Tag: Teacher Opportunities

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: Tennise Lucas

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: Tennise Lucas

It is a big world out there, but I tell my students that they can do anything. In the words of Walt Disney, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” My job is not just to teach academics; but to help students navigate their lives while striving for their best.

I am a native Roswellite via Canada. I grew up between living in town and on my grandparents ranch in Lincoln County. This was my first classroom of sorts as I learned how to ride horses, brand cattle, and fix fences. Most of my education was in Roswell. After graduating from high school, several career changes, a bachelor’s degree, and the birth of my world; Echo, I decided to finally commit to teaching. This was not a decision I took lightly. I believe that the cornerstone of our country is our children, and the education they receive is vital.

My intentions were never to become a principal. One of my former superintendents once told me that if I didn’t like how things were going, I needed to be a principal. So, I was given an opportunity and received my leadership training through the National Institute for Student Leadership in conjunction with ENMU. This training was invaluable as it opened my eyes to the necessity for change in our educational system. I received a Master of Education from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. and my New Mexico Teacher’s Certificate from Eastern New Mexico University. Currently, I am a state representative for my district on the Secretary Teacher Advisory Council and one of the ambassadors for my school. My leadership roles include Superintendent Advisory Council, PD training, a mentor for other teachers, and school based leadership team. I am a fierce advocate for my students and passionate about their learning.

When not in the classroom, I am in a dance room. In 2003, I was an originating instructor of The Studio+. In 2005, I was certified in the discipline of Tap under board certification with the Texas Association Teachers of Dancing, Inc. I continue to work with children through tap and Irish dancing at the studio.

After fifteen years of teaching in both private and public school settings, I am not ready to leave the classroom. I will continue to work for teachers and my students in an attempt to help develop innovative, safe, and effective 21st century learning environments that will foster both academic and emotional well-being.

Students Aim High Through Self-Reflection

Students Aim High Through Self-Reflection

Every morning my Chaparral, NM, students stand and wait for their school bus on unpaved dusty road sides that border the narrow fractured streets; careful to avoid street cars, getting pinched by looming cactus, or running into unleashed aggressive dogs. The earliest school bus arrives at Desert Trail Elementary by 7:30 am.  “Will we have schedule X?” students immediately ask as they step off the bus and see that the winds begin to pick up and a gray curtain of dust is seen on the horizon.  My 5th graders walk through the main building to the side doors, once again stepping outside to walk towards their classroom portable.

As soon as students step into the portable, they drop off their backpacks on their desks. Each group of tables is aligned using the 2 inch wide worn out tears that run across the brown Berber carpet.  Students quickly set up the 3 classroom computers. Until recently, we had four before one of them became a permanent freeze frame.  “It’s too windy, we probably will not be able to use the internet today,” the students remind me as I keep clicking on the district website and receive the notice to check my network connection.

Another group of students take the plastic colored baskets to begin handing out their composition notebooks that are essential in our Balanced Literacy classroom. These notebooks help us with crucial organization because as a true, self contained Dual Language setting, students do all their work in both English and Spanish.  The mismatched donated metal shelves, refurbished wood stand, and black plastic containers hold our partial classroom materials.  We might not have new furniture or complete resources; however we have a positive learning environment and strong initiative to improve.

From day one, I inform my students that they will grow both academically and as individuals, despite the dismal setting. They’re smiles turned into squinting eyes of concern when I mentioned they would need to work to the best of their abilities and that they would be required to present in front of small and large crowds. “I have volunteered you to present at the first district board meeting taking place in a couple of weeks,” I enthusiastically mentioned to my students on the first day of their 5th grade school year. They immediately knew that I was going to set high-expectations for them, every day, all year long.

As soon as I receive students’ data, even before I meet them, I see the possibilities within. My students’ academic levels are diverse; on top of learning a second language they face many hurdles. For this reason, it is my goal to show my students that their education represents much more that just academics; it represents self worth and advocacy.  By being active participants in our education, collecting, documenting, and analyzing our own data we learn to self reflect and create goals that can support overall growth.

