CTE Teachers Share Experiences With MTAC
Amanda Wood and Billy Carroll
The Mississippi Teacher Advisory Council meets via Zoom in March.
When the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) announced the addition of more than 100 experienced teachers and professionals to the Mississippi Teacher Advisory Council (MTAC) in August, the new additions included two career and technical education (CTE) engineering teachers: Pontotoc’s Amanda Wood and Moss Point’s Billy Carroll.
Launched in 2016, the MTAC now features almost 400 educators representing schools from across the state and a variety of content areas, including arts, CTE, general education and special education. The council provides feedback to Dr. Carey Wright, the state superintendent of education, on the initiatives of the MDE, the Mississippi State Board of Education (SBE) and the Mississippi State Legislature.
“It really gives the MDE and Dr. Wright a more holistic view of the state and the challenges and successes that we experience in our classrooms,” Wood said.
Since many of those experiences are different for CTE educators, Carroll said serving in the group is a good opportunity to provide feedback directly on how these initiatives affect success as a CTE instructor.
The council’s goal “to empower teachers to discuss topics critical to their success” could not have been better stated for its work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The group moved normal meetings to Zoom and continued pursuing its priorities.
“There were certainly issues we knew we were going to have when school started in August, but when your boots are on the ground and you are actually in the trenches, there are things that you didn’t think about initially, including how to meet the needs of every student and, in some cases, learning a brand-new learning management system,” Wood said.
The MTAC helped fill the void across Mississippi with teachers sharing resources and knowledge to support one another as well as presenting concerns directly to Wright. It continues to provide professional development opportunities to its members that representatives can share with their colleagues.
“There is a question-and-answer session at the end of every meeting, and one of the main concerns that arose during the pandemic was how to reach special needs students,” Wood said. “Some of the school districts [throughout the academic year] taught online. Connecting with students was a real concern.
“One of the awesome things our state did was provide Chromebooks or similar technology to every student, and — I don’t believe everyone has internet access yet — but that is where we are moving to. We’re trying to get there,” she added.
Appointment to the council also provided an opportunity for Carroll and Wood to appreciate resources they may have otherwise missed and take them back to their colleagues, including online textbook access and others made available by the MDE.
“I didn’t realize that there is a new television channel with pre-recorded lessons that are aligned to state standards. I thought that was really great, especially for virtual or hybrid students to get what they need without having to meet online at a certain time,” Wood said.
In addition to the resources, Carroll said “(Wright) has been very good about communicating important issues” that the council can take back and discuss with the fellow instructors in their districts.
While the MTAC is beneficial to the teachers, it is just as important to the MDE. Wright said, “Over the last four years, I have greatly valued the feedback from teachers across this state through our meetings. The MDE has provided professional development opportunities, resources and changes in policy based in part on conversations I’ve had with members of the MTAC.
“I look forward to hearing from our new members as we work collaboratively on behalf of students,” she added.