First Posted: 7/12/2009
Have you ever wondered where in the world teachers are during the summer? When I was in school, I held my teachers in such high regard, I thought they had no other responsibilities than to teach me! I had no idea of all the requirements of teachers and never thought about what they do during the summer.
As I became a teacher myself, I learned quickly that even though I was compensated for teaching ten months of the year, I still had responsibilities for learning research-based strategies to meet the individual needs of my students. Because I was also a coach and was routinely tired after teaching all day, learning and gaining renewal credits throughout the summer months was a better option for me than after school. As soon as the school year ended, off to workshops and trainings I would go. This is still the case this summer with over 600 teachers who teach in the Surry County School System.
Requirements for North Carolina teachers are to acquire 150 contact hours of training in each five-year license renewal cycle. For your comparison, keep in mind that a college semester course is approximately 48 contact hours. Thirty of these hours must be in the teachers academic content area and for elementary and middle grades teachers, an additional thirty hours are required in reading content, no matter what they teach.
To accomplish these requirements, each teacher maintains a Professional Development Plan and discusses their ongoing results and artifacts with administrators as part of their annual evaluation.
With these requirements in mind, the school district overviews needs of teachers based on School Improvement Plans, individual professional development plans, and ongoing comprehensive needs assessments in multiple areas. Now let’s get back to the original question. Where in the world are our teachers this summer?
In June alone, trainings were conducted for the following:
First Steps, an early reading intervention program,
Positive Behavior Support, a positive behavioral intervention program,
Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP), Instructional strategies for at risk students
Senior Graduation Projects, a local requirement for graduation,
Future Ready, a required high school course that includes financial literacy and character education components,
Curriculum Map Revisions, pacing guides for teachers based on revised curriculum
Leadership Updates for principals and central office staff,
Board of Education Updates, and
Advanced Academic Seminar for Governors School
These June trainings included over 300 teachers and administrators from the Surry County School System. July and August trainings will include:
Connected Math, a math program for gifted math students
New Teacher Orientation,
Rosetta Stone Second Language for middle grades
Alert Now, a telephone communication system, and
World Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA), the assessment system for Limited English Proficient students.
These trainings will include an additional 150 teachers.
Perhaps the most exciting opportunity for teachers is during the first week of August. All of Surry County’s teachers are invited to the district’s first annual Instructional Technology Conference, Born to be Wired. Teaching 21st Century learners requires us all to be 21st Century educators. The conference, planned for almost 800 educators, will encompass concurrent sessions based on levels of readiness that will help teachers learn new technology and how to use it for instructional purposes. Business partnerships are providing great door prizes and we are looking forward to a great week of learning. This opportunity will afford teachers to learn from their colleagues such applications as PhotoStory, Animoto, Movie Maker, Skype, and podcasting, just to name a few of the sessions available. WOW! What an opportunity to learn new 21st Century technology applications and gain renewal credit at no cost, close to home, and from your colleagues.
Some teachers are also traveling to training in other locations. One high school teacher attended a science institute in Belize, while six other high school teachers attended a Governor’s School seminar at Salem College. Groups of teachers are also attending state supported trainings such as Teachers Academy.
Where in the world are teachers this summer? They are learning new strategies to best meet the individual needs of students. They are gathering information on new programs and requirements. They are life long learners retooling and refocusing on becoming the best educators possible for the benefit of students in the Surry County School District. Hats off to each of them for caring enough to learn the best ways to help their students!
Dr. Ashley Hinson is superintendent of Surry County Schools.