Centered: The Arizona K12 Center’s Executive Director, Dr. Kathy Wiebke, offers her education insights in this monthly column.
It is hard to believe we are into a new year, let alone one that is 19 years into the millennium. I feel the older I get, the faster time goes by.
As I reflect on 2018, it wasn’t a stellar year. Seventeen people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and 10 were killed at Santa Fe High School. We have families separated at the border and, at the time I am writing this, a government that is shut down.
But at the same time, these very things amplified the voices and actions of citizens throughout our country. We have a free press that is more vigilant than ever and ordinary citizens standing up against hatred and bigotry. In 2018, we had a record number of people voting in the midterms. People used their voices to bring a new level of activism that inspired me and countless others.
For many, a new year brings reflection and a sense of hope. From everything I’ve learned at the Arizona K12 Center in 2018, these ten lessons inspire me to strive for a better 2019 for teachers across Arizona.
1. Social media with a purpose.
Thanks to our amazing team, we have a strong social media presence. Our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts are incredibly active. If you haven’t engaged with us in those spaces, please do. It is a great place to connect to other educators.
In 2019, I resolve to improve our presence on LinkedIn, the social networking platform for professionals. As educators, we should be active in that space alongside others who use it to advance their careers and practices.
2. Organization, organization, organization.
It wouldn’t be a new year if I didn’t have a goal around organization. I commit to making 2019 the year about the Agendio for me. By the time you read this, I vow to have it in full use.
3. Reading lists, renewed.
In 2018, I went to my first book club sponsored by the Scottsdale Public Library. The focus of this group experience was Educated by Tara Westover. I was glad I did it—the book club allowed me to spend time with others discussing this important work.
In 2019, I am going to launch the Arizona K12 Center’s Executive Director’s Book Club. I am thinking it will be around the state, with one in Tucson, Flagstaff, Tucson, and perhaps Lake Havasu. There might even be a different book for each location.
4. Reinventing #RedforEd.
I can’t think of 2018 without remembering the sea of red walking toward the Arizona State Capitol. Last year, I made new connections with people who shared my commitment to public education and values. I want to do more of the same in 2019 by being deliberate at each of our events to engage with our guests.
I want to learn more about you—your challenges, your triumphs, and your hopes. Most importantly, I want to figure out how the Arizona K12 Center can help you move your practice forward and achieve your professional goals in 2019.
5. New takes on teacher retention.
Arizona has a growing teacher retention problem. We can’t do anything about the dismal salaries many of our teachers are paid, but we can do something to help support the newest members of our profession through the Arizona Master Teacher Program. In January, we will meet with various stakeholders to learn more about the needs of individual districts and how we might adjust the Program to better meet those needs.
We hope that in 2019, you resolve to support your school and district’s beginning teachers by re-engaging with us to train and support those who work with the newest members of the profession.
6. Labors of love (and listening).
In 2018, the Arizona K12 Center had over 10,000 downloads of its podcast, 3Ps in a Pod. I have been overwhelmed at the interest it has generated. Truly, it has been a labor of love.
In 2019, I want to find a way to expand our audience. We will be launching a new website where our podcast will play a prominent role, thereby allowing for easier access. We also want to hear from you—is there someone out there you think we need to interview? Is there a practice or policy you want to learn more about? What are your passions?
7. Partnerships worth building.
Last year, I was asked to participate in a panel for the Tucson Values Teachers documentary, Teaching in Arizona. This experience reminded me of the power of partnerships. The challenges facing Arizona’s schools take the collective efforts of everyone working together.
This year, I am going to re-commit our organization to these relationships, and more specifically, to the work of Expect More Arizona, which is a dynamic education advocacy group. Visit their website to see how you can be part of the solution.
8. Leaders who uplift others.
As I reflect on the past couple of years, I am so proud of the work of our Arizona TeacherSolutions Team. These are incredibly talented individuals who have been unpacking equity, in order to help lead our annual Teacher Leadership Institute, which is scheduled for June 18-20, 2019 in Tucson.
I am ecstatic about this year’s event because the amazing Cornelius Minor from Columbia’s Teachers College will be our main facilitator. This three-day institute will be nothing short of fantastic! While you are at it, consider applying to be a member of the TeacherSolutions Team in 2020.
9. Certifications that make a difference.
The numbers of National Board Certified Teachers in Arizona grew in 2018. We are seeing groups of teachers achieve together in schools throughout the state. We especially love our burgeoning, rural cohorts in Safford and Lake Havasu. One of the things I have always treasured about National Board Certification is no matter where you teach, you can pursue Board-certification.
In 2019, I want to see how we can engage our friends at the Arizona Department of Education to help us promote the pursuit and celebrate those who make the journey. Consider making 2019 the year you sign up for a National Board Pre-candidacy class, which will help guide you on the path toward National Board Certification.
10. Communities that connect, unite, and advance.
In 2018, I had the chance to meet so many teachers. Whenever I talk to a teacher or visit a campus, I am reminded that Arizona is filled with countless outstanding teachers and schools. Contrary to what the perception might be, excellence can be found throughout our state. I am constantly amazed at the commitment and talent of Arizona’s incredibly creative educators who are committed to their practice and students.
I want to fortify the community of practitioners in a variety of ways, and I want others to understand what makes Arizona’s teachers so special. In 2019, be on the lookout for a new publication that does just that. I’m not sure what I am going to call it, but I have 365 days to figure it out.
There you have it. What are your goals for 2019? How can the Arizona K12 Center help you achieve yours?
In the meantime, let’s see how I can make mine happen. Here I am, 2019, ready to take you on and make a difference.