Big Changes Welcome Attendees in 2012
In what has become an annual ritual, thousands of Utah educators gathered for workshops and training at the 2012 UEA Convention & Education Exposition. What they found when they arrived was something new…new events, an expanded exhibit hall, fun, relaxation, and more kids and parents than ever before.
“Our goal for the UEA Convention this year was to create a place where teachers not only hone their skills, but where they could also relax, have fun and celebrate public education with students, parents and the whole community,” said Mike Kelley, UEA communications director and co-coordinator for this year’s Convention.
Some highlights of the 2012 Convention included:
- An extensive selection of professional development opportunities for educators;
- Addresses by NEA Vice President Lily Eskelsen, Governor Gary Herbert, and education authors Harry and Rosemary Wong
- A meet-the-candidates event to help attendees understand where candidates stood on education issues
- A movie screening and panel discussion about teacher-led education reform; and
- Free tickets available through public school teachers
- An expanded exhibit hall with
- About 180 vendors showcasing products and services for educators;
- Two stage areas with hourly education-related workshops and entertainment;
- An interactive learning area with hands-on learning experiences for kids;
- A Pampering Station featuring massages, haircuts and manicures; and
- The Utah Jazz Bear tipping off a book giveaway where participants could shoot a hoop and win a free book.
Two long-time Utah educators and former Utah Teachers of the Year kicked off the Convention. UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh was joined by former UEA President and current NEA Vice President Lily Eskelsen as they shared their energy and passion for the teaching profession.
Gallagher-Fishbaugh began by sharing her vision of what the teaching profession would look like without the UEA. She began by pointing out a few of the ways the UEA assisted her and other teachers during her 32-year teaching career.
“(In the 80s) our Utah Governor told teachers to, ‘take an aspirin and go home to bed’ as a result of our concerns over no legislative increase in (public school funding),” she said. “The UEA, with the blessing of Superintendents, staged a one-day rally…The result was an increase in (funding), allowing me to buy new textbooks. Would my students have had those textbooks if the UEA did not exist? I do not think so.”
The beginning of the new millennium “brought forth a slew of federal mandates, pro-voucher legislation, anti-association, anti-teacher, anti-public education legislation, and a general disregard for the voice of the educator,” she said. “I was involved in my classroom with my students. However, I knew that my UEA lobby team was fighting for my pupils, my classroom and my profession.”
“The UEA is the only advocate for teachers and often times the only advocate for public education. I know this from personal experience on Capitol Hill during the past two legislative sessions. There is no one to give a voice to the teachers except the UEA.
“Because UEA has worked to build our relationships with policymakers, the governor, school boards, superintendents, parents, administrators and coalitions, the conversation is changing. Folks want to engage in positive conversations and solution-oriented discussions. They are not interested in the blame game and anti-teacher and anti-association rhetoric. UEA is leading the way and giving voice to the teachers. We are changing the dynamics. We are changing perceptions.”
(View Sharon’s complete Opening Session comments)
Eskelsen told attendees that teachers “have survived every bad idea that politicians can throw at us.” She added, “We need to put politics behind us and students in front.”
Teachers have been successful in defeating these bad ideas because they “went on the air and told people the truth. And because (the public) trusted (teachers), they believed us.” She shared research showing that 75 percent of Americans trust public school teachers. No other profession ranked so high, she said.
Teachers have found themselves fighting bad ideas proposed by those not in the classroom, she said. Teachers must let their voice be heard in discussions about what is best for students, because teachers are the professionals in the position to make those decisions.
“Stepping forward, especially in these times, puts you in the crosshairs like never before,” said Eskelsen. “Some people don’t like people who step up.” But it is the only real way to make a difference.
“We don’t make a lot of money, but we make a difference. We teach other people’s children,” she said.
Governor Gary R. Herbert and Prosperity 2020 Chair Mark Bouchard addressed educator concerns and the political process at the Hot Topics and Hot Dogs event. Following remarks, candidates from throughout the state were available to meet during an informal hot dog lunch.
Bouchard shared the goal of Prosperity 2020, a business-led education initiative, to have two-thirds of Utahns holding college degrees or skilled trade certificates by the year 2020. “Sixty-six percent (of Utahn’s holding post-secondary degrees or certificates) is a plan. Plans come and go. They are constantly evolving, changing and maturing. But the role of teachers is critical. What never becomes obsolete is the role of a teacher in the life of a student,” he said.
