OKTOY Blog: A Celebration of Teaching

It should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with education that we are in need of teachers in Oklahoma and across the nation. One of the objectives we all agree is critical attracting and retaining top teaching talent. The question then becomes how do we go about doing that?

A few weeks ago some friends of mine partnered with Northeastern State University (NSU) to address this issue.

OKTOY Jason Proctor with 2014 National Teacher of the Year Sean McComb and fellow Oklahoma teachers at NSU.

As one of the largest teacher prep. colleges in Oklahoma, NSU has hosted "Celebration of Teaching" annually for the past 15 years. The event brings in high school students from the across the region who have expressed even a slight interest in education to share with them what this industry is all about. I was honored to join them this year.

The students started their day with an inspirational message from the 2014 National Teacher of the Year, Sean McComb. Next, I spoke to them about the statewide teacher shortage, telling them that we may have a serious crisis in filling positions, but in no way do we have a shortage of great teachers in Oklahoma.

To offer the students a chance to ask their own questions, I invited some great educators from across our state to join me in a panel discussion. In attendance were fellow 2015 OKTOY Finalists Tonya Boyle, a fifth grade teacher at H. Cecil Rhodes Elementary in Broken Arrow, and Diane Walker, a history teacher at Muskogee High School. We were also joined by 2016 Heritage Elementary (Tahlequah) TOY Lezlie Gilbert, and 2016 Norman High School TOY Shawn Sheehan.

Student questions ranged from how you deal with difficult students, teacher pay, and federal and state mandates to requests for advice on deciding whether or not to pursue a career in teaching. I also remember a question about who would win in a fight between Batman and Darth Vader. Their questions were all very reflective and showed that they were genuinely interested in the profession, yet time restricted us from addressing the subtleties of the Dark Knight versus the Dark Lord.

After the morning speakers, the students were released to lunch and workshops to learn in small groups. Those sessions focused on teaching strategies, such as using Reader’s Theater as a content area teaching strategy, robotics, technology-enhanced fitness, and inclusion advantages, as well as opportunities to learn more about college life.

Overall the event went really well and the responses I received from students afterward reflected that. I know of at least one student in attendance who is now strongly considering teaching as her profession of choice.

Being intentional about promoting our profession and inspiring others to do the same is part of the recruitment process. In regards to this event, the fact that we were able to at least inspire one individual makes it well worth the effort.

By: Jason Proctor
2015 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year





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Last updated on March 25, 2015