Positive Energy to Sustain Teaching
By June Shultz
Today, with all the requirements put on teachers beyond the classroom, i.e. testing, assessments, evaluations, public relations, communications with parents/guardians, etc… How does a good teacher remain a good teacher and meet the needs of all the students in the classroom?
As a classroom teacher of many years’ experience, beginning at the high school, moving to preschool, and then to elementary and finally to middle school, I have seen teachers “burn out” with all the stress of trying to “do it all.” One of the ways that I was able to overcome the stress of not being fully appreciated by administrators and sometimes colleagues was through my association with other outstanding teachers. Before you think I might have been a pariah and socially inept, you should know that I was often asked, and still am, to present for faculty in-service days, to be a part of a curriculum development team for the district to implement language arts skills across the curriculum, as well as, to help to create and norm the PA State PSSA tests. Still, there was and is, always the desire to be better at what I teach.
There are two resources, that as a teacher of English and Language Arts, I have relied upon, year after year to upgrade and enhance my skills as a learner and teacher—both are educational organizations that not only I, but the excellent teachers across the state of PA hold in high esteem. They are the “shot in the arm” I have turned to year after year to maintain a high quality of teaching in the classroom.
Today I’ll focus on one of those organizations, The Keystone State Reading Association, known as KSRA to all those who are members. I learned of this organization through my local reading council, the Lancaster-Lebanon Reading Council, which I joined because a colleague asked; I saw the new ideas he was gaining from the organization. Once I joined, I was hooked. Here is an organization that stays on top of the latest in educational reform, techniques for delivering best practices in the classroom, and a yearly conference with the best authors and educators of reading and literacy in the business. I found that authors, whose texts I had read or articles of great educators in educational journals were presenting their information—in person—at KSRA conferences. Wow! I could hear Linda Reif, Kelly Gallagher, Doug Fisher—and back in the day—Donald Graves, Lucy Calkins, etc… The president of the International Reading Association is there almost every year! What a boon to a hungry-for-new-ideas, need-information-on-the-latest-twist-and-expectation-in-education, and I-can-actually-meet-these great-educators such an organization is! This past year, I learned about using Animoto (making videos to enhance teaching); and yes, it is tied to the standards, or how about making and using QR codes in the classroom. Imagine using iPads, computers, and other technology in very effective ways to help students who know more about these devices than most teachers do—wouldn’t it be great to surprise your students on using technology for learning and not just socializing? That’s just a small part of the energy I gain from being part of such a great professional organization. Check it out at ksrapa.org.
June Shultz currently holds the positions of Conference Advisory Chair, Assistant treasurer, and Keystone to Reading Secondary Co-Chair for KSRA. She will be Co-Editor for Pennsylvania Reads, starting in June 2014. She loves to read, create art, and spend time with her five year old grandson, as well as, travel, and enjoy time with her husband and family, including her church family. She enjoys the PAWLP Writer’s group and enjoys sharing her poetry.