My students, colleagues, and I work hard to see positive outcomes, and we know that collaboration is an important part of success. As a partner teacher of the Game Plan for Success Aim High Fellowship Educators for High Standards, I received additional support to help my students aim high, coach them to listen and practice, and teach them the value of testing themselves.

“You are not a number, but we need to use these numbers to monitor our growth. We need to use data to study what we are doing and what we can do to improve as learners,” I make sure to reinforce to my students.  During our first Student/Parent/Teacher Conference, as parents and students walked into our classroom to have a conversation about academic gains and needs, the importance to set educational goals and for students to know and reflect on their own learning is reinforced. Only a small percentage of students’ parents may be able to understand and analyze their child’s data. “Usted sabe maestra, yo nunca fui buena estudiante, así que yo quiero que ella sea mejor,” the majority of the parents comment on how they were never good students and want their child to be better. Parents place this desire of their children improving in the hands of the teachers. Parents need to be students’ best educational advocates, but with limited understanding this advocacy can be diminished. My plan as part of the Aim High Teacher Fellowship is to instill the importance of setting high standard goals and prepare ourselves to accomplish them.

Teaching students to be self advocates takes time and perseverance, to help your students reach their highest potential. For me, as well as for many teachers, time is an obstacle, for this reason I create a schedule that helps smooth transitions and allows for effective student learning, collaboration, and time for self reflection. When my students are given the initiative to provide feedback on classroom management and instruction, it promotes self awareness and ownership. “My behavior during class time is getting  better, because I don’t talk loud like if I have a microphone,” Leslie explains in her data folder after acknowledging that when she speaks loudly it can affect the learning of others.  Providing students with tools to be responsible for their own data and learn how analyze it, will create self advocates.

Watching my students explain their own learning process and goals to their parents, I could see how impressed and proud their parents felt knowing their children could read their own information.   My own mother only had a second grade education in Mexico.    I relate to how parents may not understand the data being presented to them concerning their child because this was my own experience.

“Mrs. Rios did you already check on my reading test. Did I complete the next level?” asked Keera during our conference. Mom quickly looked at her with a slight tilt of her head and low tone reprimanded, “Keera…”  “It’s okay. I teach my students to ask questions and check with me on grades, assignments, assessments…after all they are the ones who do the work,” I quickly replied.  I need for my students to know that I will do the best I can to support them, but they too need to apply themselves and work to make our efforts worthwhile.

To make sure my students’ academic efforts demonstrate results, I consider all aspects of their learning. I have to keep in mind their proficiency level as English Language Learners and consider that assessments are becoming more rigorous.  My students and I use data and relevant information to redirect instruction if needed, allowing for an opportunity to modify problem-solving strategies.  As teachers, the availability of data prompts us to reflect on our instruction and should do the same for our students.  Reflection can promote and help develop higher level thinking.

Throughout the school year, proficiency levels need to be reviewed, recorded, analyzed, and reflected upon. In order for students to properly reflect on their own data, I guide them through the process of purposeful reflection. It is crucial to promote a supportive, safe, and encouraging classroom environment.  “I went up another level on my Reading test.  This time I made sure to not get distracted,” Mari proudly commented as her classmates gave her a round of applause.   This year I intentionally provide time for students to reflect and form inquiries regarding their learning style, instruction and/or learning needs, instruction and/or learning strengths, and reasons or evidence of results.

Student reflection can be challenging due to time, availability of data (limited or overload), different academic levels, different learning styles, and limited parent availability and/or understanding of educational standards. In order to accomplish the challenge of generating a reflective student environment I had to:

  • Identify data sets for students to analyze.
  • Become flexible with time or schedule time for student data self analysis. (Use district Scope and Sequence dates.)
  • Differentiate for students to understand how data can support their academic gains.
  • Promote an environment of inquiry and peer support.
  • Create reflective journal, data collection sheets, and provide guiding questions to ensure students’ self-reflections stay focused on achieving educational gains.
  • Students set goals that encourage high standards.
  • Provide opportunities and options for parents to participate in data analysis and learn how to support their child.

