Letter from the president

Dear Fellow Oklahoma Educators,

Hello! I hope this finds each of you doing well and excited for spring! We are excited to welcome new our new district members, Norman Public Schools and Bixby Public Schools!

Learning Forward Oklahoma has been busy wrapping up a successful fall, and we are looking forward to spring as we begin reflecting on our fall and winter events and planning ahead.

Professional Learning Support:

LFOK’s first BASE Camp (Building And Supporting Educators) is in the books. Partnering with Norman Public Schools over five days, LFOK was to able provide support to 21 educators seeking alternative pathways to certification. It was exciting, rewarding, and gratifying to working with these professionals as they learned about their students, implemented instructional strategies, applied formative assessments, and created lesson plans to improve their students’ knowledge. Reflecting on their five days, here’s what a few had to say:

* I liked getting to work with other new teachers, share ideas, have a safe place to talk.

* My favorite part was learning about formative and summarize assessments.

* The book, “Teach Like a Champion,” was a helpful resource. I enjoyed interacting with other emergency certified teachers. Classroom management and how to deal with difficult students was really helpful. The guests talking about IEPs.

* It was extremely helpful to have so much pertinent information in one place, including information on resources for more information. My favorite part was the human resources: the people who were available to answer questions and offer personal stories and insights from their varied experience.

It was an honor to be a part of their classroom and career journey.

In February, LFOK hosted networking events for professional learning providers and school districts. With a focus on Learning Forward’s Professional Learning Standards, advocacy, and the work to be done supporting Oklahoma’s teachers and leaders, educators collaborated and shared their expertise and learning. Time was also spent brainstorming next steps as we work together to establish effective professional learning.

Those next steps include a Mentor Development Series for novice teachers. The outcomes of this series include increased knowledge, skills, and resources to develop effective mentoring relationships resulting in teacher growth and an improved student experience. Mentors will acquire strategies for assessing practice and providing meaningful feedback to teachers, and learn to support teachers in creating and sustaining classrooms that address the needs of every learner. Finally, mentors will learn to foster continuous academic, social, and emotional growth.  We are excited about the possibilities and look forward to getting you details about this new series as soon as they are finalized. Stay tuned!

Advocacy:

Our partnership with Learning Forward continues to focus on advocacy for education funding. Last fall, LFOK board member and Norman Public Schools Executive Director of Staff Development and Student Achievement Beth Albert, represented Oklahoma at a briefing on Capitol Hill. Presenting data on the effects of Title IIA funding on teacher retention in Norman, Beth shared how those monies provided the funding necessary to support new teachers through embedded coaching as well as professional learning opportunities. The end result was increased teacher retention.

From Learning Forward: The White House announced this week that the President will be releasing his Fiscal Year 2021 Proposed Budget on February 10, which will kickstart the FY2021 appropriations process. Learning Forward and its members must be vigilant to build on the $76 million increase for Title II-A that we helped achieve last year. As Learning Forward President and CEO Denise Glyn Borders announced at our annual conference, we are commencing our efforts this year to achieve an annual increase in funding as part of professional learning budgets at every level. We will still continue to push for a much needed and larger increase for Title II-A. To learn more, visit Learning Forward’s website at https://learningforward.org/advocacy/.

Thanks for all you do with our students!  There are so many fun, exciting, and important things taking place for Learning Forward Oklahoma, and we are looking forward to working with and for you!  Please reach out to let us know how we can help.

Sincerely,

Suzie Smith, President Learning Forward Oklahoma

“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.” President Franklin D. Roosevelt

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