‘Top 10’ From Atlanta: Resounding Messages at the AACTE Annual Meeting

If any of these statements sound familiar, chances are good that you were at the AACTE Annual Meeting in Atlanta! Here are the top phrases we heard during the conference:

  1. It’s like building a plane while flying it. This description was frequently heard as conference presenters described the challenges and complexity surrounding the development of high-quality assessments for preservice teachers.
  2. I want to teach in Singapore! Who could blame teacher educators and PK-12 teachers alike for envying the Singapore model described in the Welcoming Session by Lin Goodwin? Candidates are supported not only by their preparation program but also by the nation as a whole. Teachers receive financial support during preparation, the respect of the nation for the job they do, and wages competitive with other top-level professions. Who wouldn’t want to teach in such an environment?
  3. Tell our story and change the narrative. Related to the effort of debunking myths about teachers and their preparation, these statements were a call to action. We are inundated with narratives that diminish the efforts of teacher and teacher educators alike. Now, let’s work to shift the focus on teacher quality from what is wrong to what is right!
  4. Teacher preparation should be gauged with “a dashboard, not a scoreboard.” This statement from AACTE President/CEO Sharon P. Robinson during the Welcoming Session set the stage for the conference. Part of changing the narrative surrounding education is helping stakeholders see the fallacy of pegging quality on single data snapshots, which cannot provide a true reflection of preservice, beginning, or practicing teachers—or of their students.
  5. Failure is not an option. In a word (or 5), Etta Hollins spoke to the profound and abiding responsibility that we share as educators. As teachers and teacher educators, we must be dedicated to success because there is no alternative.
  6. Context matters! When will policy makers hear us? There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the issues our schools and teachers face on a daily basis. We must remain sensitive to the unique contexts of our students, communities, schools, and universities. This theme permeated the conference sessions, major forms, and reception conversations alike.
  7. We must work together across settings. Educator preparation programs can’t develop teachers on their own; they depend on the expertise of effective classroom teachers and other PK-12 partners to be part of the process as well. Uniting the profession behind shared goals is a powerful means for supporting student learning.
  8. I can’t wait to tell my colleagues about this. Every session provided an opportunity for presenters to share their stories and for attendees to take innovative ideas home.
  9. If we aren’t driving the accountability car, someone else will do it for us. Conference presenters and attendees were often heard discussing the role of accountability in teacher preparation. It seems that as a profession we are well aware of the need to unify under a working accountability model.
  10. Vegas, here we come! Be sure to join AACTE in these and other ongoing discussions at the next Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, February 23-25, 2016.

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Amanda Bush

George Mason University - AACTE intern

Christine DeGregory

George Mason University - AACTE intern