Use Your Teacher Voice | January 21-25, 2019

ON THE ROAD AGAIN | Last week I had the opportunity to speak with a room full of future teachers at the University of Southern Mississippi. These students were preparing to practice their teaching skills over a two-day professional development workshop.

As I listened to them signing in and heard “elementary,” “secondary music,” “history,” “math,” “science,” and more, I could not help but rejoice! With the critical teacher shortage our state faces, it was so encouraging to see a room of excited and well-prepared young folks about to fulfill their destinies and dreams! These future educators will help fill the gaps in our schools at a time when certified teachers are desperately needed.

There was so much I wanted to share; but, knowing the state of public education here in Mississippi, I decided to start with how to use that infamous “teacher voice.” And no, I don’t mean the teacher voice you use when you’ve asked a class to quiet down for the fourth time in five minutes. I mean the other kind of teacher voice.

I wanted them to know that their future in this profession depends on using their teacher voice beyond the walls of their classroom—a reminder we could all use! First, we must use our voice to ask for and seek out support in whatever classroom situation we find ourselves. Statistics tell us that 50% of new teachers do not stay in the profession past three years. We know how critical it is that teachers find the support they need to succeed so they can stick around our schools and become the great teachers our students need and deserve!

I also spoke about using our teacher voice in the voting booth and during the legislative session. We must hold our lawmakers in Jackson accountable. We must demand raising the base salary to $40,000. We must demand MAEP be fully funded. We must demand a more secure contract renewal process.

We must ensure lawmakers know that Mississippi teachers expect our state’s leaders to show they support public education year in, year out. We are tired of our livelihood being treated as a political football. “Supported a teacher pay raise” looks good on a campaign ad, but we know it’s much more than that. We know that funding public education and supporting a teacher pay raise isn’t just about the dollars and cents: It’s an investment in the teachers, students, and communities of our state. It’s an investment in Mississippi’s future.

A special thank you to Dr. Anne Sylvest, MAE’s Student Advisor for the USM student local. Secondly, thank you to Uniserv Director Pam McLendon and Ms. Brenda Fenner, our part-time recruiter, for coordinating this great discussion!

RED FOR ED | Our next Red for Ed day is Wednesday, February 6, and we have a very exciting opportunity for our members!

Recruit three of your colleagues to join you in wearing red, and share the photo of yourself and your red-wearing friends on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Tag us, and be entered to win two tickets to the Mississippi Excellence in Education Awards gala!

Additionally, we’ll be joining our fellow pro-public education advocacy groups in wearing blue in support of Mississippi public schools during the legislative session. Keep an eye on Facebook for more information.

Have a fantastic rest of the week and let’s keep using that teacher voice, y’all!