EngageOK Teachers - January 2019

January 2019

education mattersState Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister is joining forces with OETA for a half-hour monthly talk show to address important topics and key initiatives for public education across our state. Don’t miss the first episode of Education Matters, 7 p.m. Jan. 17, where she will be talking about changing workforce demands and equipping students with the career-ready skills for a successful future. 

Heightened Engagement Reason for 2019 Optimism

Dear Teachers,

Happy new year and welcome to the second semester!

January ushers in a change in leadership in our state, as we welcome a new governor, lieutenant governor and dozens of elected officials. Every transition brings an opportunity to build new relationships and chart new paths. A recent #oklaed chat – a regular Sunday night discussion on Twitter where educators and other stakeholders from around the state share ideas – included a record number of current and soon-to-be-inaugurated elected leaders. We should all welcome this engagement as a positive sign – collaboration at all levels is central to our work on behalf of kids.

Moreover, we must not forget the importance of following through on our commitments. As I start my second term next week as state superintendent, our 8-year strategic plan for education, Oklahoma Edge, sits on my desk. This 120-page document outlines OSDE’s goals for the state, many of which are already in progress. You can read the Oklahoma Edge plan here. Building upon those goals, we have requested a 2019-20 budget request of $3.35 billion for common education – an increase of more than $440.6 million over the current year.

There are many reasons to be optimistic about 2019. Thanks to your hard work and dedication, interest and investment in public education are on the rise. Lasting, impactful change takes time, but we have momentum on our side. By continuing to demonstrate leadership in civic engagement, you can help make a difference for students inside every classroom in Oklahoma. Thank you for your devotion and commitment to public education.

It is my honor to continue to serve you and 700,000 Oklahoma schoolchildren.

With respect and gratitude,


Joy Hofmeister, State Superintendent of Public Instruction

How to Keep Up With Education Legislation

updateThe new Legislature convenes Feb. 4. Even though thousands of bills are filed each session, following those that interest you doesn’t have to be daunting. Here’s how to keep up with education legislation in the early months of session:

  1. Know the committees. Bills must first be assigned to, heard by and passed out of a House or Senate committee before they can be heard before the full House or Senate. Generally, education bills related to policy go before the House or Senate education committees, and education bills with a fiscal impact go before the House or Senate education appropriations subcommittee.
  2. Watch a committee meeting. The Senate Education Committee meets at 9 a.m. Tuesdays in Room 535. The Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee meets at 11 a.m. Wednesdays in Room 419C. House committees will release their schedules soon. Meetings are live-streamed here: Senate and House. Agendas are posted 24 hours in advance.
  3. Track the bills. The deadline for the introduction of all bills and joint resolutions is Jan. 17. To track bills online, use the search function on the Legislature’s website.
  4. Know the deadlines. Bills must pass their originating chamber by Mar. 14 or become dormant (cannot be heard during current session but will carry over to 2020). April 25 is the last day for bills to pass the opposite chamber, and the Oklahoma Constitution requires the Legislature to adjourn by May 31.


Combatting Bullying: Response and Prevention

From the OSDE Office of Special Education Services

A student is being bullied when he or she is repeatedly exposed to negative actions by another student that results in an imbalance of power. Bullying can take many forms, including physical, verbal, written, emotional and cyber. To prevent the occurrence of bullying and improve your ability to respond to instances of bullying behavior:

  • Use a trauma-informed approach when responding to bullying behavior.
  • Cultivate a safe and supportive classroom environment.
  • Teach (and reteach as needed) foundational social-emotional skills such as listening, identifying and managing feelings, calming strategies, and making and keeping friends.
  • Provide explicit instruction on self-management skills, including how to monitor and manage emotions, thoughts and behaviors.
  • Model empathy by showing care and concern for others.
  • Teach, model and provide opportunities for students to problem-solve disagreements.
  • Actively supervise your classroom at all times, particularly during unstructured or group activities.
  • Allow students to help in planning how to address bullying in the classroom.

When students approach you with a problem involving intimidating or bullying behavior, take the following steps to help the student feel safe:

  1. Say, “Thanks for telling me.”
  2. Listen empathetically. Get the who, what, when and where. Ask if this is the first time the problem has occurred.
  3. Ask the student if the person who didn’t stop is likely to react if confronted by an adult about the behavior.
  4. Help the student select a course of action.

For more tips about bullying and handouts from OSDE’s special education experts, click here.

Free OSDE Summits to Address Trauma, ICAPs


Join us for the Student Success Summit, Jan. 17-18 in Oklahoma City, to learn how to implement ICAPs and forge partnerships with members of your local business community. Registration is open for both days. To register for Jan. 17, click here. To register for Jan. 18, click here.


Continuing the Conversation: Trauma Informed Instruction, Feb. 18 in Midwest City, is open to all elementary and secondary educators, administrators and counselors. Schools are encouraged to send a team to learn trauma-informed instruction strategies from Dr. Robin Gurwitch, a recognized expert in understanding and supporting children in the aftermath of trauma and disasters. (This session will not be live-streamed.) For more information, click here. To register, click here


Tap Into Culturally Responsive Teaching

By Elizabeth Maughan, OSDE Director of Fine Arts

Culturally Responsive Teaching, or CRT, incorporates cultural understanding to better elicit, engage, motivate, support and expand students’ intellectual capacity. Instructional coach Zaretta Hammond recommends improving our understanding of how culture can affect processes in the brain. Three levels of culture may affect students:

  • Surface culture, which includes food, dress, music and holidays. 
  • Shallow culture, which includes social norms, eye contact, personal space and nonverbal communication.
  • Deep culture, which includes our understanding of right and wrong, ethics and spirituality. All challenges to a student’s culture will elicit a response, but when deep culture is challenged or negated, the reaction will be emotional and intense. 

