UEN Homeroom

Teacher Retention with Kami Dupree and Heidi Matthews

Episode Summary

In this episode of UEN Homeroom, Dani and Matt are joined by Kami Dupree from the Utah State Board of Education (USBE) and Heidi Mattews with the Utah Education Association(UEA) to discuss teacher retention in Utah. Listen to learn more about how these two groups define teacher retention and how, through their data collection, they're creating initiatives to address the teacher retention issue in our schools.

Episode Notes

In this episode of UEN Homeroom, Dani and Matt are joined by Kami Dupree from the Utah State Board of Education (USBE) and Heidi Mattews with the Utah Education Association(UEA) to discuss teacher retention in Utah. Listen to learn more about how these two groups define teacher retention and how, through their data collection, they're creating initiatives to address the teacher retention issue in our schools.

Episode Transcription


Hi, Matt.

Hi, Dani.

How are you?

I'm doing great. I'm excited about what we're talking about today. It's a topic that we've been kind of bouncing around for, like, almost six months.

Absolutely. Today we're talking about teacher retention, which is something that is an issue across the nation, but it's definitely an issue here in Utah as well.

Absolutely. It's one of those things that I think anybody who's involved with education has got in the back of their mind as one of those things we all worry about. How do we keep the amazing teachers that we love in the field? And then how do we engage new teachers to come into the field as well and keep them excited and upwardly mobile throughout their careers?

Absolutely. I think we've kind of just hit one challenge after another in education. I remember talking about the decline in students interested in being a teacher when we saw a dip in people signing up for education programs in colleges. And this was even before the dreaded pandemic.

So I think-- I think it's something that has been a perennial issue. But it's kind of ramped up these last couple of years.

Absolutely. And I'm excited about the two guests we have today to talk about this. We're going to start out with Kami Dupree, who is from USB and specializes in surveys and data collection for the board, and she has some amazing things to tell us about how that data is collected and then how we can access that data and look at it for ourselves as community members and educators.

And afterward, we have Heidi Matthews, our current UEA president. And she's going to talk about the efforts that UEA is bringing to legislative sessions across statewide outlets and all sorts of things that they're doing to help retain teachers across the state.

We have some heavy hitters here to talk with us today. We're pretty lucky.

Exactly. Let's jump right into Kami's interview.


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All right. We are so lucky to have Kami Dupree from the Utah State Board of Education helping us out here to kind of look at and decipher some of the Utah-specific data on teacher retention. So Kami, welcome. Thanks for joining us.

Thanks. Thanks for having me.

Our first question for you is that teacher retention and recruitment is a perennial concern for LEAs and schools across the state. How does USBE monitor teaching retention, and what does teacher-- what about teacher recruitment across the state?

That's a good question. And unfortunately, I wish we had better mechanisms for doing that because teacher retention is kind of a tricky thing to capture. You have to think about lots of different components, right?

And one of the things that we-- most of that data is stored within our credentialing system, which is within cactus. And a lot of that data we can track from year to year, teachers who maybe had an assigned role in one year but don't in another year. But of course, that doesn't tell us, necessarily, where they are, right?

So a teacher might be working one year and take a year off to go back to school or to-- and we don't know that. And so while the retention data will be based-- the numbers will be based solely on those teachers who are in an assignment one year and not in the next year, the retention information that we have, that number hides probably the more important data.

And that is, where did they go, or what are they doing? Or where did they leave to? And that information we try to capture a little bit more deeply in the annual exit survey data that's given. Throughout all of the state, schools and districts are to administer an exit survey to any teacher who leaves their present assignment.

But that, of course, is voluntary-- we don't mandate or force anybody to answer those questions. And so the return on that isn't necessarily always representative of 100% of the teachers who leave the state either. But yeah, the tracking of the data gets a little bit tricky and can be a challenge at times. But I think, when you're talking about retention, one of the more important things to focus on is the why and not just the what.

