Making Progress One Step at a Time
Barbara A. Sposet, Ph.D., OFLA Teacher Education & Licensure Committee Chair
Baldwin Wallace University
As we conclude national Teacher Appreciation Week, there are several local and national events of note that have taken place over the first half of 2018 regarding the profession of teaching.
Avoiding a state-wide walkout of teachers, Arizona Gov. Ducy announced a plan in late April to raise teachers’ pay over a three-year period a total of 20% and called for restoring funding to schools. Earlier during the same month teachers in Kentucky and Oklahoma successfully took to the pavement in their respective state capitols and, after a strike of several days, were also succesful in getting a pay raise, albeit much lower than their Arizona peers. (www.cnn.com).
Ohio’s Senate Bill has gone through several committee readings. As reported in the January issue of the Cardinal, one feature of the bill was the proposal to prohibit requiring an applicant to hold a postsecondary degree in any specified subject area. (www.legislature.ohio.gov). That requirement has since been removed. Regarding the state-wide OTES assessment of teacher performance, two significant changes have been offered since the bill’s first reading. One is to remove the use of shared attribution in calculating teacher evaluation ratings as “it does not accurately measure individual teacher performance or student growth for a cohort of students that the educator does not teach.” (Ohio Educator Standards Board Recommendations for Revising OTES, January, 2017). A second revision is to offer an alternate framework in which student growth would be weighted at 35% of the final summative rating (instead of the current 50%). Teachers would be allowed to submit one or any combination of alternative assessments to represent the 15% difference including: student portfolios, student surveys, peer reviews and/or self-evaluations.
These ‘baby steps’ have addressed not only the concerns I put forth as an explanation for our current teacher shortage in Ohio but those expressed by several OFLA members who sent me their commentaries as well.
As an OFLA board member we are asked to set goals for the upcoming academic year. Mine for 2017-18 was to present at the OFLA spring conference on the topic of the teacher shortage in foreign languages which I did to a very limited audience. On the other hand I was able to experience the ‘joy of teaching’ by some of the 600 conference attendees who, despite some concerns, loved to teach a foreign language and were eager to hear from their peers on new strategies and activities to increase student engagement in the world language classroom.
At my OFLA presentation, I announced a change of heart on my part. Instead of being drawn to the negativity of the situation, I instead searched for the ‘positives’ of teaching. I presented them as ‘Perk-Me-Ups for Teachers’ Souls. I offer several excerpts that demonstrate why teaching continues to be a meaningful and rewarding career.
“I chose education as a career because I believe that education is perhaps the most important function performed in our culture, or for that matter, any culture. I believe that teachers individually and collectively can not only change the world, but improve it, and in the process find personal and professional renewal. “ (Dr. Bob Kizlik, ADPRIMA.COM)
“For many people, their work is a means to an end. They work for a paycheck in order to live their lives. But those called to teach have a true vocation. To those with whom you interact most during your day of teaching – the students – you are not an employee but a friend, a mentor and a guide to the world. A teacher makes a difference in the world by enabling each of his or her students to fully maximize their talents, imagination, skills and character.” (UNC-Best)
“I never expected to feel good every day about what students learn from me… and what I learn from them!” (JM, Columbus Spanish Immersion Academy)