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Q&A with AACTE Coaching’s Kandi Hill-Clarke

Kandi Hill-Clarke, Ed.D., is the former dean of the College of Education at the University of Memphis and currently serves as provost fellow for Faculty Affairs and Leadership Development. Hill-Clarke will facilitate the New Deans cohort, part of AACTE Coaching. In the following Q&A, AACTE asked Hill-Clarke for a preview of her cohort’s coursework and what members can expect from participating in this new AACTE-exclusive experience.

Who inspired you to become an educator?

From a young age, I was inspired to become a teacher by my mother, a retired educator who taught elementary school for 40 years. I vividly remember helping her decorate her educational bulletin boards, watching her grade papers, and sitting in on after-school conferences. At the age of six, I knew that I would become a classroom teacher. This realization set me on a path to turn my dream into a reality, beginning with “teaching” my imaginary students in my grandparents’ living room, with the dining room serving as the school’s cafeteria. Pursuing a career in teaching was a choice I made intentionally and strategically and a goal I am proud I accomplished. Teaching is deeply ingrained in me, and throughout my career in higher education, I have been fortunate to both teach and learn in new and different ways as an academic leader.

Q&A with AACTE Coaching’s Debbie K. Mercer

Debbie K. Mercer, Ph.D., is the dean of the College of Education at Kansas State University. Mercer will facilitate the Effective Communication & Navigating Difficult Faculty cohort, part of AACTE’s new Coaching initiative. In the following Q&A, AACTE asked Mercer for a preview of her cohort’s coursework and what members can expect from participating in this new AACTE-exclusive experience.

Who inspired you to become an educator?

It was the women in my life that inspired me to become an educator. My grandma taught in a one-room schoolhouse, my mom went back to school when I was in college to earn her elementary education degree, and taught kindergartners and first graders throughout her career.

N.C. A&T’s Taliaferro Receives National Award Using Data to Ensure Teacher Readiness

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University’s Alisa Taliaferro, Ed.D. recently received the prestigious 2022 Ed-Fi Alliance Educator Interoperability Leader of the Year Award. The award is one from seven community award categories including Lifetime Achievement, Partner, Technical Contributor, Ambassador, Solution and Rookie of the Year. 

“The impact of data interoperability is powerful in that it empowers agency among stakeholders such as students, faculty and administrators by providing them with real-time, accurate and actionable information from multiple sources and well-connected data systems,” said Taliaferro, associate dean of Quality Assurance and Graduate Programs in the College of Education.

Diana Lys Named President of NC Association of Colleges for Teacher Education

The School’s assistant dean for educator preparation and accreditation will lead state teacher preparation advocacy group until 2024

Diana Lys, Ed.D., assistant dean for educator preparation and accreditation at the UNC School of Education, was named the ninth president of the North Carolina Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (NCACTE) on Thursday, Sept. 22, at the organization’s 40th annual Teacher Education Fall Forum held in Raleigh. 

NCACTE is the leading advocacy group for policy issues regarding teacher preparation in North Carolina, and its membership includes private and public educator preparation programs across the state. Lys will serve as NCACTE president until 2024.  

In the role she will have an opportunity to make direct impact on the success of teacher education and preparation in the state — and, ultimately, the success of students, educators, and schools. 

Register Today for the Fall 2022 Virtual State Leaders Institute

With fall now well underway, state associations are busy hosting conferences and gearing up for yet another active year of policymaking on issues impacting educator preparation. Because state policymaking is now a year-round activity, AACTE and ACSR decided that it would be important to create an opportunity for states to connect with each other and with AACTE and its partners at this time of year. 
 
Register for the inaugural Fall Virtual State Leaders Institute on Tuesday, November 1 from 12 to 5 ET. With a low registration fee of $50 for AACTE members and non-members alike, this half-day workshop is a great opportunity for state association leadership teams to reap the benefits of learning from and collaborating with colleagues from other state associations.

Innovation Begins with Education: It’s Time We Make it a Priority

This article originally appeared in District Administration and is reprinted with permission.

happy multiracial university students graduationOur nation’s most significant innovations stem from education. From the founding of our nation to the moon landing in 1969, from the introduction of personal computers in 1971 to the advent of the internet in 1983, such accomplishments would not have occurred without education and an educated populace. Without educators we will not continue to innovate, create, and lead the world. We have ignored the dwindling number of people entering the field of education for decades. As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of teachers exiting classrooms only continues to increase.

Making the Business Case for Public Investment in Early Childhood Education

Early Childhood teacher with group of students exploring a globeIn a recent Washington Post article, AACTE Dean in Residence Leslie Fenwick and two corporate CEOs explore the research that confirms early childhood education programs advance cognitive development and academic achievement that reduces the long-term attainment gaps and produces functioning, responsible adults. Moreover, the authors underscore the critical need to counter the current historic setbacks to high-quality child care—for working mothers and their families and for the U.S. economy at large.

Fenwick, along with Roger W. Crandall, chairman, president and CEO of MassMutual, and JD Chesloff, president and chief executive officer of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable, share a perspective that the business community has a critical role to play to make universal child care and Pre-K a reality.

The article focuses on three primary areas: an evolving American workforce and caregiver model, promoting economic growth and equity in education, and advocating for a solution.

To read the full article, “The business case for public investment in early-childhood programs,” visit the Washington Post website.