I absolutely love that. I love that you're talking about the exit surveys and kind of getting into that because I think that's one of those features of data collection, maybe at the state level, about teaching that not many people know about, until they leave the field, what that survey goes into.

But I'm curious, other than the exit survey, what other data does USB collect from schools and LEAs and maybe even individual educators to help establish a picture of individual schools and teacher retention throughout the year, things like maybe a climate survey or these exit surveys as well?

Yeah, so the legislature has required that in alternating years. So in 20-- this year we offered what's called an engagement survey. And then that alternates in every other year. So next year that will be a school climate survey.

And those two surveys sort of piggyback off of each other year after year. And the school climate survey is really a much broader instrument that's administered to parents, to students, to school administrators, and school personnel, to really kind of get a picture of what's happening in schools, and how are people's perceptions about what's happening in their particular local schools evolving and changing over time, and what kind of trends maybe are apparent in that data.

So that's a big task, as you can imagine, trying to get data from pretty much anybody who has an arm or a leg in education throughout the entire state. I don't oversee that survey. So I'm not able to speak directly to how that data has been used in the past.

But the engagement survey is administered in alternating years with that, this is the second year that we've administered that survey. So the initial administration was the 2019-2020 school year, which we all know was a very interesting year. And then the pandemic kind of threw everybody for a loop at the end of that year.

And so the data that we got back from that initial administration was a little bit of a challenge to decipher because the window for the administration had been open for some time. And so people had taken it before they were sent home for the pandemic. Their perceptions maybe were a little different than after they had been sent home for the pandemic.

So we made some revisions to that instrument, and we're excited. We just finished the administration this year, for this year's survey. And we tried to craft that instrument to give us some of the information I referred to earlier, in terms of, what is happening in schools, and why are people engaged in their communities?

How do teachers-- what do they appreciate about their environments? What do they-- what are their perceptions about leaders in their schools? What are their perceptions about their abilities to move up within their profession? Do they see opportunities for career growth?

That was one of the interesting results from our first administration was that something like 87% of our educators said that they had career goals, which indicates that they have something that they want to do to grow professionally. But only 47% of them said that they saw a path to that growth, to reach those goals.

And so that was an indicator that even though our educators perhaps have things they want to accomplish, they're not often always able to see the road that leads from here to there. And so speaking about retention, that could be one of the contributing factors in terms of teachers leaving, say, even just to become administrators, right? That's, to grow in my profession, the next step up is to be an administrator.

And so the engagement survey helps us to kind of zone in or hone in a little bit tighter on some of the specifics related to what teachers are frustrated about, what they're satisfied about, and generally how they feel about their work.

We also included in this administration-- it was not part of the first administration. But in this new instrument, we'll also have some data coming back to us from our newer educators related to their experiences with mentoring. The board's strategic plan does talk about making sure that all of our beginning teachers have access to a qualified mentor.

And so we added some questions in there to route teachers who are newer to the profession through those and to give us some idea and sense of the effectiveness of mentoring efforts on helping to retain teachers. So again, that data-- we just finished collecting that at the end of March. So as you can imagine, again, statewide, we're trying to clean up all that data and begin the analysis of it here in the next couple of weeks.

Thanks, Kami. You said something about how the last time or the first time this engagement survey was offered was during that fateful COVID school year. But all of the data since COVID, it's going to be skewed, right?

Because we are living in a completely different world, it feels like, than we were in kind of the before time. So I know you don't have all the data scrubbed for everything. But as far as trends that you're seeing since COVID, are the reasons that teachers are leaving different than they were before the COVID year?

Yeah, I would say I don't think they're different in a broad sense. What the first administration taught us was that the most common reason teachers were leaving the profession was burnout. Of course, a lot goes into that, right?

Burnout for me may look different from burnout-- from burnout for another teacher. And burnout in elementary is certainly attributable to different factors than burnout in secondary. And so I think if you were to ask any teacher leaving the profession whether or not they're burnt out, I think you get an overwhelmingly positive response on that, yes. Yes, I'm burned out because teaching is a very difficult profession and a difficult job day today.

