Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday exclaimed “Kentucky teachers rock” during his welcoming remarks at the Let’s TALK:Conversations about Effective Teaching conference last week. The TALK conference was organized for teachers, by teachers. One of the amazing aspects of the conference was the variety of groups that supported the conference in various ways .
The Kentucky Education Association, the Kentucky Department of Education, the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, and the Fund for Transforming Education in Kentucky sponsored the conference and all welcomed the attendees on the first day.
Maddie Fennell, the 2007 Nebraska Teacher of the Year and the chair of the National Education Association Commission on Effective Teaching and Teachers, delivered an inspiring message. Ms. Fennell focused on the need for transformation of the profession to come from within the profession. She referenced the controversial rankings of teacher preparation programs, recently released by the National Council on Teacher Quality, and how the report could help illuminate some of what we need to do to transform the education profession. Additionally, she outlined six things participants needed to do in order to help effect change. They included:
- Be active in your union — local, state, national
- Read more
- Enter into relationships with policymakers
- Build bridges across common visions
- Sit for your National Board
- TALK with your colleagues
Attendees got a jump start on her last point as they heard a panel respond to a variety of questions regarding the Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (PGES) from three teachers and one principal who were part of the PGES pilot. I was honored to moderate the panel and asked questions regarding the student survey, student growth, peer observation, and advice the pilot participants had for those of us who had not yet participated in PGES.
The conversations continued on a more personal level as Dan Cruce, from the Hope Street Group, led a feedback session. The session began with poll questions ranging from where teachers obtain their information to teacher feedback opportunities. Participants then discussed questions related to the poll topics in small groups. During the whole-group sharing time it became clear that the Kentucky teachers present were ready to be teacher leaders and to transform education.
Once again I left with the feeling of being fortunate to teach in Kentucky. Truly great things are happening and will continue to happen within the state and I hope YOU will be part of continuously improving the educational experiences of our students not only within your classroom, but throughout Kentucky.
Allison Hunt, an AP Human Geography teacher at Manual High School in Jefferson County, was selected as the 2013 Kentucky High School Teacher of the Year on Oct. 17, 2012. She and Heidi Givens, the Kentucky Elementary School Teacher of the Year, are alternating monthly column-writing duties throughout their reigns. Their columns run the last Thursday of each month.