New Mexico Teacher Summits. Everyone there agreed that as a whole the teachers finally felt like we had a voice and were being heard.”
Tina Hudson, Elementary School Teacher in Bloomfield, NM

“I was super impressed that our vision of getting teachers to start the school year off on a positive, energizing way seemed to work! Secretary Skandera has really listened to us, and I, personally, feel valued.”
Kevin Balder- Secretary’s Teacher Advisory Member & High School Teacher in Albuquerque, NM

The Summit was met with resounding enthusiasm and positivity. Teachers who attended the Summit left with excitement and energy to begin the upcoming school year.

As the Teacher Liaison for the Public Education Department and a teacher straight out of the classroom, I had a vision for this event as a pivotal step in elevating the teaching profession. Going forward, I will remind teachers of how valued and important they are. I will work to improve the communication between the PED and teachers around the state. I will share opportunities for teachers to feel equipped, empowered, and championed in our profession. The inaugural New Mexico Teacher Summit was just the first step in this mission to further support teachers in our state.

But, I know that I can’t do it alone. I will need the help of teachers across the state to help and I’m thrilled that I had the opportunity to meet so many of you at the Summit. I look forward to our continued collaboration as I move forward in my mission to Equip, Empower and Champion.

To all those who attended, thank you! We look forward to seeing you next year!

Alicia Duran
Secretary’s Teacher Advisory Member, High School Teacher in Albuquerque