There are lots of positives that come with it. But it can be emotionally taxing, right? Oftentimes in other professions, I can leave my work behind, I can go home, and I have a separate life outside of the school building. That doesn't happen, right?

Teachers are 100% of the time, 24/7, they're always thinking about what they should be doing in their classes and what's going on with their students. And so burnout is a broad classification that I think has been consistent pre- and post-COVID.

But I think where the differences are and where I kind of have my questions and wonderings are, what contributes even to that burnout? So once again, I say, when we initially administered some of these instruments, all we were able to do is zero-in on that burnout.

We're hoping from this new instrument, we've provided some opportunity for folks to provide clarification as to, what does that mean to you? If you're saying burnout is a major reason why you're leaving, help us understand what you mean when you're referencing that term. So I think we'll get some better insight that maybe helps us understand.

But I don't anticipate that we'll be surprised by anything that teachers say because I think we all have a pretty good understanding of how challenging the work is. But it will be interesting to see how those responses differ.

Why are-- I've known new teachers who leave the field because it just was more than I thought I was getting into, whereas older teachers, I've just done this forever, and I can't do one more big change, which COVID certainly was. So do those reasons differ across even subgroups of teachers is another interesting question. And we hope to get some clarity around that here in the next month or two.

That's amazing. And I'm excited to see that data come out and, like, for me personally to go through it and then understand more thoroughly because like you just said, burnout is one of those things that is common, but it's very much almost individualized in how it exhibits itself in the person. So I really am excited to see that as well.

When we can-- just kind of thinking about the larger kind of global scope or the national scope of teacher burnout and teachers leaving the field, how does Utah compared to other states? Are we losing more or less teachers every year? And is there something that we can attribute that difference to, either positively or negatively?

Yeah, I wish I had the most up-to-date data. But the data that I saw about a year ago, actually, indicated that we were faring much better than many of our partner states across the nation. And I can't-- this is just Kami's opinion, but I would attribute that, really, in large part to the response of our educational community and our governor within the realm of the pandemic, and our efforts to get kids back in classrooms as quickly as possible and to try to return to regular schooling.

We kept saying, return to normal. I don't know what normal is any more. And I doubt that we've returned to that. But getting back to some semblance of order, and something that teachers could work with and be comfortable with, and that students were back and engaging with one another.

I think the efforts of our government and our educational professionals to do that and to communicate throughout the system effectively and efficiently, it certainly didn't come without challenges by any means. But I do think it helped teachers feel like they were part, again, of a bigger system, leaning on each other and working together. And hopefully, that helped keep folks engaged a little bit longer.

Now, where that will fall over the next couple of years remains to be seen. Maybe the fallout of-- it took us a while to see the fallout from the health aspects of COVID. We may still see some fallout from the educational pieces of that as well in the next year or two.

But certainly, I think our response to the pandemic was different than many other states, to our credit, I believe. And I also think we have a stronger family focus in this state that helps us to keep an eye on our kids and what's best for students.

I love how you said that you're not even sure what normal is anymore. I think that's how a lot of us are feeling. [LAUGH] A lot of educators as well. Just to give our listeners a better idea of how the data is used, we're wondering about, how will your data on engagement, the tool that you used this year, how will it be used and filtered down to individual LEAs?

And if a community member, you know, someone listening to this wanted to better understand how teacher retention is achieved through the survey, what would you-- what would you advise for them to look at? Which pieces of the survey?

Yeah, there's a couple of pieces of that. So to answer that question, I'll explain a little bit about how the survey kind of is administered and how that works. I'll try not to get too technical, but there's one survey, one instrument, and that is pushed out through a platform called Qualtrics, which is just a data collection software.