 AIMING HIGH TOGETHER

The Aim High Fellowship challenged me to use data intentionally and teach my students how to use it to set goals and also made it possible to partner with a professional athlete who knows how important it is to set and achieve goals. My students could not believe their mentor for their 5th grade school year would be former NFL record breaking wide receiver Rocket Ismail who played for the Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys.  Being a part of the Aim High Fellowship helped me as I created a game plan for success that gave us that extra push that many of my students needed.

The partnership with an NFL player was a motivating factor for my students, but the personal connection I developed with my students through the goal setting and practice was even more of a catalyst for academic momentum. “I feel better knowing you are her teacher,” were the words Maria’s mother gave me on the first day of school.  Maria came into my 5th grade Dual Language classroom reading at a beginning 3rd grade level in English and beginning 4th grade level in Spanish.  Figuring out what was the piece missing in order to make academic gains was a challenging task. I quickly learned that Maria does best when working at her own pace and is open to new strategies, and resources. .  Her motivation and sense of responsibility helps her keep track of her work and pace how far she can go.  I also make sure I am ready to go to the next level when she feels she is ready. Being in a Dual Language classroom means that there is double assessments and this can be overwhelming for a child.  Knowing how to monitor this is essential to have the best outcomes.  Maria’s willingness to work has become her signature move.  I am proud to say Maria’s online assessment states she is “Performing as an average 6th grade student who took this test in July.”  She is also demonstrating 5th grade level competency in math.  In our classroom book, Maria included a dedication to our Aim High partner athlete Rocket Ismail: “I want to dedicate this story to Rocket Ismail who inspired me to not give up on the hardest moments or to not get nervous when something happens.”

Maria’s note to Mr. Ismail: “Mr. Rocket, remember the first time some of our classmates asked you questions? I was one of the students that asked you a question.  I asked how I could not be nervous and shy because I was shy.  Our class was planning to compete in a Literacy Festival and I was so shy that I said ‘NO’ on the permission paper, but Mrs. Rios told me to take the paper back home and think about it.  I thought about it and finally said ‘YES’.  The days passed, and finally it was time to compete.  Three of my classmates and I presented Spanish Choral Reading.  We all came out with first place medals.  I want to thank you Mrs. Rocket and Mrs. Rios for inspiring me and helping me.  I want to thank you both for that.”

“I am the light, I am the answer, I am the solution, and I am the remedy!” Students chanted in unison as Rocket Ismail delivered his motivational speech to a cafeteria full of wide-eyed elementary students during his visit to our school. This statement empowers students to reflect on their potential.  It embodies our classroom challenge to develop self reflection skills that enhance our listening, planning and implementation of strategies that can help us see that academic struggles can aid us in measuring and supporting our growth as learners. “I felt myself trembling and holding back tears. I wanted to cry because I felt so happy”, students nodded in agreement as Javier shared his experience from listening to the speech.

As I looked out during this assembly, I saw my future, past, and current students mesmerized by the strong reassuring voice that delivered a message of optimism and strength. My mind went back to my childhood years where just like many of my students I was an English Language Learner that came from a struggling, single-parent family and had overwhelming responsibilities for a child. I know firsthand that education is a way out of economic and/or home life insufficiencies. So, as we begin to experience accomplishments, we don’t remember the decrepit computers and the brown carpet, but we rejoice in the students’ success.

In a teacher’s life there are many stories of success as well as scenarios where weakness can become part of our thoughts. The feeling of weakness can come when the curriculum we need to follow is not well understood, or it does not provide the sufficient resources we need to search, create, and/or purchase. Weakness creeps in when our students’ home life is a struggle, and we feel we have not done enough when our students do not perform to the standards they are required. This feeling takes hold when students’ parents are not well-informed or involved in their child’s life. The feeling of weakness can come when our colleagues lose motivation in our profession, and we do not find the words and/or actions to improve these feelings.  Many things throughout our lives can be a challenge, but striving to improve is the driving force to create life-changing goals and outcomes.  We have to AIM HIGH!

