Arizona K12 Center Executive Director Dr. Kathy Wiebke reflects on the end of the 2019-2020 school year and looks to the future.Jul 01, 2020
The 2019-2020 school year has come to a close and for most of you my guess is that it is none too soon. Everything you knew got turned upside down in March, and you have been doing yeoman’s work since making sure the learning needs of your students were being met in this new virtual world. Someday I want to get a bottle of wine (or two) and sit down with those of you who teach the littles as well as those who teach our kids with IEPs and share how you really do this all in an online environment. Who am I kidding? I want to hear the stories from all of you. The challenges had to be so immense, but like the teachers you are, you made the magic happen. And, true to form, there you were on the last day of school, making sure your kids had the appropriate send off.
May I suggest a long nap, a good book, and a heavy dose of HGTV? After that nap, I want to encourage you to start thinking about the upcoming school year. While we have no idea what it will bring, I do know you. Great teachers never stop learning, and we have another great year of professional learning planned for you.
While I don’t want to pretend the modifications we’ve taken on compare to what you have had to master these past months, I do know that, like you, we yearn for that connection to you and others. We learn when we connect with others.
This summer, we reimagined our work and offered Camp Plug and Play (a.k.a. ‘Tech Camp’) and our Teacher Leadership Institute in a virtual environment. While not our ideal, we are excited about the hundreds more teachers who were able to join us who ordinarily might not have the opportunity to experience an Arizona K12 Center event. Andy Hargreaves also reached out to see if we might want to do a book study on his new book, Moving: A Memoir of Education and Social Mobility. Would we be interested, he asked? Of course we would! We have worked to keep the prices as low as possible — in most cases free — because we know how hard you have all worked. We think Arizona’s teachers could use a break, and we also know you have missed the same connections with others that we do.
For the 2020-2021 school year, we have planned an exciting year of professional learning that focuses on the continuum of practice, starting with the newest members of our profession. We are looking at the continuum of learning, starting with the novice teacher, and have created an array of learning opportunities for the brand new teacher. If you are in your first three years of teaching, we have learning opportunities that are tailored to meet your needs. If you are an experienced teacher, we encourage you to recommit yourself and network with others in the pursuit of National Board Certification. We have the resources that include funding and candidate support ready for you. And, you will always find new ways to learn, lead, and inspire in our podcast, 3Ps in a Pod. Would you like to see all of our professional learning opportunities? You can find most of the events we will be offering through the next year with the most up-to-date details and registration information here on our website. Learning should be ongoing and shared with others.
Just like you, we are working hard to be nimble and adapt. If we see something that might meet a need, we will work hard to bring it to you. We are having to look at teaching and learning with an entirely new lens. With that in mind, we will be looking for opportunities for you to expand your tool chest. So, even if it is not on our calendar, if we see or learn of something that will help you, we will do our best to make it available. You will definitely want to keep an eye on our social media spaces.
While we have no idea what next year will bring, we know you are resilient and talented. This pandemic is forcing us all to reinvent ourselves and look at our work with a new lens. We are reexamining our operations to create a safe learning space for you and have started to make some initial changes. You will still have access to amazing learning opportunities but will find fewer people in the space. Our supply bins will be removed and substituted with your own bag of supplies to use and take home with you. Food most likely won’t be from a buffet but there will still be plenty of it. We are also looking at virtual learning opportunities so, if things shut down again, we will be ready with quality alternatives. And, our great staff will still be there with their smiles, just behind a mask. We will continue to listen to the experts and make modifications as we go because your safety is the safety of us all. Through it all, I think we will all emerge stronger and with new strategies to advance our learning. And, as we advance our learning, we advance the learning of the students and communities we serve.