And we push that survey to all of the schools, all of the districts, and then the districts and the schools disseminate that through their own Canvas account or their own Qualtrics accounts. So each school or district has a unique Qualtrics account unique to their local LEA. And they pull that survey instrument in.

They distribute it to their teachers, and the data from their LEA then flows back into their accounts and into ours. And so every LEA actually has their own summary of how their teachers responded to the items on that engagement survey. So in theory, you could go to any district or any charter school leadership and say, hey, I'd like to have some insight on how our teachers responded to this instrument. And they should be able to provide that information or have access to that information.

All of that data flows to USBE through our Qualtrics account. And so when USBE takes the data, we're actually trying to summarize across the state. And the last time I had looked at the numbers, we had pretty good response rate. We had about a third of the teachers who are registered in CACTUS, and about a third of them had responded to the survey. That amounted to somewhere in the neighborhood of about 12,000 to 13,000 teachers who responded to that survey. So we try to take that data and do various sorts of analyses on it.

We work with our data and statistics department to look for trends in the data, see if there are correlations between how people answered one question or another question, and really try to-- then our role at USBE is to take that statewide data. And we typically will generate a summary report that's made available on our website and also reported to the legislature in or around November of the corresponding year as well.

And then from there, right, the legislature can take that information and choose to draft bills related to the things that are referenced in the survey. And I'll just say our own state board has requested some information in this arena. As of this morning, actually, I got the notice that they wanted to get some more information on what we're doing with regards to teacher retention, teacher leadership, and teacher mentoring. So that information will be forwarded to our board at some point as well once we get all that data gathered. But really, our role is to give it to the decision-makers and allow them to make the decisions.

Amazing. And I think I speak for so many people when I say thank you for collecting the data and cleaning it for all of us so that we can understand the bigger picture surrounding teacher retention, climates in schools, and just generally what's happening in our schools at kind of a global scale. And thank you so much for your time today, Kami. We really appreciate your hard work in joining us today.

No problem. It's great to be here.

Thanks, Kami.


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All right, it was great hearing from Kami. I think hearing about how data is collected and what is done with the data helps us to understand a bigger part of this whole teacher retention issue.

Absolutely. I think a lot of times even I as a teacher, but then when we talk about community members, maybe even legislators and decision-makers, we forget that there's so much data at our fingertips nowadays to really see the whole picture of what's going on and to really dive in and see what the picture is. And I'm really appreciative of this conversation that we had with Kami but also the conversation we're having coming up with Heidi to talk a little bit about how they collected data at UEA and what kind of programs they have going on there.

You're exactly right. So we talked about what is with Kami, and now let's talk about Heidi about what is being done. Let's listen in.

Today we have a fantastic guest with Heidi Matthews, the UEA president. We're so excited to have you here to talk about a subject that's headlined across the country, sometimes even global headlines, which is teacher retention and keeping teachers in the classroom and excited in the field. To start off with, many educators are saying that despite the difficulties in the 2020-2021 school year, the 2021-2022 school year has been the most challenging year teachers have faced. What are some of the most difficult challenges that you've heard, and what are some of the things that teachers are saying have made this year so difficult?

Well, thank you again so much for having me, and I always want to take the opportunity to talk about why the Utah Education Association exists. And we exist for the promise of public education and all that entails. And that means tending to the working conditions of educators that are the learning conditions of our students because students' success is the heart.

And so this topic is so, so important for us to listen to. You talk about the 2021-'22 school year, which I absolutely agree has been one of the most challenging for our educators across the state. But, you know, we didn't get to this place overnight.

And we have been facing a teacher shortage or what we like to call an educator exodus for a very long time. And it's coming to a reckoning. It's really hitting us hard, particularly as we work through what is hopefully the tail end of this pandemic and really tend to the challenges that have been exacerbated during this time, the challenges and the inequities.

What I heard from our members across the state-- we have 18,000 members and, again, the UEA as the voice while they're-- the voice of our profession while our people are in the classrooms doing the work. But I hear them say over and over, there is just not enough time.