A Call for Civility in K-12 Education

Permission granted by Jeremiah Robinson, the Office of Mayor Martin J. Walsh, City of Boston

In this time of division and crisis, we, as school leaders, cannot sit quietly by. Volatile and violent debates threaten to erode our hallways and undermine our solemn promise to America’s students—to provide them with high-quality education in safe spaces. We are compelled to reaffirm what and who we stand for and to advocate for a collective recommitment to civility in our schools and in our communities.

Education and Democracy: Critique of Diversity, Equity, and Race for Liberatory Practices

This op-ed originally appeared in Diverse Issues in Higher Education and is reprinted with permission.

Kimberly White-Smith and Jacob Easley

I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually. – James Baldwin 

The momentum of social and racial justice fueled by recent events finds us at a significant crossroad with divergent paths—one path opening to opportunity and one leading to entropy. The approach we choose to follow will affect society and the lives of many for generations to come. Should we choose the way of opportunity, we must seriously grapple with the debates and our commitment to preserving a true democracy. Should we select the other, we accept the deterioration of hard-earned civil rights—choosing to abdicate to systems, laws, and politics that have historically disadvantaged those unable to make a living wage and people of color. As deans of educator preparation programs who work closely with the nation’s two largest school districts (New York City Department of Education and Los Angeles Unified School District), we understand the relevance of education. It is the core vehicle for liberatory practice and for championing American democracy. If education is the road to national mobility, and we believe it is, we must preserve the mechanisms and freedoms to critique and examine the governing structures of our society.

Let’s Work Together to Solve a Growing Demand for Skilled Teachers

A first-grade teacher at Capital City Public Charter School leads a lesson about bee colonies with her students.This article originally appeared in The Hechinger Report.

Long before the pandemic, school districts across the nation struggled to staff classrooms with skilled teachers. The crisis did not create the teacher shortage, but it accelerated teacher retirements and other departures while contributing to declining enrollments in educator preparation programs.

Our nation’s education system spans national, state, district, classroom and community levels. Many rightly wonder if this ecosystem’s demand for qualified teachers can be met in the post-pandemic era.

To do so, we need deeper—and more active—collaborations to address the multiple layers of challenges inside the teaching profession so that we can effectively recruit, train and retain more teachers.

COVID and Beyond: An Eye Toward High Expectations for Quality Teaching

Addressing the needs of new teachers affected by the twin crises.

Teacher working with young students

Over the past year, COVID-19 created an uncertain landscape that deeply impacted our nation’s educational systems. Compounding the effects of the pandemic, another crisis emerged—racial injustice. These twin crises together have generated new obstacles and exacerbated those that have long been a concern of the educator community. As we reopen schools and return to in-class instruction, teachers face unprecedented challenges toward “getting back to normal,” including safety concerns, the need to address learning loss, and the social and emotional well-being of their students—a daunting undertaking for even the most experienced teacher.

Education Now: It was Best of Times, It was the Worst of Times

This article originally appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch and is reprinted with permission.

Jane S. BrayCharles Dickens once wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” This sentiment resonates to many as the education of our children resurfaces from the pandemic. Teachers and schools have been challenged by this unexpected enemy and emerged remarkably strong. Looking toward the future, the education of our children has taken on great significance since COVID-19, but it also will face unexpected—in addition to the familiar—obstacles.

There are so many good things happening in education today. Front and center of all that is good is the funding that has been given to education at the federal level through the CARES Act and from other COVID-19 relief measures. Most schools are planning for face-to-face instruction in the fall, and many are providing summer sessions to help students make academic gains lost during the pandemic. Most graduations this spring proceeded in typical fashion, with some caution and adjustments, to the delight of students and families.

Turning a Crisis into an Opportunity to Invest in Teachers

Teachers and staff from UCLA Community School meet with UCLA professors to discuss the various research projects happening at the school.

“Never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” Rahm Emanuel, Former Mayor of Chicago

In the past year, our nation’s educational system faced an epic crisis brought about by the pandemic, leaving education leaders wondering when relief would be in sight. That relief arrived on March 11, 2021, when the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) was passed by Congress, allocating approximately $130 billion for the K-12 education system and nearly $40 billion for the higher education system. As the Biden-Harris administration launches into action with the massive rollout of unprecedented education funding, school districts now have the financial resources and the opportunity to collaborate with educator preparation programs (EPPs) to tackle a long-standing crisis—the shortage of professionally qualified educators.

Does Your Child’s Teacher Know How to Teach?

Graphic of teacher walking into a hectic classroom

Illustration by Paige Vickers

This opinion article by AACTE Dean in Residence Leslie T. Fenwick was published in Politico and is reprinted with permission.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated harmful educational inequalities in the preK-12 public education system. The nation’s poorest students, Black and Latino students, and our disabled students have been the most negatively impacted by school closings necessitated by the pandemic. Black students in high poverty schools have been especially hard hit because of the racialized, historic, and ongoing disinvestment in the education of Black children and youth.

Challenging Times and the Best of Times for Educators

Teacher standing in the front of a classroom

The COVID-19 pandemic made a profound impact our nation’s education system. In most states, educational policies have been implemented to promote the wearing of face coverings, physical distancing, virtual instruction, and intermittent school closures based on the rise of positive COVID-19 cases reported in local communities. Despite the many challenges educators face during this unprecedented time, there are lessons learned and a call for transformation that make this the best of times to pursue a teaching career. Here are some reasons why.