The state’s long-term mission is to determine how to provide educators with the tools they need to be successful in a changing world, noted Bouchard. “We must provide continued opportunity to learn and grow for teachers. We must bring back the dignity of the profession.
“Without educators, without your good work and commitment, we will never have the success that we want as a state, economically,” he said. “The most important investment we can make as a state is in our educators.”
“I believe you as teachers should be elevated and revered,” said Governor Herbert as he addressed Convention attendees. He stressed that reaching the goals proposed by Prosperity 2020 is going to take the commitment of educators and all of us
“There has been a lot of talk about accountability for teachers, but it’s time to make sure students and parents are held accountable, too,” said Herbert to applause from teachers. “The days of dropping your kids off at the front door on the first day of Kindergarten and picking them up at the end of high school and saying ‘how was it?’ are over.”
Herbert presented what he called his “PACE” education initiative:
- P = Prepare young learners to be college and career ready
- A = Access for all students to post-secondary education opportunities
- C = Completed certificates and degrees by 66 percent of all students
- E = Economic success, with jobs available that are aligned with the skills of available workers.
The Governor then outlined his education priorities. “First, we will continue to fund growth in education, about $65 million,” he said. “Second, I believe in early education and will seek ways to expand early education programs.” Herbert said funding for technology and implementing a statewide ACT testing program were also priorities.
Day-Two Keynote Address:
Follow-up Handout Provided by Harry and Rosemary Wong (pdf)
Friday’s opening session featured educators Harry and Rosemary Wong, authors of the best-selling First Days of School. They explained how to become a more effective teacher and ensure student success by developing a classroom that is structured, organized and consistent in how it is run.
“The key becoming a very effective teacher…is to beg, borrow and steal for the rest of your life,” Harry said as he began the presentation. He noted that much of the material they were presenting was taken from other teachers who shared their resources and successes.
“Effective teachers are extremely good classroom managers,” said Harry. “And classroom management has nothing to do with discipline…Classroom management has to do with practices and procedures—things that you do. That is what practice and procedure means—things that kids do.”
“Effective schools that produce results have a culture of consistency,” he explained. “Research says that the very first thing you must do, the very first day, the very first week of school is you must establish a class that is consistent…Consistent means dependable, reliable, predicable. Practices and procedures are used to manage the classroom so you can teach and instruct and kids can learn.”
Rosemary explained that effective teachers also establish consistency in the classroom by using an agenda. “An agenda is an organization for what is going to happen in the classroom.” The agenda, she says, has three parts: it has a schedule telling the kids what is going to happen that day, it has an opening activity to help the students to come into the classroom and get to work, and it has an objective to tell the kids their purpose for coming to school that day.
“The number one problem in school is not discipline, it is the lack of procedures and routines,” said Rosemary. “Why do students fail? Because they don’t know what to do. If you don’t have a plan, we think you’re planning to fail.”
Another characteristic of an effective teacher, Harry explained, is lesson mastery. “Good teachers don’t cover, they uncover. Tell the kids up front what you want them to learn…give (them) a map.
“When both students and teachers are moving toward the same goal, that’s when you get learning,” he said. “Kids cannot make progress unless you have a rubric for them to measure by.”
“The greatest thing about teaching, after years of teaching, is running into a former student who comes up to you and says ‘I am what I am today because of you,’” concluded Harry.
Professional Development Workshops:
Professional development opportunities included 10 breakout training sessions on Thursday morning, nine on Friday morning and sessions throughout both afternoons in conjunction with the Exhibit Hall. Thursday’s professional development focused on veteran teachers while Friday’s focus was on new educators, including the New Educators’ Workshop. (See the complete workshop descriptions. To request re-licensure points, complete the License Renewal Credit Form).
The all-new Exhibit Hall area featured about 180 vendor booths, two stage areas with hourly education-related entertainment and a variety of other activities (see the complete Thursday schedule and Friday schedule), including:
- Stage Areas: New for 2012, the Exhibit Hall featured two stage areas where parents and educators learned everything from how to keep your kids safe online, to how to help struggling learners, to where to find free learning resources, to using magic and attention-getters in teaching.
