MESSAGES 2013 :: AUGUST 22, 2013

AUGUST 22, 2013 - Teachers' Biweekly Messages

Thank you for being a part of North Carolina's public school teaching corps. As we begin the 2013-14 school year, our state faces a number of challenges, not the least of which is continuing to improve the education that we provide to students. From the e-mails, calls and Facebook messages that many of you have sent to me, I know that you are frustrated and also eager to do the best job that you can do on behalf of your students. As we move forward in this school year, we will continue to seek ways to support you more and to advocate for better working conditions and compensation. While the 2013 legislative session is over, there is always next year's session and we cannot give up on our goal of improving teacher pay and support. I know that all across this state are many talented teachers who give their best work and efforts to students daily. Thank you for elevating your profession.

June Atkinson

In this Biweekly Teachers' Message:

  1. Teachers' Biweeklyl Message Helps Keep Teachers in the Know
  2. State Board of Education Meeting Highlights
  3. Master's Degree Pay Update
  4. NC Teacher of the Year Welcome Back Message
  5. Webinar Scheduled to Receive Feedback on Common Exams/Roster Verification
  6. Resources for Differentiation, Global Awareness and Critical Thinking
  7. LEARN NC's Fall PD Schedule Online
  8. The Power of Words Contest Targets High School Students
  9. American History Teacher Award

Teachers' Biweekly Message Helps Keep Teachers in the Know

If this is the first time you've received an e-mail newsletter from the State Superintendent - welcome! If this is old hat - welcome back! Every August, we retrieve teacher e-mail addresses from our information management system to refresh our teachers' e-mail list so that we can communicate directly with teachers on issues of importance to you and the teaching profession. You can expect to receive this message on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month throughout the school year. You also will receive separate messages concerning North Carolina's READY and Race to the Top initiatives. If you ever have any questions regarding the items included in these messages (that don't already contain contact information), please reply to this e-mail and we will ensure that you receive a timely response. Also, please don't hesitate to let us know if you have any issues you would like addressed in future messages. We hope you will find this communication beneficial.

State Board of Education Meeting Highlights

At this month's State Board of Education meeting, members approved the 2012-13 Cohort Graduation Rate report, which noted another record high graduation rate of 82.5 percent; the proposed temporary waiver of the paid employment graduation requirement for the Future-Ready Occupational Course of Study; 21st Century Community Learning Center grants with modifications; and changes to policy delineating the components of the READY Accountability model to include Annual Measurable Objectives. Board members also heard a presentation from the Governor's Education Advisor Eric Guckian regarding the Governor's position on teacher salary issues and student assessments. A summary of all Board action items is available online at http://stateboard.ncpublicschools.gov/highlights/2013.

Master's Degree Pay Update

At the State Board's August meeting, State Superintendent June Atkinson informed Board members that she bring to them a recommendation for approval at their September meeting concerning Master's Degree Pay. The recommendation would temporarily change the department's existing policy to move the April 1 cut-off date for advanced degree certification to a later date to allow those who are currently pursing their master's degree to receive credit if they finish at the end of the 2013-14 academic year. The General Assembly eliminated master's degree pay for educators that had not received the pay differential prior to the 2014-15 school year. We will update you once the State Board takes action.

NC Teacher of the Year Welcome Back Message

As the school bells start to digitally ring in a new school year across North Carolina, I find myself struggling with mixed emotions about the year ahead. I am eager for the upcoming year that is full of speaking engagements, school visits and exciting opportunities (like meeting the President and going to Space Camp!), but I also find myself occasionally saddened and a little jealous as I hear about the hustle and bustle of the start of the school year for teachers across the state.

As the North Carolina Teacher of the Year, I am out of the classroom for the next year. Perhaps more times than I should admit, I catch myself gazing longingly at pens, pencils, paper, markers, highlighters, staples and other goodies that I would normally be purchasing at this time of the year. I slightly envy Facebook posts of coworkers that show the finished projects they've completed in their own classrooms - a floral duct tape covered podium, a new seating arrangement, or a shiny Word Wall just waiting to have essential vocabulary words stapled to it. I have even scheduled a day to go to Grimsley High School and help my coworkers put the final touches on their classrooms that will warmly greet high school students on August 26.

When I think about the way I feel right now, I think I can best describe my emotions by saying that I feel like a bit of a contradiction. I can best explain this contradiction through my recent experience traveling abroad in Spain for much of August. While in Spain for the wedding of a dear Spanish friend, I was frequently introduced in the following way (the introductions occurred in Spanish so the following is a very loose translation): “This is Karyn. She doesn't speak Spanish very well, but she understands most of what you say. The airline lost her luggage and she is a vegetarian. No, she does not eat fish, not even dolphin or tuna. Pobrecita.”

