‘Constantly Learning’: Oklahoma Educators Gather in Midwest City for Conference Amid Teacher Shortage

KOKH - July 12, 2023 6:58 am

Educators around the Sooner State gathered in Midwest City on Monday, July 10 for a teacher’s conference.

At the Reed Conference Center, there were vendors and separate rooms. There, teachers learned things like how to manage a classroom.

Educators tell Fox 25 these things are very important to learn while the labor shortage continues.

“Teachers never take a break during the summer,” Okmulgee Public Schools teacher Amy Johnson said. “We’re constantly learning, and trying to better ourselves. We’re seeing what we need to do for the next year.”

The Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) offered a free, one-day conference called InspireOK 2023. Educators went into breakout sessions, one of which talked about leadership skills.

“I learned some things just so I could amp myself up in the classroom,” Johnson said. “Not just with the students, but with my colleagues as well because we all work together.”

Vendors presented their opportunities to teachers, some of which belong to districts that are struggling to fill positions.

“In my district we have two science teachers,” Johnson said. “I’m a science teacher, and it’s extremely difficult. Extremely difficult. We’re unable to offer our students some of the courses and classes they need.”

Some participants say hiring more employees would allow them to bring more things they learned today into the classroom.

“You could be more flexible with your time,” Oklahoma City Public Schools teacher Kandis Griffin said. “You could do more innovative, hands-on experiences with the kids. They love those things.”

Resulting in a better experience for students.

“We realistically spend more time in a day with those students than their families do,” Griffin said. “We are their second home. In a lot of cases we have to feed students, bring them in and deal with the social challenges they’re coming in the doors with.”

A surprise at this year’s event: the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) wasn’t a sponsor.

OEA President Katherine Bishop provided Fox 25 with the following statement:

On June 13th, OEA was contacted by the OSDE about sponsorship for the upcoming OSDE Inspire OK professional development day to be held on Monday, July 10th at the Reed Conference Center. OEA submitted a commitment to sponsorship prior to the June 26th deadline and found out on June 28th that the OSDE leadership team had denied OEA’s application. While OEA will not be a sponsor this year of the OSDE Inspire OK, OEA will continue to support its members and all public educators with meaningful and relevant professional learning opportunities.

 

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