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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 4, 2016

Update from Teacher of the Year Scott Slechta

By Scott Slechta | Nov 10, 2016

SEPTEMBER

Though school has started in August, and I am on sabbatical leave from the classroom, I am kept busy with statewide visits and kept active with various state committees and more.

I worked at the Iowa State Education Association office in revising and updating an academy course on Ethics. It will soon be rolled out for instruction. It is aligned to the Iowa Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics. Later in the month I trained national board teachers in the academy’s new support courses for the four components for teachers pursuing national board certification.

I was introduced at a Collaboration for Kids meeting and met the various members. They include administrators from across the state and Area Education Agencies. Its purpose is for education development and creation of cohesion in the core courses.

My consultant, Isbelia Arzola, and I traveled to Ashford University at Clinton. I presented a keynote and offered a workshop for their student teachers.

To gain understanding for my platform on the importance of the acceptance of diversity and anti- bullying and anti-harassment, I attended a workshop for Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports. FCSD has that program in place for the elementary and middle school. It also has programs available for high schools to use as a continuation of that learning.

I met with the teacher induction advisory to develop an assessment tool for revision of schools’ mentoring programs. I will continue this work until its completion and implementation in January.

At the end of the month, my nationwide & territorial cohort group of all Teachers of the Year met in Princeton, NJ for our Next Steps conference. We all reflected on our accomplishments during our time since January 2016 and established goals for our continued work. We also networked with the Education Teaching Service directors.

 

OCTOBER

I continued committee work on the Teacher Leadership Compensation committee. Now in its third year, every school in Iowa is now participating in this program. Its basic concept: Teacher leaders leading teachers. A process for review is now underway.

Fairfield Chamber of Commerce’s Director Detra Dettman and Administrator Lindsey Waugh hosted their Leadership Training for professionals. This month’s focus was Fairfield’s education opportunities. They toured the preschool, MSAE and MUM, and FHS. They learned about the IHCC Academy and the home school program, too.

I led them through a series of activities to identify a quality, accomplished, and effective teacher and its connection to them as business leaders. We all met in the FHS 21st Century room to practice skills of communication and collaboration, critical and creative thinking.

At the Iowa Council of Teachers of English, I addressed the group about their role in teaching today and its importance to our students’ future. I also offered a break–out session about a color - coding technique that I use with my students as part of the writing process.

Sue McCracken, former FCSD elementary principal, is now a student teacher supervisor at the University of Iowa. By her invitation, I worked with a group of education majors and student teachers addressing the importance of identifying the “Why?,” the “What?,” and the “How?” of teaching. We worked through many activities of understanding the theory and implementing the application.

I worked with an Iowa State Education Association 3-person workforce to complete training materials for support courses for national board certification. We have served on a national committee, and we are continuing the work at the statewide level for candidates.

I continued work with the Collaboration for Kids committee. They are developing a plan to promote literacy for children. Its focus will now extend to promote math. The committee chair also presented a calendar for future goals.

Dr. Roark Horn, president of the School Administrators of Iowa, invited me to attend their conference at the FFA Enrichment Center at Des Moines Area Community College. In attendance were superintendents and their beginning teachers. I talked about the importance to attract, prepare, induct, and retain teachers in our schools across the state and across the nation.

At the Iowa High School Speech Association’s state conference, I presented a workshop on the importance of arts in the school and its integration into all classes for enrichment and enhancement of learning.

I gained more knowledge of the new Every Student Succeeds Act. This is the replacement for the No Child Left Behind Act. It allows for more state and local control and development of more specific and applicable plans. It also allows for a more rounded curriculum which not only includes the core subjects but also the arts, languages, and more. I serve as the teachers’ voice on the state committee for its development. The final state program plans to be completed by this spring for its implementation next year.

I am on a program planning committee for the National State Teachers of the Year for development of its summer leadership program in Washington D. C. We have met via phone conference.

I addressed the Iowa Association of Colleges of Teacher Education as a guest of Dr. Susan Lagos – Lavenz. I spoke with over 150 representatives from over 30 colleges. I offered commentary based on my experiences at the district’s Teacher Induction Program facilitator. In various cases, I offered suggestions for cohesion among all the colleges as well as suggestions for improvement in their attraction, preparation, induction, and retention of teachers.

The 2017 Iowa Teacher of the Year was announced on Friday, Oct. 28: Shelly Vroegh, fitth grade teacher, who works at Norwalk. She has experience in special education and specializes as a classroom teacher with strengths in reading and math. She expressed her thanks and appreciation in her remarks.

The ceremony included Norwalk’s Superintendent Duane Magee and Iowa’s Director of Education Ryan Wise. The honor was awarded by Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds. At the conclusion of the ceremony, Shelly had the entire school and the guests celebrate in the school’s traditional celebration dance.

Shelly will begin her duties as Iowa’s 2017 Teacher of the Year in January while I continue my duties until June. We both have exciting adventures. I hope that Shelly will find joy in this journey!

As the month concluded I traveled to Sioux City. I spoke to the education majors and students teachers at Morningside College in a special program. The students received pins and certificates in their role. I offered remarks about my journey as a teacher and as Teacher of the Year, but I emphasized their journey in their teaching career.

On Halloween, I worked with over 350 children in the Hunt elementary school. The school is focused on integration of the arts into the curriculum. In the afternoon, I offered professional development to the staff about additional intergration strategies, techniques, and methods.

I am looking forward to additional adventures and experiences in the November and December. I do miss my students and classroom, but I do enjoy the new experiences across the state and across the nation.

 

– Scott Slechta, 2016 Iowa Teacher of the Year, writes this column to summarize previous months, to preview the upcoming month, or to update readers to educational issues and concerns that he faces and that the state and nation face. Slechta, a 35-year career teacher, taught English Language Arts classes at Fairfield High School in Fairfield, where he was also the drama director. He and his wife, Tricia, have four children.

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