Are teachers treated as professionals? Possibility for an NSELA Survey

Posted: September 4, 2019

Updates from NSELA Board of Directors

Our Executive Team and Board of Directors are back in the swing of things having meetings and making decisions for a successful 2019-2020

August Board of Directors highlights:

  • We welcomed new names and faces to the board:

    • Betsy Barent Region E 

    • Mark Case Region C

    • Brian Kruse Nominations and Elections

    • Brian Carey Affiliates (second term!)

    • Kim Feltre (Membership)

    • Mary Loesing Region A

  • Discussion of connecting with our “state -SELA’s” - these are the affiliates of NSELA which have not have a formal connection with NSELA.  We would be able to provide a national voice, some coherence to the groups of leaders, and they would gain the “nuts and bolts” of what we already pay for from Civica that we could share with them (e.g. website, registration, connection to our network of speakers, etc.).  A win win! 

  • Our Summer Leadership Institute location was decided: Austin, Texas, from July 7-11 at the Omni Southpark.

    • Our Professional Development Committee - led by Elizabeth Mulkerrin, will be working on the agenda.

  • The 2020 OASA and OLISE Awards will be posted by the end of September once we confirm sponsors.

    • We recognize that most of us did not get here, as leaders, alone.  Please considering nominating someone transformational to your professional life for one of these prestigious awards. 

  • Please consider joining a committee or running for office of NSELA - we would love to have you more involved on our team.  If you have questions, contact me.  

Are teachers treated as professionals? Possibility for an Informal NSELA Survey

As I was planning to support teachers for summer professional learning and summer curriculum work in my school district last summer, I realized that within my colleagues (curriculum specialists from many content areas) we have personal differences on how we view teacher pay for additional work.  This leads to a bigger question, so I wanted to bring this up to you - NSELA membership - assuming if I had this question, you may have it too - to see where the “nation” lies on this issue.  

Possible issues with teacher professionalism:

  • Shortage of teachers (Out of field teachers)

  • Teacher Pay

  • Teacher Training, “Most full-time employees in the private sector receive training on company time at company expense. Teachers seeking to advance must earn higher degrees or certifications on their own time.” HERE

  • Performance of the U.S. education system compared to the rest of the top performing countries

  • Teacher perceptions of self - do they say, “I am JUST a teacher…” ?  

What has been done recently to address this?

  • President of the Southern Regional Education Board, Stephen Pruitt spoke at our recent NSELA Summer Leadership Institute on, “Science and the Big Picture” - where he advocated for teachers as professionals.  Stephen and Roger Bybee’s book, “Perspectives on Science Education: A Leadership Seminar” (2017) goes into much more depth on the topic.

  • Out of Field Teaching Conference Meeting Spring of 2019 - attended by our NSELA Treasurer Ann Hammersly 

  • What else?  Please email me… 

What could NSELA do? 

I am going to work with NSELA Executive Committee and Board of Directors to consider a brief survey to address to get a picture of how we currently treat teachers as professionals back home in our districts, regions, or states.  From what comes back, maybe our NSELA baseline could be used immediately or be a call to action to develop a position statement. I also envision uses ranging from:

  • refer to the NSELA data in local conversations about teacher professionalism 

  • as we prepare to provide programs for PK-12 teachers, things to consider for teacher compensation

  • as we ask teachers to do additional summer work, things to consider for teacher compensation

  • as we advocate for ourselves (teachers) to be better supported in our learning

Thank you for reading this update - and I hope to see you over Zoom (webinar, board committee work) or in person at one of our upcoming professional learning opportunities.   Please contact me anytime with questions.


James Blake, Ed.D.

2019-2020 NSELA President

James Blake, Ed.D. is the K-12 Science Curriculum Specialist at Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) in Lincoln, Nebraska.  He held multiple science state leadership roles as State Director of Science Education for the Nebraska Department of Education and Nebraska Director of Science Olympiad.   Follow Dr. Blake on Twitter: @lpssci @drjblakesci @lnkse @nselascience or email: [email protected]