- Book Giveaway: The Utah Jazz Bear and the Cat in the Hat made appearances as kids and adults shot free throws to win a book at the “Book-A-Basket” event. Hundreds of books were available for all age groups thanks to generous donations from Horace Mann, Utah Idaho Supply/Map World, Barnes & Noble, Staples and Costco. The Utah Jazz also sponsored the event.
- Interactive Kids Learning Area: Kids, parents and teachers alike joined the fun in the KUED Kids Learning Area. Hands-on experiences were provided by KUED, The Leonardo, Mad Science of Greater Salt Lake, the Salt Lake City Library, Utah Education Network Pre-School Pioneer, Mike Hamiltion’s: The Magic in Learning, Discovery Gateway, Salt Lake County Libraries and Thanksgiving Point. Lesson plans featuring the activities were available for educators and parents.
- Pampering Station: One highlight for 2012 was the new Pampering Station, where Convention attendees relaxed and enjoyed a massages, haircuts and manicures. “The Pampering Station was definitely a highlight for me,” said one attendee. “If I can have a massage and manicure (at the UEA Convention), I’ll be back every year,” said another. The stations were free for UEA members.
- Health Screenings: EMI Health provided health screening exams – including cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, body mass index (BMI) and body fat percentage for UEA members.
UEA Membership Booth:
In the front of the Exhibit Hall, the UEA hosted a membership booth where UEA members could gather information and learn more about their Association. The booth featured representatives from membership, U-PAC, UEA-Retired and Access Development. Membership representatives signed up 71 new members during the Convention, including 15 active members, 54 student members and two retired lifetime members.
Movie and Panel Discussion:
More than 100 gathered for a viewing of Mitchell 20, the inspiring story of 20 educators who created a teacher-led school transformation focused on enhancing classroom performance. Following the movie, a panel addressed teacher-led education reform. Panel members included UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, State School Board member Dixie Allen and National Board Certified teacher Dessie Olson.
Education Awards Banquet:
The Superstars in Education banquet included comments from former teacher and University of Utah Athletic Director Chris Hill, dinner and an awards presentations. The UEA and the Arch Coal Foundation presented ten educators with $1,500 as part of the Excellence in Teaching Awards. The UEA also presented the UEA Honor Roll Award for outstanding service to public education and the Charles E. Bennett Award for Human and Civil Rights. (View award winners and event details)
Gifts and Prizes:
Each educator who attended the Convention received a free welcome bag, courtesy of Chevron, containing valuable coupons. In addition, each UEA members could enter to win prizes:
- Grand Prize Drawing: Nearly 900 members entered the “Golden Ticket” prize drawing for a Bose® stereo system (courtesy of Access), a Nook® e-reader, one of two Utah Idaho Supply/Map World gift certificates (courtesy of Utah Idaho Supply) or one of four $100 Donors Choose gift cards (courtesy of Chevron). Here are the winners:
- Bose® Stereo System: Debbie Green, Weber
- Nook® Tablet: Tanya Mahre, Jordan
- $100 Utah Idaho Gift Certificate: Daniel Boone, Granite and Susan Holtkamp, Jordan
- $100 DonorsChoose.org Certificates: Patrick Ciervo, Tooele; Roopa Hashimoto, Granite; Heather Reich, Jordan; and Randy Hortin, Granite
- Early Bird Prize Drawing: The Early Bird prize winner is Millie Rogers, Canyons. Educators who attended one of the Thursday morning events were eligible to enter the drawing. Rogers won a $250 Visa® gift card.
As always, entrance to the UEA Convention was free to all UEA members. The regular admission cost for all others was $5. New for 2012, each UEA member was provided with a supply of free tickets to share with students, parents, neighbors and friends. Advertising directed anyone wanting free Convention tickets to contact a public school teacher.
Fall Recess and Future Dates:
The vast majority of Utah school districts and charter schools scheduled Fall Recess to coincide with the UEA Convention, but a handful did not. Not scheduling a recess for the days of UEA Convention is “a tremendous loss, not only for the teachers, but also for parents and students in these districts,” said Gallagher-Fishbaugh. “We are hopeful school districts with conflicting schedules will adjust in future years so teachers, parents and students can take advantage of the training and learning opportunities available at the UEA Convention.”
Future UEA Convention dates are October 17-18, 2013 and October 16-17, 2014.