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Sunday, Sep. 25, 2016

Sioux Rapids teacher joins statewide task force

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Erin Olson, English teacher and Large Group Speech coach at Sioux Central High School, was selected by Jason Glass, director of the Iowa Department of Education, for the Teaching Standards Teacher Evaluation Task Force. Olson joined 19 other education professionals to discuss teaching standards, to be recommended for the 2013 legislative session.
Erin Olson is no stranger to task forces.

She's been on several, and currently serves on the Teaching Standards and Teacher Evaluation Task Force, a group of 20 area education professionals that gathered on Sept. 19 to recommend ways to improve teaching standards and teacher evaluations for the 2013 legislative session.

"I think, for a lot of teachers, the evaluation system seems to be something that happens at the end, instead of ongoing," Olson said. "It's not intended, and 99 percent of teachers in the field are doing what should be done. But we need to do something that allows all teachers to improve. Not just meeting a standard but exceeding a standard."

This task force is the implementation of Senate File 2284, which focuses on education reform.

"Even with what we came up with, we will have to revisit and redraft what will be seen by the legislators," Olson said. "No one said anything about getting rid of any standard. Our conversation wasn't radical, but what they decide is out of our hands."

Olson highlighted that all teachers, whether recently graduated or tenured, benefit through professional development.

"All of us can grow," she said. "I'm continually learning. Teachers are learners by nature."

Though this is not her first task force, she gladly participated.

"It's an honor to be asked," she said. "But with that honor, any honor, comes responsibility."

Olson sees the political ramifications from the task force's recommendations, though she is enthused at the educational atmosphere in Iowa.

"I see, in our state, a lot of enthusiasm about moving education forward," she said. "Where ideas differ is how that happens and what that looks like. It's important that teachers' voices are always part of that conversation."

She continued. "Educators are professional and work beyond the school day, improving, taking charge of their own professional development and participating in school-orchestrated development."

Olson is active in social networking, which further allows her to share her voice on education and education reform.

Two years ago, Olson was contacted by a reporter from the New York Times who read a tweet about her students "backchanneling" the assassination of Osama Bin Ladin. The story was published on the front page.

"I know that my opinion has been seen," she said. "I model to my students what it means to be professional online."

She continued. "As professionals, we need to voice our opinion to our legislature. If we don't, who will?"

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