 

Your 2018 New Mexico Teacher of the Year, Ivonne Orozco

Your 2018 New Mexico Teacher of the Year, Ivonne Orozco

From The 2018 New Mexico Teacher of the Year: The Year of Educators’ Voices Rising

As your 2018 New Mexico Teacher of the Year, I am honored to be one of your teacher-leader voices. The diversity amongst us in New Mexico is an asset. My family immigrated here from Mexico when I was 12-years-old. I was an English language learner in middle school and later took honors courses in high school, I ran cross country and track, and I graduated in the top 10% of my class. I am a proud UNM graduate. Go Lobos! But I did not get here alone: I had teachers and family that set core foundations along my journey that contributed to my success. These included: high expectations, staying the course, building a strong voice, and valuing teachers and education.

Every day in my classroom, I keep in mind that all students can be successful no matter where they traveled from to get here in the morning, or how much money their parents have, or how much they still have to learn. I keep my expectations high. It’s unclear why there’s still a misconception out there that students facing challenges at home can’t succeed at school. That is false. Lowering standards for any of our kids is a disservice. They deserve high-quality standards, options, and teachers. My mission for my students at Public Academy for Performing Arts (PAPA) in Albuquerque is to make sure they achieve high academic standards while pursuing artistic excellence.

Staying the course is critical to long-term success in life and in our public education system. As a young teacher, I have witnessed the distress caused by constantly changing systems. Every few years things change with exams, evaluations, and leadership just as we start to adjust. I won’t be complacent when provided the opportunity to sit at the table with policymakers on this issue. I do not have all the answers, but I know that teachers in our state,

who work hard and are passionate about their students, do have collective answers. In my role representing the state’s teachers, I will be a conduit of teacher voices in those conversations.

One way I have decided to take a stance on my beliefs is by using my voice. For far too long, teachers’ voices have not been properly represented. But in recent years, the New Mexico Public Education Department has created opportunities with a Teacher-Leader Network which includes the School Liaison Program, the NM Dream Team, and the Secretary’s Teacher Advisory. I have taken part in these programs and they are creating a network for passionate teachers to advance student learning, learn more about policy, and express concerns. We are leading the nation with this work and we must sustain it.

We must also focus on recruiting the next generation of teachers. Many teachers work within 20 miles of where they attended high school, which means tomorrow’s teachers are sitting right in front of us today. We must show our students the rewards and gratification of being a teacher. Many of my students see themselves in me and I take that very seriously as I continue to be an advocate for my profession and for them. They deserve hope.

As a Dreamer, I know how important it is to know that someone is fighting in your corner. I will continue to stand up for my community and future generations in the fight for a permanent solution for DACA recipients. I want to thank Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski and the PED for giving me this role and platform and for recognizing my work in cultivating student achievement growth.

I hope I am a reflection of the beautiful diversity of our state. I hope that students and teachers can see themselves in me. I have and will continue to give you my all for the remainder of 2018, demonstrating that educator voices like mine are truly on the rise in New Mexico. I will see you throughout 2018!

CTE and STEM Conferences Available to You

CTE and STEM Conferences Available to You

National Conference Comes to Albuquerque!

The Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE) Best Practices and Innovations Conference will be in New Mexico this year. It will be held at the Hotel Albuquerque September 27-29, 2017. If CTE leaders are unable to attend the entire event, there will also be a half-day New Mexico CTE Summit Friday afternoon.

ACTE Best Practices & Innovations Conference https://www.acteonline.org/bestpractices/#.WZHDAU32aUk

Learn about ACTE Professional Membership https://www.acteonline.org/

Engineering, Computer Science, & Biomedical Sciences…Oh My!

The 2017 Project Lead The Way (PLTW) State Conference will be held September 15, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa for current or interested PLTW educators and leaders. Learn more and register for this STEM/CTE learning event.

Register for the NM Conference https://engr.nmsu.edu/nmpltw/2017-nm-pltw-state-conference/

Learn about National PLTW Curriculum https://www.pltw.org/


For questions, contact Bobbi Eichhorst at Barbara.Eichhorst@state.nm.us.

