Leaders empowered, discuss SLOs, at 2014 Leadership Academy


"You’ve Always had the Power..."

2014 UEA Summer Leadership Academy

Did you know most teachers will be required to create Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) as part of Utah’s new educator evaluations? What do you know about them?

More than 100 teachers representing school districts from across the state gathered at the 2014 UEA Summer Leadership Academy to discuss SLOs and other ways teachers are ‘Taking the Lead’ in public education.

UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh began the conference by asking attendees what “Educators Taking the Lead” means to them, referring to the UEA’s teaching and learning initiative. “We don’t let others define who we are,” responded one participant. “We need to motivate others to see the importance of belonging to our association,” said another. Still others talked about the UEA Evaluation Toolkit and the opportunities it provides for creating conversations.

More than 20 UEA members and leaders participated as conference presenters. Presentations included (click for additional details):

Participant Comments: 

“I thought it was great how they broke it down so we weren’t overwhelmed. My favorite parts were the group discussions…(The sessions) helped us to empower the teachers at the local level and in the schools.”
Jody Holdaway, Ogden Education Association

“I really benefitted from (Summer Leadership Academy) because I heard some things that I otherwise wouldn’t have gotten. Even having good relationships with the teachers at my school, this was a different perspective…The teaming effort that we need to be doing as administrators with the UniServ is critical right now for our teachers…I feel very empowered as a leader to work with the DEA group and my faculty.”
Eve Bean, Davis Education Association

“I thought that we accomplished a lot and that we’re ready for the new school year and ready for the new training sessions. One (thing) that’s most immediately useful is to determine who our allies are. Another thing I’m looking forward to is more SLO training.”
Sue Hasenwinkel, Washington Education Association


Click on the following links for additional detailed information about the 2014 Summer Leadership Academy:

Here are a few highlights:

“Story of Self”

Presented by Davis Education Association President Don Paver, Vice President Yvonne Speckman and Executive Board member Roz Van Vleet

DEA President Don Paver shared his “story of self,” recounting how he became a political activist. “As a Utah, Mormon, Republican, I felt like my party left behind public education, and I couldn’t support their choice of candidates,” he said. “So when I was asked by NEA, I volunteered to help with President Obama’s re-election campaign.” When he shared his story with people in California and Nevada, he was surprised to receive a standing ovation. “I had been scared to tell my story, but I discovered that it was telling my story that allowed me to connect with people.”

In sharing her “story of self,” DEA Vice President Yvonne Speckman related that there were two things she always knew she wanted to do and that were important to her: being a teacher and being a mom. She shared how becoming a mom and a teacher has influenced her to become involved.

Paver and Speckman then discussed the importance of using our stories to move people from ‘stagnation’ to ‘motivation.’ “When sharing our stories, we need to talk from the head and the heart,” explained Paver. “We need both elements (to) move us to action. Stories help us feel the emotions that remind us of our values.”

“When you share your story, be specific,” noted DEA Executive Board member Roz Van Vleet. “Every story has a plot. Show rather than tell and make sure the outcome is clear.”

“It’s the telling of your story that matters,” concluded Paver. “There’s a line between therapy and being vulnerable.” He stressed that everyone should get comfortable with telling their story in under two minutes.

“I’ve Got the Power”

Presented by Jordan Education Association President Jennifer Boehme and Canyons Education Association Vice President Jen Jacobs

In keeping with the conference theme, Jordan Education Association President Jennifer Boehme and Canyons Education Association Vice President Jen Jacobs discussed ‘power.’

"Power comes from believing in one's own worth and abilities and the capacity to imagine and have hope," Boehme and Jacobs explained.  "The unique abilities, skills and talents of each individual are what shape his/her life.  What is your power?"

Jacobs talked about the kinds of power, including power ‘over,’ power ‘to,’ power ‘within’ and power ‘with.’ “This presentation is about how to find your power,” she said. “We can use our power to increase our visibility and then our visibility to increase our power.” Each person needs to identify their power and their role in advancing the visibility and goals of their local association, concluded Jacobs.

“Our Stories of Us and Now”

Presented by NEA State Director Ryan Anderson and Salt Lake Teachers Association President Susan McFarland

SLTA President Susan McFarland shared a story about her father who was an attorney and the first black mayor of their town. After seeing men treating her father with disrespect, she asked him why he put up with it. “I’ll never forget what he told me: ‘Respect has to be inside you and is something you will always carry.’” She then told of an experience with a former superintendent and how she insisted on and earned respect.

McFarland explained that through these types of stories we can invite others into a relationship, into our community and to take action.

As educators, we are responsible for advancing the knowledge of our students every day, sometimes with rudimentary tools,” said NEA State Director Ryan Anderson. I once thought retail was my future, but profit wasn’t my passion. I wanted to make a difference and I found it in teaching.”

“Our challenge is to redefine ourselves to be visible in all areas, including personal advocacy, teaching and learning and in becoming the experts on public education.” And it’s through our stories we can make this happen, he said.

“Setting the Stage”

Presented by UEA Director of Education Excellence Sara Jones and UEA Director of Policy and Research Jay Blain

“If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together” African proverb

UEA Director of Research Jay Blain shared a presentation showing the progression of the current educator evaluation system and an overview of Student Learning Objectives. According to Blain, his presentation will be packaged and available to share with all members later this fall.

