Teachers at the Table. Learn How South Dakota Elevates Their Educators

group of teachers talking at the table

By Jasmine Estes 

State chiefs are elevating the voice of teachers into state policy discussions in a number of ways. For South Dakota Secretary of Education Melody Schopp, it’s a Teacher Table.

Teacher Table means exactly what it says -- giving teachers a seat with other leaders at the table in a state. Schopp focused her term as CCSSO Board President in 2016-17 on CCSSO’s equity commitment #8 – Value People: Focus on Teachers and Leaders—and used her platform to elevate the education profession. Before the end of her term, Schopp, piloted a Teacher Table in her state, a new way to make sure teacher voices are part of policy discussions that directly impact the classroom.

Teacher Tables are designed to bring together a variety of stakeholders in a state’s education system to study data on its teaching workforce and come up with ways to tackle its particular teacher recruitment and retention challenges.

Schopp and her team in South Dakota brought this vision to life. During their Teacher Table in October, they identified specific challenges within their state and strategized ways to solve those challenges. The discussion aimed to make sure:

-Teachers are included as a leading voice.
- Participants engage in a state-level data analysis to inform recruitment and retention issues.
- The work is responsive to local context, and a diverse group of stakeholders actively participate through measurable investments and commitments.
- National and local communities are engaged simultaneously, informing each other’s progress.

This model demonstrates how valuable teachers are having the conversations that will affect their profession, and the classroom. CCSSO supported South Dakota in hosting the Teacher Table and looks forward to working with other states that want to try this approach. Take a look at below. 


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