SMETA President- Tracie Nicolai
Dear Fellow English Teachers,
First, please accept this newsletter as your personal invitation to the SMETA 2013 Fall Conference in Cape Girardeau. We would love to see you there to share your experiences with regional instructors and gain a new perspective on the changes and innovations in the teaching of English Language Arts.
Missouri, like most other states, has adopted the Common Core State Standards and our organization has sought to keep up with the changes by inviting two talented presenters to assist our members in the process of writing new curriculum and developing effective strategies to adapt to the changes. Joey O’Neal and Stephanie Kuper will provide our members with a dynamic and practical hands-on presentation designed to help you discern and implement the necessary alterations that come with any major education reform impacting your classroom. The valuable insights you glean from the presentation will inform your teaching and your department curriculum work in reframing what you do each day to shape the future.
Over the summer, a friend and veteran teacher discussed with me the bright spots of teaching, as well as the pitfalls, including the high rate of burnout within our profession stemming from grading essays to the constant assessments to the other mini-fires that pop up during the course of a day spent teaching young people. Eventually, these ingredients—when left unchecked—can corrode our passion for our students and our content. She and I came to the same conclusion about our profession: to keep it in perspective and refresh our minds, hearts, and spirits, we must focus on our students. The best ways to reach them. The best ways to teach them. The best. While Common Core faces certain scrutiny and a plethora of questions from many, those of us on the front lines of education know that the priority—no matter the label—is meeting the needs of our students. The bottom line remains the same: our students need reading, writing, critical thinking, and speaking and listening skills; the multi-faceted, quite necessary subjects within the umbrella of English Language Arts education have not changed. Pendulums swing, priorities shift, and pressures build to continue progressing and achieving at all levels of education. Throughout it all, we steadfastly focus on the reason we became teachers: our students. The young people we strive to teach every day—the ones who excel, the ones who struggle, the in-between ones, and the challenging ones—count on us as never before to offer them skills, insight, and inspiration to make their way in the world. Join me in the spirit of this year’s conference in prevailing, despite the odds in this ever-cynical and data-driven world, to achieve excellence in our English Language Arts field: Keep Calm and Teach On!