We hear you
Results of the Answer Key reader survey
In March, we asked you what you thought about the newsletter you’re reading now. We wanted to know if you find Answer Key a valuable resource as a student teacher or teacher trainee, and we asked you what issues you want to know more about. If the desire to learn more is the mark of a great educator, then the results of the survey are truly heartening. Here’s what you told us:
- You want to read more research-based advice on classroom management and pedagogy.
- You want to be plugged in to current events in education in Texas and across the country—even internationally.
- You want a consistent source for news and commentary on state and federal education policy, from updates on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind, to standards-based testing and accountability.
About 90 percent of you said you wanted opportunities to network with other first-year educators through ATPE venues such as ATPE’s first-ever day of Professional Learning and Networking (PLAN). Seventy percent of you said you wanted to collaborate with your peers in online education forums like the ATPE Idea Exchange and Book Circle.
The bottom line: You told us you want to be more deeply informed about your profession, both inside and outside of the classroom, and you want to take an active part in shaping these conversations. If you didn’t already know it, you’re about to enter a profession that truly needs you—and needs you at your level best: Within the next 10 years, more than half of the 3.2 million educators in the U.S. will become eligible for retirement. We will continue to listen to you and bring our best to Answer Key. Thank you for your responses to the survey.
Make the Texas Legislature work for you
Teach the vote
Here’s a crash course on the Texas Legislature to prime you for election season. The State Legislature is actually quite similar to the U.S. Congress. Both are bicameral, which means they are made up of two separate bodies, a House of Representatives and a Senate. The House consists of 150 members each elected to represent one of Texas’ 150 House districts and is overseen by the Speaker of the House, who coordinates House business and appoints special committees assigned to various issues of public policy (among them is the House Committee on Public Education). The Senate’s 31 members represent Texas’ 31 state Senate districts and are overseen by Texas’ lieutenant governor.
Unlike the U.S. Congress, which is in session throughout the year, the Texas Legislature only meets for 140 days every two years. Each legislative session, legislators file thousands of bills, which are proposals to change existing laws or create new ones. The speaker and lieutenant governor assign each bill to the appropriate committee for consideration and revision. Committee-approved bills are sent to the House or Senate floor for further consideration, then forwarded to the other chamber, where this process is repeated. Sometimes one chamber will make changes to a bill that’s been approved by the other. In this case, the bill is sent to a conference committee made up of members of both chambers to work out the differences between the two versions of the bill. The vast majority of bills filed each session, however, are seldom brought up for consideration or are voted down at some point during the process. Bills which are approved by the House and Senate are then sent to the governor’s office, where they either become law or are vetoed.
It’s up to you to vote for the people you think will best represent your profession and Texas students throughout this process. Visit TeachtheVote.org to find out how.
Here’s a reminder on important upcoming election dates:
- April 30—Last day to register to vote in the Texas primaries.
- May 14—First day of early voting.
- May 25—Last day of early voting.
- May 29—Primary election day.
Polling places will be crowded May 29, and your schedule might make it difficult for you to make it on the actual day of elections. Luckily, you can take advantage of the convenience of early voting. Early voters do not have to vote at their precinct location as they do on election day. Simply go to any early voting location in your county, show your Texas driver’s license or voter registration card, and cast your ballot.
PLAN for the 2012-13 school year
Register for a day of Professional Learning and Networking
Registration for PLAN will soon be open. Put together a team and bring your fellow student teachers and education majors to this innovative event, July 14 at the Austin Convention Center.
PLAN features presentations from inspiring speakers Brad Cohen, Barbara Coloroso, Sharon Draper, Patrick Henry and Patrick John Hughes, Nancy Oelklaus, and Drs. Harry and Rosemary Wong; a panel presentation with speakers from the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented (TAGT); and a hands-on technology session from the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA).
ATPE is especially proud to host a three-hour presentation by Drs. Harry and Rosemary Wong, authors of the bestselling book The First Days of School, award-winning former educators and highly sought-after educational speakers. The Wongs will share strategies for effective classroom instruction and management in a presentation titled How to Be an Effective and Successful Teacher. The Wongs’ recognitions include the Horace Mann Outstanding Educator Award and nominations for the Brock International Prize in Education, among many others.
Join the pre-event conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #atpePLAN, and network with other aspiring and first-year educators who are planning to attend by visiting the ATPE Idea Exchange.
Keeping the summer professional
Relax Leave It to Beaver-style
Spring break has come and gone, and summer is almost here. For many, that means a break from the academic routine and a chance to relax. But before you head out to those beach and backyard parties, remember that what you do on your own time can affect you professionally. Running afoul of the law—a DUI or public intoxication charge or a similar offense—can put an end to a good time and even end your career before it begins.
A criminal background check is one component of teacher certification, and the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) takes criminal history quite seriously. Where SBEC is concerned, the public school educator could conceivably fit into an episode of Leave It to Beaver quite comfortably. SBEC rightly sees educators as role models to their students and red flags any behavior that might not conform to this standard and expectation, so remember to enjoy your hard-earned summer time responsibly as you prepare to enter your first classroom.
- ATPE Foundation scholarships—Applications for the Barbara Jordan Memorial Scholarship and the Fred Wiesner Educational Excellence Scholarship are due June 1.
- ATPE Book Circle—Read and discuss Alfie Kohn's The Homework Myth on the ATPE Idea Exchange beginning May 4 and earn up to seven hours of continuing professional education (CPE) credit.
- Free TCEA webinars—Visit the TCEA website for a full listing of summer professional learning webinars that are free for ATPE members.
- Summer fun discounts—Are you ready for some summer fun? ATPE members can save on:
- Auto rental—Avis®, Alamo®, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental.
- Hotels—Comfort Inn®, Comfort Suites®, Quality®, Sleep Inn®, Clarion®, MainStay Suites®, Econo Lodge®, Rodeway Inn®, Suburban Extended Stay®, Ascend Collection properties, La Quinta Inns and Suites, Baymont Inns and Suites®, Days Inn®, Howard Johnson®, Knights Inn®, Microtel Inns and Suites®, Ramada®, Super 8 ®, Travelodge®, Wingate® by Wyndham and Wyndham Hotels and Resorts®.
- Theme parks—ATPE members can purchase discount tickets to Sea World Orlando, Sea World San Antonio, Sea World San Diego, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Adventure Island, Aquatica, Water Country USA and Sesame Place by using the Worlds of Discovery Parks online ticket order program. Members can also purchase discount tickets to all three Schlitterbahn Waterparks through Schlitterbahn’s online ticket order program.
For more information on these and other services and discounts that ATPE is proud to offer members, log in to the secure area of the Services and Discounts page at atpe.org. (Note: You must log in to access the necessary ID numbers, reservation links and telephone numbers.)
Answer Key is an exclusive benefit for ATPE’s college student and teacher-trainee members. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.