Teachers gain valuable information about leading their profession, assessment literacy at 2015 UEA Summer Leadership Academy


2015 UEA Summer Leadership Academy

- Materials and resources used during the 2015 UEA Leadership Academy

Teachers are the architects of the change we’ve been looking for.

2012 National Teacher of the Year Rebecca Mieliwocki  
(quoted by Utah Governor Gary Herbert’s education advisor Tami Pyfer at the 2015 UEA Summer Leadership Academy)  

About 170 teachers representing school districts from across the state gathered at the 2015 UEA Summer Leadership Academy to discuss assessment literacy and other ways teachers are taking the lead in public education.

Leadership Academy is a multi-day workshop is designed for state and local leaders to receive training on leadership skills, capacity building, important issues facing UEA members and other relevant topics. The 2015 UEA Summer Leadership Academy was held June 15-16 at the Davis Conference Center in Layton.

Opening Session: Tami Pyfer

Participant Comments: 

“This was my first SLA. I found it overwhelming, but I also feel passionate about going back to my local association and lighting the fire in them.”

“UniServ planning time was so valuable!”

“Tami Pyfer, Sharon and Lisa are all inspirational. I feel welcomed and supported as a new local president.”

“This was the best Summer Leadership ever! Great ideas and energy. Lots of new voices and the (Teacher Leader Initiative) people were awesome.”

“Thank you for filling my bucket!”

“It was great! I got lots of ideas as an AR that I can do to make members in my school feel like our local is important to them and that they are valued as well.”

“As always, well worth my time.”

“All so valuable.”

Tami Pyfer, education advisor to Utah Governor Gary Herbert, kicked off the training by discussing what she called the “false narrative” surrounding Utah public education.

False narratives outlined by Pyfer included:

  • Parents are unable to understand anything other than a single letter grade for schools – Pyfer explained that the Governor’s PACE progress report gives a much “richer, more descriptive and more understandable” snapshot of what’s happening in a school than the current single-grade model.
  • What we measure improves – “I measure myself on the scales every day and nothing seems to improve,” said Pyfer. Simply measuring does nothing without the planning and resources needed to make improvements, she explained.
  • School grading exposes how unprepared students are for college – “Only one in four Utah students are fully prepared” for college, according to the current narrative, said Pyfer. But that narrative falls short when further compared with other college-readiness data, which show a far greater number of students are prepared for the rigors of post-secondary education.
  • Privatization will improve school services – According to Pyfer, there is little evidence to show that privatization alone will do anything to improve student learning.

“It is important that we combat the current false narrative about public education,” said Pyfer. Reasons she gave for changing the narrative include the fact that the narrative is false, that it’s not good for students and that it “distracts us from legitimate challenges” facing public education.

“We are not going to legislate our way to a better school system,” she said. Pyfer encouraged educators to invite policymakers, legislators and community leaders into schools; invite participation in a meaningful way; talk about our successes; use local, state media; engage in social media; become engaged in the political process; and to challenge myths and misconceptions.

In a question-and-answer session following Pyfer’s presentation, UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh said it’s time to “throw open the doors to our classrooms and show that we can lead our profession.” She added that it is “time for us to take our power back. Now is not the time for modesty.”

Assessment Literacy

The first afternoon of Summer Leadership Academy featured a focus on Assessment Literacy training. Attendees separated into role-alike groups to receive training prepared by an Assessment Literacy Team comprised of teachers from across the state.

The Assessment Literacy Team has prepared a series of five presentations to be shared with UEA members statewide, including training modules on assessment design, data-driven instruction, differentiated assessment, effective student feedback and self assessment. Those who attended Leadership Academy are now prepared to take those modules back to members in their locals.

The trainings are an effort to improve instruction for UEA members. Materials and resources used during the assessment literacy training are available on the UEA Members-Only Website (login required).

Teacher Leadership Initiative

Gallagher-Fishbaugh introduced the Utah teachers involved in the NEA’s Teacher Leadership Initiative (TLI). These teachers became involved because of “their inherent belief that they have the power they can make a change,” according to Gallagher-Fishbaugh. “They moved to action. They didn’t just sit back and let it happen to them.”

A video, produced by UEA Vice President Tom Nedreberg, showed TLI participant teachers discussing their involvement in the process.

Educational Tracks

Five separate educational tracks were offered to Leadership Academy participants. Attendees could select from the following sessions, based on their association position and interest:

  • Governance (Elected Leaders) – This track focused on providing help for elected leaders. Jordan Education Association President Jennifer Boehme and UEA UniServ Coordinator Jay Blain shared ideas for leadership best practices, governance/staff roles and responsibilities and budget and fiduciary responsibilities.
  • Membership Mind Set – Granite Education Association President Susen Zobel and UniServ Directors Star Orullian and Nikki Peterson showed how for the past 10 years they have led the way in Utah for membership increases. “Everything we do, every decision we make, every dollar we spend is viewed through the lens of how it will affect membership,” said Zobel. Sessions explained how Granite’s philosophy that the association representative is the key to their success in gaining and keeping members fit into their year-round membership plan.
  • Online Resources, PR & Messaging – Presenters, including Canyons Education Association President Ross Rogers, Washington Education Association Vice President Amy Barton, and UEA Communications and Public Relations Director Mike Kelley, showed ways to increase the visibility and online presence of local associations and UniServs. They discussed ideas for increasing social media, how to create a Local/UniServ website and how to share messages in the online world.
  • Political Action – People outside of education make some of the most important decisions impacting teachers and students. UEA Board Member Jim Griffin and UEA Director of Government Relations Chase Clyde provided ideas for how to more effectively influence decisions and decision makers. They discussed ways teachers can elevate themselves as experts in the eyes of policymakers at all levels.
  • The Power of One – This track was designed for teachers who want to become more deeply involved in their association and in their profession. Weber Education Association member and Teacher Leader Initiative participant Joe Burke discussed NEA’s leadership competencies and facilitated discussions on how teachers have taken the lead on improving areas of concern and/or passion in the arenas of instruction, policy and the association itself.

Materials and resources used during these educational tracks are available on the UEA Members-Only Website (login required).


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