Understanding students’ culture is key to helping them process information. If students are challenged about their beliefs, the amygdala (the reptilian fight-or-flight part of the brain) will go into overdrive. The amygdala will release cortisol that stops all learning for approximately 20 minutes and remains in the body for up to three hours. 

Relationship-building is an effective tool to help students learn. Positive relationships keep students’ safety-threat detection system in check. For simple ideas on how to start positive relationships, click here.

Elizabeth has taught for 14 years in Oklahoma and Kansas, most recently in Piedmont. She is running the OKC half-marathon for the seventh year in a row this spring.


World Languages Boost Learning in All Subjects

By Cathleen Skinner, OSDE Director of World Languages Other Than English

Do you want to make a substantial, positive difference for every student? Support world languages in your school.

Effective world language programs use methods that build students’ second language and improve their overall academic performance. Learning a second language reinforces and further develops literacy skills and strengthens an understanding of linguistic elements that support ELA standards. Second languages also help develop spatial reasoning and improve analytic skills. Students who study another language have overall higher grades and outperform monolingual peers on the ACT and SAT, even in science. Further, students who study a second language develop confidence, interpersonal skills, multiple perspectives for solving problems and an appreciation for other people and cultures.

Learning a second language challenges and supports gifted students and opens new horizons for borderline achievers by developing important qualities and skills in both groups. It prepares all students for college and career.

Exposure to world languages in the early grades is important. Research shows sequential instruction in a second language that continues to graduation leads to higher reading scores and a greater likelihood of developing a career-level proficiency in that language.

Help your students by advocating for world languages in your school or district and by bringing world languages into your classroom.

Cathleen taught world languages in rural, urban and suburban districts for over 20 years before directing the Foreign Language Education program at Oklahoma State University. She is a passionate advocate for multilingualism and believes it is a way to help build understanding between cultures.

Get Free Resources, Apply for Fellowships

SAT/ACT TABLES: The Commission on Educational Quality and Accountability (CEQA) has approved ACT and SAT subject-area cut scores to be used in the state accountability system. For the SAT/ACT Standard Setting information and conversion tables, click here.

COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG:  Applications are now available for Oklahoma fifth- and eighth-grade teachers interested in receiving a fellowship to attend the 2019 Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute from June 1-7 in Virginia. Applications must be postmarked by Feb. 1. For more information, click here.

constitutionPOCKET CONSTITUTIONS: The Oklahoma Bar Association offers free educational resources, such as pocket-sized booklets containing the full text of the U.S. Constitution, including all amendments, and the Declaration of Independence. High schoolers can also download the free OBA Young Adult Guide, an app full of helpful legal information, including laws concerning traffic accidents and rental agreements. For more information, click here.

PRESIDENTIAL AWARDS: Nominate a deserving secondary teacher in your district to win $10,000 and the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Anyone – including principals, teachers, parents, students, business leaders or members of the general public – may nominate exceptional mathematics or science teachers in grades 7-12. The deadline is March 1. Teachers may also apply directly. For more information, click here.


Donna Gradel, 2018 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, visits Frances Herron, 1979 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, who spent her career teaching speech, agriculture, English and drama. Frances celebrated her 100th birthday in Altus on Dec. 27. #yearoftheteacherOK

100-Year-Old Teacher’s Impact Clear in Altus

by Donna Gradel, 2018 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year

How deep an impact can one teacher have on her community? Most of us will never know, but when you teach for over 40 years and live to be 100 years old, chances of seeing the fruits of your labor increase tremendously.

One of the highlights of 2018 for me was meeting Frances Herron, the 1979 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year. I visited Frances at her assisted living residence in Altus a few weeks prior to her 100th birthday. To say that Frances is smart as a whip is an understatement. Her quick wit kept me laughing, and she introduced me to many of her friends as they passed her room. One was her former student, and Frances immediately entreated her to recite the names of the first seven governors, a task required of her some 50+ years earlier.

Without hesitation, she recited them perfectly, and Frances smiled as her student proceeded to dinner. That’s when I realized the secret of Frances’ success: Establishing a relationship of trust and respect allows a young person to embrace lessons that she will carry with her for a lifetime. Generations of students, motivated by her high standards, have positively influenced southwest Oklahoma. May we never underestimate the power of an excellent teacher. Frances Herron is living proof.

News From Across the State

icumiSTUDENT ADVISORY COUNCIL: Seventy-four Oklahoma high school students have been named to Supt. Hofmeister’s Student Advisory Council, the fourth consecutive year the group has been convened to assist OSDE in matters of policy. To read the story, click here.

TEACHER CORPS: Sixth-grade teacher Micah Waite can’t imagine what this year would have been like if he hadn’t gone through Tulsa Public Schools’ rigorous Teacher Corps program. To read the story, click here.


stillwaterCAREER DAY: Stillwater Middle School students spent their day listening to visiting professionals to learn what they do, why they do it and how they got there. To read the story, click here.

$50,000 PRIZE: Ten lucky teachers in Oklahoma were surprised with $5,000 each from Air Comfort Solutions. To watch their reaction, click here.

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Last updated on January 11, 2019