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The Spark - June 2021
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As we close the books on what has been one of the hardest school years of our lives, I want to express my deep appreciation and gratitude to you for your herculean efforts to support your students.
I am in awe of everything our teachers have done to keep our students inspired, keep families functioning and even keep our economy firing over this past year. You worked day and night to respond to all the twists and turns of the past year, and I know you put your heart and soul into engaging and supporting your students through learning remotely, through masks and even through plexiglass.
It has filled my heart to see some return to normalcy this spring with in-person graduation ceremonies, proms, concerts and field days. I know that May is always an incredibly busy time for teachers, but I do hope that the return to our traditions and rites of passage also brought you joy.
As we head into summer, my sincerest wish is that you each have the opportunity to rest, reflect and rejuvenate. After you take time to rest and reflect on your successes over this year, I hope you can think about all the things you learned and how they can enrich your practice moving forward. This year has been incredibly difficult, but there have been silver linings. We’ve learned new ways of connecting with our students and with each other, we’ve learned how to use technology more effectively to enhance student learning… and we’ve learned the benefits of grocery delivery! If you are looking for some additional ideas, CDE has created a new Learning Impacts Toolkit, organized around the themes of Reset, Reflect and Reimagines.
Summer always goes by too quickly, but I do hope you can enjoy some lazy days. And when you’re enjoying a long cup of coffee on a slow morning, or just sitting on a porch swing, think about all you accomplished this year that didn’t seem possible last summer.
You are incredible, and I can never thank you enough.
The recently launched educator licensing system is pretty cool – literally.
The COOL acronym stands for the easy-to-remember Colorado Online Licensing System. Designed with you, the teacher, in mind, this new system provides a streamlined application process and includes several new features, such as:
- A dashboard that displays the educator’s current credentials and the status of pending applications;
- Reminder emails for licensure renewal;
- Direct correspondence with the evaluator processing your application;
- Access to download/print certificate(s), add designations, and link to your Pepper account.
To make the transition to COOL as simple as possible, the Educator Licensing team has provided step-by-step user guides and video tutorials. These resources, as well as application checklists and more information, are available on the Educator Licensing webpage.
Kindergarten through third-grade teachers now will have until the start of the 2022-23 school year to complete a reading training requirement under the Colorado READ Act, after Gov. Polis signed House Bill 21-1129.
The legislation signed into law recently extends the deadline for K-3 teachers to complete the training in evidence-based reading, which is geared at improving reading among the state’s youngest students. The previous deadline for the training was Jan. 31, 2022.
The training will give teachers an opportunity to improve their teaching practices and better support students. Teachers who have already completed the training have said that it has made a difference in their ability to help students improve at reading.
As the 2021 legislative session winds down, education issues that affect teachers continue to make news. Here is some legislation that could interest teachers:
- HB 21-1087 – Teaching and Learning Conditions Survey. This bill authorizes educational support professionals who provide direct instruction, support licensed staff in an educational capacity, or support instruction and the learning environment to take the TLCC survey.
- HB21-1010 – Diversifying the Educator Workforce Report. This bill directs CDE and CDHE to create a report that, among other things, investigates the barriers to the preparation, retention, and recruitment of a diverse educator workforce. The report will also suggest strategies to increase diversity in the educator workforce.
- HB21-1221 – Bullying Prevention in Schools. The bill requires CDE to use a stakeholder process when updating the model bullying prevention and education policy. The process must include the parents of students who have been bullied. At a minimum, the model policy must clearly differentiate between a conflict and bullying and differentiate between harassment and bullying. The policy must also clarify the role of cyberbullying during online instruction, which may occur on or off school property.
- HB21-1133 – Seizure Training This bill creates strategic resources to provide a safer environment for K-12 students who have been diagnosed with a seizure disorder.
- HB21-1114 – Internet Service for Schools. This bill allows school districts to provide internet service to people associated with the district, such as students and teachers, without requiring a vote by the citizens.
- HB21-1104 - Professional Educator Licensure Renewal Period. This bill would extend the renewal period for professional educator licenses from five to seven years.
- HB21-1294 - K-12 Education Accountability Systems Performance Audit. This bill requires a performance audit of the statewide system of standards and assessments and the statewide accountability system.
- SB21-236 – Increasing Capacity for Early Childhood Care and Education. This bill would create grant programs for early childhood care and education to improve recruitment and retention rates for early childhood educators and improve salaries for educators.
- SB21-185 - Supporting Educator Workforce in Colorado. This bill allows a school district or charter school to employ someone who holds an adjunct instructor authorization to teach in all content areas. It also creates a new program that would allow participants to concurrently enroll in postsecondary courses in the two years directly following the year they were enrolled in the 12th grade if they are enrolled in the Teacher Recruitment Education and Preparation program. Finally, it creates the educator recruitment and retention program to provide support to members of the armed forces, nonmilitary-affiliated educator candidates, and local education providers to recruit, select, train and retain highly qualified educators across the state.
The Colorado Department of Education created a COVID-19 Learning Impacts Toolkit to help district and school leaders plan and implement strategies to address the impacts of lost instructional time on the learning and wellbeing of students over the past school year.
The toolkit provides a variety of new and existing strategies to help school and district leaders address the impacts of the pandemic on the learning and wellbeing of students and staff. The key themes of the toolkit are Reflect, Reset, Reimagine. CDE will continue to add resources to the toolkit over the next year to help district and school leaders adapt to the evolving needs of students.
Additionally, the toolkit is aligned with the Equity and Excellence Learning Series, which is an online event designed to catalyze conversations about resources and strategies. The event is spread out over June 16-17, June 23-24 and Aug. 4-6. District and school staff can follow this link to register. Capacity for the Learning Series is limited and CDE encourages timely registration. Registration will close at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 9.
- Denver educators reflect on past year; teaching during COVID-19 May 20, 2021. 9NEWS
- Colorado experts declare a youth mental health state of emergency, May 25, 2021, Chalkbeat Colorado
- Colorado schools plan for summer school, but is it the right solution for learning loss? May 3, 2021, Denver
Call or Text the CU Anschutz Well-Being Support Line (303-724-2500)
The goal of this support line is to help our community through the stress and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and focus on providing care and support for those impacted by this pandemic. The CU Anschutz Well-Being Support Line (303-724-2500) is a free service for healthcare workers and educators -- statewide.
The support line is available via call or text from 8 AM to 8 PM, seven days a week.