Wednesday, May 22, 2013

license renewal

As the year is coming to a close, your district's continuing education committee is likely holding its final meeting to review clock hours for license renewal. Licenses expire on June 30 the year of expiration. So for those of you who have licenses up in 2013 or 2014, now's the time to make sure you have everything required for renewal. For everything you need to know about license renewal, see the Licensing page on the MN Dept of Education website.

For 5-year license renewal, Minnesota requires the completion of 125 hours of professional development that have been approved through the local school district’s continuing education committee. As part of the 125 professional development hours, the Minnesota Legislature, by statute, currently requires all teachers to evidence the six areas below:
  1. Positive behavior intervention strategies
  2. Accommodation, modification, and adaptation of curriculum, materials, and instruction
  3. Early-onset mental illness in children and adolescents
  4. Reading
    • (except the following licensure fields are exempt from evidencing the reading preparation renewal requirement: school counselors, school psychologists, school nurses, school social workers, audiovisual directors and coordinators, recreation personnel).
  5. Technology (new requirement as of 2012)
    • Licensed school personnel who do not provide direct instruction to students, including, at least, counselors, school psychologists, school nurses, and school social workers are exempt from this requirement.
  6. Reflective statement (new requirement as of 2012)
For the reflective statement, this is a written statement prepared by the teacher that "demonstrates reflection on his or her professional accomplishment and includes a self-assessment of his or her professional growth using one of the following types of evidence:
  • Support for student learning
  • Use of best practices techniques and their applications to student learning
  • Collaborative work with colleagues that includes examples of collegiality (i.e., attested-to committee work, collaborative staff development programs, professional learning community work)
  • Continual professional development (i.e., job-embedded or other ongoing formal professional learning, including coursework)" (MDE)
These hours need to be verified by your school district (or, if you are not working or associated with a particular district, you can apply through the district in which you live). In most districts, there are members from each school building on the committee to help verify these hours for when it is time to renew your license. There are some exceptions to these credit hour requirements, including those who have completed National Board of Professional Standards Certification, National Certification of School Psychologists, or American Speech and Hearing Association Certification.

For most of you that are working in a school district, your district professional development plan will provide these opportunities for you. Some of you that have worked in several districts, are subs, or have taken some time off in your teaching, you might have to participate in additional professional development opportunities.  There are occasional "Save Your License Saturdays" offered with a series of workshops on the above topics for those of you in need of these credits. But for the majority of you, you will be able to meet these requirements through your district offerings.

Once you've met these requirements, you're ready to apply for your license renewal. You can do this through the MDE website, where you might have to set up your account. Then you're all set to renew your license!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Guest Blogger: Next year's class list

Who did you get for next year? 

Guest BloggerBarbara B. Washington, Induction Lead/Academic Equity Specialist Faculty, Concordia University, St. Paul.

It is time again to determine a list of students that will move from one grade level to the next. Sometimes school administrators ask the classroom teacher to recommend which students in their class should remain together in a learning community and which students should be separated; and who would know best besides the classroom teacher? Is it appropriate to make face value judgments about a student’s future learning environment?

How would you choose to participate in such a process if you were asked to make recommendations regarding the students at your grade level or in your program?  Would you select out the students labeled as special education (EB/D, LD, gifted, etc.), those preforming below grade level in reading and math, having attendance concerns, or of different ethnicities, races, and so on. Or would you choose a more equitable method to utilize a random selection for the students? As a teacher beginning the initial stages of practice what shall your options be?

Dr. Belinda Williams (1996) led the Research for Better Schools Project that developed the Urban Learner Framework. The framework is an initiative supported by the U.S. Department of Education's Regional Education Laboratory and focuses on recognizing and using the special competencies (strengths) that urban children bring to the classroom. The Urban Learner Framework underscores four assumptions that present a positive characterization of learners as capable, motivated, and able to build on cultural strengths. This educational philosophy (way of thinking) reverses negative labeling of students such as lacking ability, culturally deprived, unmotivated, and at-risk.

Holding a positive asset charged attitude and belief system that is mirrored by teaching style and pedagogy makes the task of creating next year’s class list easy to discern. Dr. Williams would advise us to simply place all of the student’s names in a hat and by lottery determine the two or three classroom assignments as necessary. After completing a lottery style or random selection of students for the next grade level, if in fact the class lists still were to need modification for the purpose of equity it might go something like this:  first and last check for gender.