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Let’s TALK conference brings together teachers for conversations about teaching and learning More than 300 Kentucky educators attended Let’s TALK: Conversations about Effective Teaching June 19-21 in Louisville. The conference, a first-of-its-kind event created by, for and about teachers, was planned jointly by KEA, the Kentucky Department of Education and the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence. Its primary focus was to help participants understand how to implement effectively the Kentucky Core Academic Standards and how to improve their teaching through the new Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (PGES). KEA’s Teaching Advocates Leading Kentucky (TALK) group, which includes 17 teacher members, created content guidelines for Let’s TALK that were designed to “help elevate the teaching profession in the Commonwealth by bringing teachers’ voices to the forefront of these important, integrated education initiatives,” KEA President Stephanie Winkler said. The group put out a call for presentations early this year and selected 27 presentations from among the proposals submitted by Kentucky elementary, middle and high school classroom teachers. (Of those, 23 were led by one or more KEA members.) Conference attendees included teachers, administrators and paraeducators. Some school districts and KEA locals brought groups to Louisville for the event. KEA Assistant Executive Director Michelle Duke, who represented KEA on the inter-agency Let’s TALK planning team, said organizers wanted “to give participants practical strategies for classroom implementation of the Kentucky Core Academic Standards and PGES; A new perspective Raymond Yaksic (standing), who teaches language arts at Westport Middle school in Jefferson County, was one of 27 KEA members who led 23 PD workshops at Let’s Talk: Conversations about Effective Teaching. The three-day conference “for, by and about teachers” was held this summer in Louisville and drew more than 300 Kentucky educators. Lafayette High School English teacher Sherri McPherson, another KEA member who presented, said “The best part about the conference is that teachers were treated as the leaders, experts, and drivers of education. Teachers and policy makers sat at the same tables and discussed issues teachers and students face every day.” teach them to use electronic tools for communicating with and about the systems; and help them attain a level of comfort with and appreciation of the new systems.” Duke added, “Let’s TALK was about helping educators develop a greater capacity for improving their teaching practice.” Principal funding for Let’s TALK came from a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The School Improvement Network also chipped in. KEA-Retired contributed $6,000 to the conference to purchase debit cards for KEA members who attended. Each member in attendance received a card worth $150, Duke said, “to help defray costs associated with attending the conference.” Teachers leading teachers Mike Ross, president of Mason County Education Association, attended Let’s TALK with seven other teacher members of MCEA. Ross said “It was one of the more useful conferences we have attended. It allowed tailored selection of workshops relevant to each teacher.” Attending as a group, he said, “allowed teachers to ‘divide and conquer’ and take advantage of more workshops.” What made the conference particularly useful, Ross added, “was that it was teachers leading teachers.” Matthew Courtney, a music educator at Madison County’s Mayfield Elementary and president of KEA-Central District, presented two sessions at Let’s TALK on CIITS, the Continuous Instructional Improvement Technology System, which has been used in Kentucky schools since August 1, 2011. Courtney said he felt “blessed” to present at the conference and that his sessions were marked by “rich dialogue with the other teachers in the room. “We discussed important issues, such as how CIITS can be used to nurture and measure student growth and how Kentucky’s new PGES system will help us to get more professional learning opportunities.” The feedback he got, Courtney said, was “entirely positive. Many of the professionals I spoke with were thrilled to have the chance to come together with other educators and to learn from their peers. The chance to hear what other teachers are doing in their classroom provided invaluable new knowledge to take back to school in August.” Finally, Courtney said he “learned as much as anyone” in his sessions. “I came away with a new perspective on my classroom and, more importantly, a large group of new colleagues and friends who I can continue to grow with as the new school year begins.” It did not disappoint Sherri McPherson teaches English at Lafayette High School in Fayette County. She and colleague Renee Boss presented a workshop on the Kentucky Core Academic Standards entitled, “I Choose C,” which she described as “focused on the opportunities that Common Core offers for collaboration and creativity.” Please see ‘Let’s TALK’ on page 6 Teacher named chair of Kentucky House of Representatives’ Education Committee Representative Derrick Graham of Frankfort was selected earlier this summer as the new chairman of the Kentucky House of Representatives Education Committee. Graham’s selection came after the resignation of Representative Carl Rollins, who resigned from the legislature in order to accept a position as leader of the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority. Graham, a social studies teacher who recently retired from Frankfort High School, is the first teacher to chair the Education Committee in many years. House Speaker Greg Stumbo acknowledged Graham’s unique perspective in a statement following the announcement of his selection. “I want to congratulate Derrick, my friend and colleague, on his appointment as the House Education Committee’s newest chairman. He has dedicated his life to education and has a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities Kentucky faces academically.” In a statement following his appointment Representative Graham said, “I look forward to hitting the ground running in working with the educational community and colleagues in the General Assembly in continuing to develop policies that help to generate and elevate student achievement and success in all schools across our great Commonwealth, from pre-school to the postsecondary level.” Stephanie Winkler, president of KEA, said, “I have worked with Chairman Graham since his first election as a state representative. We’re proud to have one of our very own KEA members serving in this capacity. I know that he will keep in mind all public school employees and students as he makes tough decisions about policy in our schools.”

KEA News, volume 50 issue 1

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