 

CTE: Save The Dates 2017-2018

CTE: Save The Dates 2017-2018

Career & Technical Educators:

Save the dates for the following student and teacher learning opportunities and stay informed this year through the CTSO websites!

2017-18 NM CTSO Conference Dates
October 23, 2017 CORE Leadership Conference Marriott Pyramid
February 1-3, 2018 Educators Rising State Conference Albuquerque
February 8-10, 2018 HOSA State Leadership Conference UNM Hospital
February 15-17, 2018 DECA Career Development Conference Hotel Albuquerque
February 22-24, 2018 BPA State Leadership Conference Marriott Pyramid
March 15-17, 2018 FCCLA State Leadership Conference Marriott Pyramid
March 23-24, 2018 TSA State Leadership Conference Los Lunas HS
March 28, 2018 FFA State Career Development Events NMSU
April 12-14, 2018 SkillsUSA State Leadership & Skills Conference Crowne Plaza
INCYMI: New Mexico’s Teacher Summit featured on Education Post

INCYMI: New Mexico’s Teacher Summit featured on Education Post

In case you miss it, today Education Post featured a guest post by our very own Teacher Liaison, Alicia Duran! The post discusses teacher leadership work in New Mexico and highlights the upcoming Teacher Summit.

If you haven’t seen it, you can check it out here:
In Just 72 Hours This Summit Dedicated to Empowering Teachers Sold Out

Secretary Skandera Celebrates Teacher Appreciation Week

Secretary Skandera Celebrates Teacher Appreciation Week

This letter was written by Secretary Hanna Skandera to honor New Mexico’s teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week and was originally published by the Albuquerque Journal on Monday, May 8th, 2017 at 12:02am.

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week in New Mexico – a perfect opportunity to reflect on the tremendous impact our teachers have in helping every New Mexico child have a chance to succeed in life. Every child in New Mexico – no matter their background – can learn, and the more we stand behind our teachers and support them, the more they have that chance.

Isis Feraudy-Marsilli is a bilingual math teacher in Albuquerque; she sets an example of dedication and leadership that represents some of the best of what our teachers bring into our classrooms every day.No matter what level her students are at when they enter her classroom, she works with them to get them to grade level and reach their fullest potential. “I make my students answer a basic math flashcard before they can come into the classroom,” she says. “They get upset with me, (but, they’re) going to learn the basics AND they’re going to learn geometry. …” I am thankful for teachers like Isis for dedicating themselves to our students and making a difference in the lives of our kids.

Our teachers in New Mexico are making a difference outside the classroom as well. Across the state, teachers are coming together to share ideas and best practices that put our kids first and make our schools stronger. Groups like my Secretary’s Teacher Advisory – volunteer educators looking for opportunities to give feedback, share ideas, improve professional development and communicate with policy makers – are at the forefront of helping us improve education in New Mexico.Because of groups like this, we were able to bring 300 teachers together last year for our first teacher’s summit. A member of the advisory said, “I was super impressed that our vision of getting teachers to start the school year off on a positive, energizing way seemed to work!” After the summit another educator said, “I learned so much and I feel empowered to move forward this next year. Thank you so much for the N.M. Teachers Summit.” And good things are happening for our students because of this summit. Thanks to our continuing partnerships with educators, this year more than three times last year’s number will be able to participate — 1,000 educators registered in only 72 hours!

The Teacher Leader Network is another powerful resource for strengthening partnerships with our educators. Teachers in the network are making sure their colleagues know the latest news in education, and they’re empowered to seek answers. One member told us, “I am happy to be working on making N.M. a better place for kids to get an education.” These educators are making a difference, and I am so excited about what they are doing.We’re also facilitating more professional collaboration and development between our teachers themselves.

The New Mexico Dream Team is another group making great strides to help their colleagues and help students improve. The Dream Team is a group of teachers creating instructional reading supports for teachers across the state.

We’re also working to ensure that we’re listening to our teachers. We recently announced changes to the teacher evaluation system that were created with support and input from teachers across the state. The changes in teacher evaluations are a result of informed teachers bringing their voice and recommendations to the Public Education Department. Specific changes were proposed by members of TeachPlus, an organization of New Mexico educators.