There's not enough time to plan to support the many needs of our students-- again, this exacerbated both during the pandemic. And that's both social, and emotional well-being, and academic needs. There's just not enough time with-- what we are seeing is continued accountability testing expectations on workload of our educators that have not been decreased.

In fact, they've been chugging along and increasing without the levels of support that we need, time for a work-life balance, which is so essential in everything we do. For people to be able to be the best that they can be in their classroom, they must have that time to recharge and the important relationships in their family in that.

And then time and opportunity for professional autonomy. The people who have been professionally trained in the classrooms, we have a level of expertise that needs to be respected. And to be able to make those decisions about what they know a student needs in order to succeed is really important. And that comes with placing our trust and respect in the educators who are in our classrooms.

Absolutely, Heidi. I couldn't agree more. I'm wondering, have you seen anyways the LEAs and lawmakers have made some positive policy changes to help mitigate some of the challenges that we're seeing?

So, absolutely. In fact, I am happy to say that according to the NEA rankings and estimates that just came out a couple of weeks ago, Utah ranks fourth in the country for the percent growth in per-pupil funding, which is fantastic. And I don't want to diminish that in any way because when we talk about funding in public education, it's really funding human resources. It's more adults in our schools, which brings down our classrooms. It's more counselors and social workers and school librarians and reading specialists that get that individual attention to each and every student.

And that's a pretty significant expense. So we have seen some significant investments. But we've been at the bottom of the barrel for per-pupil spending for a very long time. Two years ago, we excitingly passed Idaho. But we have a long way to go.

And having that trajectory is significant, but we have to continue to invest in or expect those investments on our state's part and also our local school districts. Our school districts are doing so much, what they can do to help support educators. We've seen some really creative things happening with making sure we have substitutes in the classroom, that we have-- that they embed time for professional learning or just getting caught up. I've heard of no-meeting Wednesdays or different things that really do add up for our educators in the classroom to feel like they can stay on top of things and be supported.

That's amazing, and it's always good to hear that positive progression, like you're talking about, where we're moving forward and doing more funding, but also, like, blackout meeting days and things like that. We're really interested in LEAs and their connection to helping the emotional well-being of educators. What are some ways that you've seen educators and LEAs institute changes that help provide better emotional health in schools, both for students and for the educators in those schools?

Oh, wow. It's been quite-- it's been quite a time. And I'm sure that we are all still experiencing and continue to experience some of the fallouts from being in a global pandemic and all the pressures that brought-- as educators, we know that our students can't learn if they are hungry or hurting or feel unsafe. And all of those circumstances have been intensified in the pandemic.

And there is a great pressure, an enormous pressure, to address academics and learning. And there's also a lot of pushback like we've got to address these needs first before that can occur. I think there has been a significant focus on our students and getting more counselors into our schools.

There have been some great initiatives that have improved that. We at UEA have hosted a number of trauma-informed practices and addressing those so our students can learn and thrive. But I think that the focus on educator well-being is something that we really need to have a work in progress. You know, it's like, here's a muffin for Teacher Appreciation Week. And oh, by the way, make sure those grades are in by midnight on Sunday.

We've got to find ways to show appreciation in ways that directly impact what our educators or teachers are telling us that they need. And it's varied. Some people really need-- some of our teachers, they need to be able to turn off their phones and have a full weekend of recharging. Others, you know, like, let's just let me sleep for six hours a night. And we can do that.

So I think we've got a lot of work to do to continue to show that to show that level of appreciation. And that's why this focus on teacher retention is so important right now because we don't have a bench. And when a teacher leaves the school or there isn't a sub, it's the people who are sticking around that are holding it together. And it's really hard. And in some cases, it's just not sustainable. So we have to really focus on our educator well-being.

You know, I think you made a point that's really true. There isn't a bench of just, like, teachers ready to go when someone is unable to teach. And I think the substitute shortage really hurts the teachers that are sticking around because they feel that added pressure of not being able to take a day off if they actually need it.


