What a year!!! At last year’s CSOTTE Conference, the conversation centered around the debate about whether Texas would embrace EdTPA in the upcoming year. No one could have known that, beginning March 13 (good ‘ole Friday, the 13th), our world would forever inexorably change. Overnight, our world screeched to a halt, and social media became not only popular but critical to keep our connections and our economy moving forward. As Americans are wont to do, we adapted and embraced the future. Interestingly, K-12 education became a focal point in our world as teachers pivoted to move instruction online for “their kids.” Overnight, the profession of “teacher” came into focus as memes jammed our social media with statements such as “Where do I request a substitute for my class today?” or “My kid wants to change teachers” and “Now that school is closed for a while, my kids will be taking AP Chores, Honors Yard Work, Dishwashing 101, AP Trash Disposal, and Home Economics aka Make Your Own Lunch.” My personal favorite said it best: “Been homeschooling a 6-year old and an 8-year old for one hour and 11 minutes. Teachers Deserve to make a billion dollars a year. Or a week!”
Prior to COVID-19, we, as a collective body, had begun to embrace a new perspective. Tired of concerns about the negativity associated with the profession of educator, we agreed to concentrate on successes. At the TACTE meeting in January, deans wanted to focus on the positive, can-do spirit that new teachers express as they tackle the classroom. We wanted to celebrate the teacher—the one individual, besides the parents and family members, who has the power to impact the lives of the children they teach! Simultaneously, Raise Your Hand, Texas also embraced this philosophy and launched a celebration of teachers in Texas with a campaign, #TeachersCan!
Themes for CSOTTE Conferences of the past focused on the challenges of recruiting, preparing, and retaining these PK-12 teachers for the classroom. But even before COVID-19, the prevailing attitudes among those of us who work most closely with teacher education were changing. As Chair of CSOTTE in 2015-16, I continued the earlier trend to focus on the challenges of education but challenged us to move toward solutions with the theme Build a Coalition to Empower our Educators. Dr. Marlene Zipperlin (2016-17) continued that trend by imploring us to focus on A Time for Leadership as did Dr. John Sargent in 2017-18 with Embracing Change. Last year, Chair Tim Sutton focused on the practitioner with Clinical Practice: Challenges and Celebrations (2018-19).
As Chair of CSOTTE again this year (2019-20), I am pleased to announce that we are borrowing the mantra of positivity about the profession I love so much--#TeachersCan! Let’s celebrate the teachers who touch the lives of our children in Texas—those who stay up late and work on weekends to prepare for classes; who take money from their own pockets to support their classrooms or, sometimes, the children in them; who create parades to drive by their children’s homes to wave and show them they care; and who impact the world through their daily interactions with those children. Let’s celebrate the educators who prepare those teachers for whatever our world has to offer, even, yes, COVID-19! Let’s celebrate the year of the teacher!! #Teachers CAN!