Along with some awesome educators from across the state, Erin and I had the opportunity to attend the Teacher Leader Conference in New Orleans this past week. Several of you in Louisiana may have been there with us! The conference included a variety of topics, with something for everyone regardless of their content area or grade level. I attended several sessions, which provided great information that will help me in my job this year.
When Erin and I go to conferences, we love to keep notes and share the most valuable information with others. After spending time at this conference, I think the most interesting take-away was learning how educational reform is beginning to pay off in Louisiana’s education system.
Of course, we want to acknowledge that reform in Louisiana certainly has not been easy. Many of you who have been teaching the last 10 years know how utterly frustrating it has been to continually change with the whims of politics. In fact, many of you may have experienced an all-time low in morale in your schools. But we also wanted to acknowledge those of you who stuck it out instead of quitting under pressure. And it has definitely paid off!
You may or may not agree with the Superintendent or the politics surrounding education, but we can all admit that it was because of the teachers’ efforts that our state is moving in the right direction.
This came to light at the opening ceremony. The session began with a precious group of children performing a few songs for the large crowd of teachers attending the conference. The students from Encore Academy played ukuleles and sang. It was impressive! Next, we heard an inspiring message from the reigning Teacher of the Year. And finally, John White, our State Superintendent spoke.
Now, we have to be honest. We’ve both attended the Teacher Leader conference every year. And we remember the year that the air was very tense during Superintendent White’s speech. This year everyone was breathing a bit easier.
However, our sweat and tears over the last several years haven’t been unnoticed. During John White's Keynote Address at the 2016 Teacher Leader Summit, he said:
It is no secret that you have achieved what you have achieved with our students amidst a period of some turbulence in public education. Our profession has been politicized, and the tools of our craft – curriculum, standards, assessment – have on occasion been used as the fodder for campaigns and agendas that have little to do with children.
I think it’s finally time to celebrate what we’ve accomplished and look forward to the future. Here are some statistics that are worth celebrating:
For more information on Louisiana's high school performance, click here.
Obviously, there is still much work to be done! However, I believe we are on a positive trajectory in the State of Louisiana and am hopeful that this is only the beginning of more progress to come!
The path leading to reform in Louisiana has been troubled and difficult. But Louisiana teachers, hold your head up high and be proud of the differences you are making in the lives of our most precious commodity... our children!
Susan Dewees, Ed.D. is an administrator at a large middle school. She also served as a Turnaround Team Coordinator for a public school district in Louisiana. She has 20 years of experience in public school education, and special education is one of her specialties.
Erin Stokes, Ed.D. is a Title I Instructional Coordinator for a public school district in Louisiana. She has over 10 years of experience as a teacher and instructional coach. She is also an adjuct professor at Louisiana College. She loves students, teachers, and most of all--learning.
Becky Pippen, Ed.D. is currently serving as principal of a large middle school in Louisiana. She has over 20 years experience in educational leadership. She is passionate about improving the teacher workforce so that all students have the quality of instruction they deserve.