Following Blain’s presentation, UEA Director of Education Excellence Sara Jones shared additional information about SLOs. “Utah code and State Board of Education rule require that each (school) district’s evaluation system, at a minimum, include observations of instructional quality, stakeholder input and evidence of student growth,” Jones said. “In tested subjects and grades, the student growth measure will include (a state-level standardized test). Non-tested subjects and grades will be assessed using Student Learning Objectives.”

SLOs are not required until the 2015-16 school year, so this upcoming year is an opportunity for UEA to prepare for SLO implementation by developing resources and training for local leaders, said Jones. She explained that the UEA received grants from the NEA to support UEA members with SLO training and resources.

“Empowering Members through SLOs”

Presented by Sevier Education Association President Curt Benjamin

“SLOs provide an opportunity for non-tested subjects to reassert their relevance,” SEA President Curt Benjamin told Leadership Academy attendees. He explained the importance of SLOs in putting students first, prioritizing standards and quantifying teacher impact on students.

“Teachers ought to be in control and SLOs are a step in empowering teachers,” he said, adding that “SLOs are important because (they represent) good teaching and help student improvement.” Benjamin also shared a Rhode Island video about implementing SLOs

“Three Components of SLOs”

Presented by UEA Director of Education Excellence Sara Jones and Utah State Office of Education SLO specialist Kerrie Naylor

The three components of SLOs are learning goals, assessment and targets, Naylor told attendees. “When SLOs are implemented properly, all subjects become important,” she said, adding that SLOs provide educators the opportunity to measure the learning of students.

Naylor explained that, in addition to measuring student growth and learning to apply to the contributions to educator evaluation, SLOs are important because they:

  • put student learning first;
  • prioritize key standards/enduring understandings;
  • improve the quality of student data use; and
  • make teacher impact on student achievement visible.

“Connecting SLOs to Teaching Standards”

Presented by UEA State Evaluation Leads Dessie Olson and Gay Beck

State SLO leads Dessie Olson and Gay Beck explained how to apply the practice of the Utah Teaching Standards to the work of SLOs. The outcome, they said, is to help educators recognize how and where teaching practice reflects the Teaching Standards through engaging in the SLO process.

The UEA provided numerous resources through the 2013-14 school year to help familiarize educators with the Standards, said Olson. Those resources included monthly Standards focus, 10-min meetings outlines, a resource video on conducting Standards meetings and articles in the monthly UEA Action e-newsletter.

“It is important that you share stories about how you are using the standards in your classroom,” said. Olson.

“The (Utah Teaching) Standards go hand in hand with SLOs,” added Beck. They asked each UniServ to develop a plan for including the Standards as part of the SLO process.

“Impacting District Decisions on SLOs”

Presented by Jordan Education Association President Jennifer Boehme and USOE SLO specialist Kerrie Naylor

The Utah State Office of Education has “tight” and “loose” SLO requirements, according to USOE specialist Kerrie Naylor. She discussed how decisions about SLOs are being made and how educators should be involved in those decisions.

Naylor shared a list of SLO guidelines with examples of “tight” requirements each school district MUST meet. Those include:

  • All students will be assessed using SAGE in tested subjects and grades and growth will be determined using student growth percentiles
  • Teachers in tested subjects and grades will receive aggregated student learning and growth results.
  • Teachers in non-tested subjects and grades will use SLOs to measure student growth and learning.
  • Teachers will implement two SLOs (or two measures of growth).
  • Administrators will approve SLOs and use SLO and student growth percentiles for educator evaluation.

“Loose” requirements, or those OPTIONAL for school districts, include:

  • Assessments may be developed for SLOs at the teacher, school or district level.
  • Administrators may use team leaders, department chairs, etc. to provide oversight of the SLOs being developed, prior to administrator final approval.
  • Districts may require educators in tested subjects and grades to implement SLOs.
  • Teacher collaboration and working within learning communities is encouraged.

JEA President Jennifer Boehme presented a flowchart of questions each local association should be asking about their Joint Educator Evaluation Committee (JEEC). Each association should make sure they are represented and an integral part of their district’s SLO activities, she said.

“Using Data to Organize and Build Leadership”

Presented by Weber Education Association President Barbera Wayment and Ogden Education Association President Ann Olsen

WEA President Barbera Wayment shared ideas for mapping a building, marking members and non-members and using the data to assist with membershipping efforts. She shared a plan for creating a rubric to determine membership potential.

Data should inform plans and goal setting, explained OEA President Ann Olsen. “We use data to help engage our members and to find potential members.”

After looking at all the data and what could be done with it, “I got overwhelmed thinking about doing all this,” Olsen said. “Luckily, (the UniServ director) was my voice of reason. He pointed out that I didn’t have to do it all myself. We have building reps and others who can help.”

View the “Using Data to Organize and Build Leadership” presentation (PDF)

“Relationships Rule!”

Presented by Washington Co. Education Association President Kathleen Cheshire, Vice President Amy Barton and incoming UEA Board member Kathryn Parry

“Relationships are so important for everything we do,” explained WCEA President Kathleen Cheshire. She urged educators to look at all the relationships, both internal and external, that help us to have power.


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