New Mexico’s teachers are among our strongest assets in building a brighter future for our children in communities large and small across the state. As we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, join us in reflecting on how important our teachers are to us all – and to keep doing all we can to continue supporting our teachers as they give our kids the skills they need to reach for their dreams.

Hanna Skandera 
Secretary, New Mexico Department of Public Education

Growth Opportunities and Resources for Teachers

Growth Opportunities and Resources for Teachers

Take a look at these exciting opportunities and share with your colleagues. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Your Liaison,
Alicia Duran-505.467.9985
teacher.liaison@state.nm.us

Engineering Energy Day: April 29, 2017 in Albuquerque

Event website: http://www.nmmesa.org/event/unm-school-of-engineering-science-day-extravaganza/

Engineering Energy Day 04.29.17.PNG

4th Annual STEM Symposium: June 1-2, 2017 in Albuquerque

The Math and Science Bureau at the Public Education Department (PED) is hosting:The 4th Annual STEM Symposium: Growing as a STEM Leader June 1–2, 2017 at the Embassy Suites, Albuquerque for NM Public K–12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teachers.Featuring sessions in the following strands:

  • Improving STEM Instruction;
  • Promoting Equity and Access in STEM Learning;
  • Building Community STEM Partnerships;
  • Teacher Leadership in STEM

The Math and Science Bureau of the PED invites you to participate in the STEM Symposium. As a participating teacher, you will benefit from strategies to innovate you lessons; integrate science, math and ELA practices throughout the curriculum and inspire your students to succeed in STEM while receiving 12 hours of professional development!

Teacher Qualifications

  • Elementary teachers who teach math and science as part of their instruction.
  • Grade 7–12 teachers whose majority of course assignments are science, technology, engineering or mathematics
  • Have a valid NM teaching license and teach in a public district or charter.

Through the STEM Teacher Initiative, the PED will pay travel stipends for qualifying teachers from districts and charters farther than 50 miles from Albuquerque. The travel stipend will be provided at the conclusion of the symposium.

Please register at the following link STEM Symposium Registration. Open registration is available through May 19, 2017.

We look forward to seeing you at the 2017 NM STEM Symposium! For more information, visit the Southwest Regional Educational Cooperative website at www.swrecnm.org.

Student Behavior Workshop: June 19, 2017 in Albuquerque

Student Behavior Workshop 06.19.17.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER ONLINE

Note: This training always fills up quickly.  You’ll be placed on a wait list if your registration is received after the session fills.  We always recommend registering as soon as possible!

Can’t attend the live simulation training?  Click here to access the 90 min. online training that you can view anytime/anywhere.  This video training will provide you

with the same powerful techniques that you can use in your classroom that day!  Here’s a sample of what teachers and administrators say after the training…

Grants for Teachers Working with Refugee Students: DEADLINE FRIDAY APRIL 21

Education First is seeking applications for teacher-led projects that foster social-emotional skills in students in grades PK-12. Education First is seeking proposals that specifically support students who are new arrivals (such as refugees) or immigrants and English language learners.  After a successful inaugural year in 2016, Education First is continuing the Innovation in Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Awards for a second year as part of our work with NoVo Foundation and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. They will award up to $5,000 to individual teachers or groups of teachers to implement the project in their classrooms and schools in the 2017-18 school year. Awardees will also have the opportunity to present their work to a group of national SEL practitioners, experts and advocates at a convening in October 2017.

New this year, Education First is also looking for applications from districts and charters to support social-emotional learning in students grades PK-12. We will award up to $25,000 per year for applications selected for district-wide work.

Please forward widely to your networks locally and nationwide – Education First is hoping to fund the best practices and ideas in classrooms, schools and districts and provide support where it is needed most. The RFP and application materials can be found here. The deadline for applications is Friday, April 21 at 11:59pm PT. If you’d like to read about last year’s winners, the full list can be found here.

News & Resources from UNC’s Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute

Check out these teacher resources at http://fpg.unc.edu/news/research-and-resources-new-edition-fpg-enews.

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