While the above introduction might seem rather unrelated to my new school year, it is surprisingly apt. You see, I feel like I currently exist in a world of contradictions. I am one thing, a teacher, but I am also another, a representative. Much like the way most Spaniards could not understand my choice to be a vegetarian, I am now in an in-between position where it is sometimes hard to describe to others exactly what I will be doing for the next year. Like my lost luggage (still lost after more than seven days), my past seven years as a teacher are so much a part of who I am that even though I am not presently in a traditional teaching position, those seven years are the personal belongings that define me. Yet, unlike the ending of most of my introductions in Spain, “Pobrecita,” I do not feel like I am “unfortunate.” Instead, I feel delighted to have the opportunity to expand my classroom beyond the four walls that are lined with posters of great authors and works of literature to the unlimited bounds of education in North Carolina. This year will be incredibly different, but it will also be one of tremendous possibilities and opportunities. It is a time when educators need a representative voice, and I hope to serve as that representative. While I may not be decorating the four walls of my classroom at Grimsley High School this week, I am placing the finishing touches on speeches, researching changes to educational policy in our state, and planning and preparing for my upcoming school year, one in which I hope to learn and share just as much as I will teach.

I feel like my introduction upon my return from Spain to the United States as the new school year begins should be the following: “This is Karyn Dickerson. She loves education and wants to talk about it with others. She is a teacher but she is not teaching in the classroom this year. No, that does not mean she is not a teacher, it just means her classroom got a lot bigger. Yes, she is also a student. And a representative. Afortunada.”

If you want to read more about my journey this year, you can follow me on Facebook, http://goo.gl/4wsNRe; Twitter, https://twitter.com/kdickersonnctoy; my website, www.karyndickerson.com; and/or my blog, http://karyndickersontoy.blogspot.com.

Webinar Scheduled to Receive Feedback on Common Exams/Roster Verification

The NCDPI and NC Association of Educators will host a webinar on Tuesday, Sept. 17, from 4-5:30 p.m. to receive feedback on the 2012-13 administration of the Common Exams and the Spring 2013 roster verification process. Teachers may register to participate at http://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/251489857. Once you register, you will receive an e-mail message with participation directions. If you have any questions in the interim, please e-mail them to educatoreffectiveness@dpi.nc.gov.

Resources for Differentiation, Global Awareness and Critical Thinking

Skills students will need for college and career readiness include global awareness and critical thinking - with and without technological tools. How widely are these embedded within instructional delivery and learning? How often are teachers using data to differentiate? Visit http://bit.ly/si2013p21 for resources to assist teachers with using the framework for 21st century skills to differentiate instruction and meet the needs of all learners. For more information, please contact Lynne Johnson at lynne.johnson@dpi.nc.gov or Jessica Garner at Jessica.garner@dpi.nc.gov.

LEARN NC's Fall PD Schedule Online

LEARN NC's fall schedule of online professional development courses is available online at www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/7698. Whether educators are interested in picking up credit hours in cultural awareness, co-teaching, literacy, ESL, or American history, there is something for everyone. In addition, LEARN NC is offering multiple sections in Moodle Training and Teaching Online Courses. LEARN NC's online courses, which are aligned to North Carolina's Professional Teaching Standards, eliminate travel expenses and substitute-teacher costs normally associated with staff development. Online professional development allows teachers to participate at a time and place most convenient to them, and collaborate with colleagues via a variety of easy-to-use electronic forums.

The Power of Words Contest Targets High School Students

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library invites high school students to share their thoughts in only 272 words - no more, no less - about either Abraham Lincoln or Gettysburg/Gettysburg Address. Essays will be judged on creativity, originality, use of language, and appropriateness to theme. Three winning students will receive $2,500 scholarships. An additional $2,500 scholarship will be awarded to the school with the highest number of participants. Students' essays must be submitted via e-mail to 272words@alplm.org from Sept. 1-Oct. 1. Full contest details are attached.

American History Teacher Award

The Tom and Betty Lawrence American History Teacher Award, sponsored by the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, recognizes an outstanding history teacher whose instruction on the Revolutionary War Era from 1750-1800 demonstrates educational efforts in the classroom that exceed and excel above current accepted curriculum requirements. The award winner will choose a trip to one of four seminars valued at $1,400. Award information and application are attached. All applications must be submitted by Dec. 31 to be considered.