As the school year ends, the Arizona K12 Center staff reflects on the ways they’ve supported teachers during 2014–2015. The Center, which celebrated its 15th anniversary in the fall, came alongside Arizona teachers in many ways, including professional development trainings and funding assistance th

Jul 30, 2015

As the school year ends, the Arizona K12 Center staff reflects on the ways they’ve supported teachers during 2014–2015. The Center, which celebrated its 15th anniversary in the fall, came alongside Arizona teachers in many ways, including professional development trainings and funding assistance through the Network to Transform Teaching (NT3) Grant. At the core of each endeavor, the organization commits to serving the state’s educators that impact students firsthand.

In an effort to cultivate lifelong learning, the Arizona K12 Center offered opportunities for teachers to advance their practice on the professional continuum. Through the Writing Made Easy workshops, Doug Fisher events, and Thought Leader Series, teachers gleaned the importance of continually enhancing their craft.

Amber Parks travels the United States as the Director and Lead Consultant for the Learning Project. In 2014, she visited Phoenix three times to work with 40 Arizona teachers, presenting "Writing Made Easy." The title of her three-day workshop clearly defines the learning outcomes, which is that incorporating writing into all subject areas is far from impossible.

Parks claims writing should be included in all content areas, and this practice needs to be a classroom norm.

“Teachers need to let writing become a seamless thread that’s woven throughout the school day,” Parks urged.

The Arizona K12 Center’s Doug Fisher events drew crowds of roughly 250 people each time. While one session spoke to close reading and nvarchar(max)-dependent questions, the other addressed creating a culture of achievement. Each one-day training session offered practical advice for teachers looking to better their school communities.

According to Stacey Hicks, National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT), Fisher helps teachers turn vision into reality.

“Not only is he knowledgeable, he also makes the learning applicable to participants’ classrooms and students. You are able to walk away and implement strategies and tips immediately and effectively,” Hicks explained.

As the Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) Project Director for the Arizona K12 Center, Hicks confirmed Fisher will return to Arizona on February 23, 2016 for his Unstoppable Learning event. Participants will create clear learning targets, prepare effective lessons, and successfully assess instruction.

The Thought Leader Series spanned the school year. Those that participated in one of the four unique professional learning opportunities engaged in conversations with renowned educational leaders.

Taryl Hansen, NBCT, Ed.D., is the Director of Teacher Leadership at the Arizona K12 Center. She claims the notion for the series surfaced in a very organic way.

“The idea first generated because of a strong desire to bring teachers to the table and provide them with access to some of the country’s greatest educational authors, speakers and researchers. Far too often, the people sitting in the room, who are privy to hearing from such renowned thought experts, are not the ones engaged in the hard work of teaching,” Dr. Hansen explained. “This year’s Thought Leader Series provided a space for educators to hear directly from those that study and analyze the broader landscape of education. Thereby, they were able to ask the hard questions and seek connections to their very own connvarchar(max)s and classrooms.”

Erin Brandon is a reading coach in the Liberty Elementary School District. Having attended other Arizona K12 Center events this year, she said she was greatly impacted by the Thought Leader Series event featuring Doctors Andy Hargreaves and Dennis Shirley.

“I am happy that I attended the final Thought Leader Series event. I was reflecting on the school year and how things had been going prior to attending,” she explained. “With the school year winding down, I came into that session feeling a bit defeated. Hearing both men speak sparked some inspiration for me and reminded me why I do what I do. Receiving the book Uplifting Leadership by Dr. Hargreaves was a great surprise. I immediately began reading it after I left the session.”

In addition to the speakers mentioned above, throughout the series, Arizona educators had the chance to hear from Doctors David Berliner, Audrey Amrein-Beardsley and Linda Darling-Hammond. During each two-hour session, these experts shared their knowledge and engaged directly with participants through rich discussion.

In an attempt to offer yearlong, sustained professional learning, the Arizona K12 Center supported 10 school districts through the Master Teacher Program, aiding 25 master teachers that serve as mentors to beginning teachers. Leaders at the Center say this work will continue during 2015-2016.

The Network to Transform Teaching Grant was successful in the first year of implementation. According to Hicks, the Arizona K12 Center increased the number of support opportunities to meet increased candidate interest.

“We offered an additional Coaching Saturday and added a fall and winter National Board Institutes, in addition to being able to award scholarships to 217 teachers throughout the state of Arizona,” Hicks explained. “The Arizona K12 Center was able to employ 21 National Board Ambassadors for Arizona across the state. These individuals presented to various stakeholders to share the new updates to National Board Certification and promoted candidacy. In the fall semester, 17 Ambassadors held more than 40 meetings and met with 299 teachers and 28 administrators, superintendents, and district office personnel.”

The Network to Transform Teaching Grant will remain a large focus as the organization moves forward.

Although the Arizona K12 Center’s learning events have concluded for the school year, summer and fall opportunities are just around the corner. This summer marks the tenth year for both Camp Plug and Play and the Teacher Leadership Institute.

True to their mission of providing high-quality professional learning and teacher leadership development, the Arizona K12 Center invites educators to attend upcoming events on their professional learning calendar. It is with great pride that every staff member at the Center pledges to support the improvement of teaching and learning in Arizona’s schools.

Discover more about how Arizona K12 Center is dedicated to supporting educators.

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