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Discussion Focuses on Creating Quality Teachers

Updated: 11/18/2013 11:11 PM
Created: 11/18/2013 10:52 PM KSTP.com
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) -- Education Minnesota kicked off their series of community conversations in Rochester Monday. The topic was quality teachers.

"We talk all the time about what we believe at Education Minnesota, this is a chance for us to listen and hear what other people are talking about," said Education Minnesota President Denise Specht. That's what brings her to Rochester, to hear what these people think makes a quality educator.

"I think we're doing great things in Rochester on some of the issues they're talking about. We have a ways to go but I think we are leaders in a lot of these things," said Century High School Teacher Kathryn Gardner. She's been a teacher for almost 25 years and says Rochester Public Schools are pretty up to speed when it comes to preparing their teachers. "Every new teacher in the district has a mentor that works with them and that's kind of a model of what a lot of other districts would like to do and we're doing it here," said Gardner.

Now, Gardner is an instruction coach for all of the teachers at Century High School, and it’s not just for the new ones. "I've had teachers that have been teaching for 25 years that will say 'hey I have this blind spot in my classroom, I need a little help looking at discipline’ or, ‘can you teach me this technology?' or something else, and so I’m working with them," said Gardner. Even as teachers gain experience, their students are always going to be about the same age, bringing with them a new generation of learning.

Those with Education Minnesota say it's discussions like this one that help them do their job. "It's far too challenging of a conversation to have with just one or two people. We want to have broad conversations, and that's what this is about," said Specht.

Monday's discussion is one of five Education Minnesota will be hosting across the state. They plan to share their findings with other districts and policy makers.