So tell us a little bit about the survey that UEA does every year about the climate of teaching. And we're wondering about the trends and themes that have presented themselves this year for helping educators move forward.

So as I mentioned earlier, that idea of time. But anecdotally, I think what we heard over and over, both in our survey and from our members and leader meetings, is put a fork in me, I'm done-- not necessarily that I'm leaving the classroom, but, you know, I'm at my maximum capacity.

And there isn't anything more I can do. And if you keep expecting that of me, I'm going to be putting more and more barriers up to protect myself so I can just make it through these days and do my very best for my students in a profession that I love. And there's talk of teacher burnout.

And I push back on that because I think that suggests that our individuals are less than, that that's something that's in their control. I think it's much more about demoralization, of not being listened to, not being respected and heard. We see the impacts of these wave of legislation that attacks schools and the professional integrity of our educators.

We were fortunate. We fought back on a lot of them in Utah. Very few passed. But it has an impact. And again, our people are feeling it. They can't always articulate it aside from, I'm exhausted, I'm not at my best, and I want to be the best that I can be for my students. And where's the accountability on the other side of the system to give me what I need to be doing that?

Absolutely. Love that and could not agree more. I think there's some sensationalism that goes into, for instance, the data that you collected this year that it went directly to-- and I love your clarification there of, it's not that they want to leave the classroom. It's that they're feeling like they're lesser than and that there's some problems with that that really need to be listened to.

And I love that listening is really the number one thing. We just need to listen to teachers and understand what they need. I think that's really, really valuable. So with that said, teacher retention's, again, been a hot issue. Have you seen any initiatives from schools, from statewide organizations, or even from national organizations that have helped to retain teachers? And what can community members-- so parents, general public people-- do to help teachers stay in the field as well?

And I would love to start with that larger community. Our schools are part and parcel of our communities. As educators, teachers, and counselors, we often live in the communities where we work. These are our kids' friends. It's really interwoven.

And I-- there have been some loud voices that have been going to school board meetings, directly attacking teachers, trying to push through policy and legislation that would punish people for-- educators for teaching accurate and honest history, saying that you need to post all of your lesson plans for a full year and don't deviate from them or you might be subject to fines.

Those things have an impact. And I think starting with our larger community, and our parents especially, of-- we're hearing in numerous studies that the loud voices that are kind of taking over some of these meetings, that's not where people are. Most people, they like their schools, they love their teachers.

And we need to hear from them. We need to hear from them in the spaces where decisions are being made. We need to hear from them in those school board meetings where there's so much pressure on our school board. We need them to run for school board.

And then we need for them to connect with their child's teachers and educators more so than we've ever needed that partnership before to be able to really have that support and that relationship that's necessary for our students to succeed.

So being-- when there's other people yelling, we want that tempered with some real support and visibility and would be just so grateful for that and are already grateful for a lot. In terms of policy decisions and programs, I think it's important, as I said earlier-- we didn't get here overnight. And we've been sounding the alarm to no avail.

And I think the focus has been for so many years on short-term tactics, short-term strategies. Let's play the science or math teachers a little bit more because that's more of a competitive. Or let's pay student-- people in higher needs areas. Let's pay them based on the test scores. Let's-- nothing that has looked at long-term solutions.

Now, some of these short-term strategies are effective. And we must do them, but they must be in the context of a larger term solution. And we know that professionally-trained educators who have expertise and practice prior to being on the job are much more effective with our students for student learning, and they are far more likely to stay in the profession.

So when we know that, let's invest in that instead of creating a licensing system or a system of hiring that just gets a person to be able to fill in that role. And let's have paid induction time. Let's pay-- let's carve out time for our master teachers to serve as mentors for people who are-- for our student teachers, our educators who are investing in those university programs.

Let's talk about scholarships. Let's look at grow your own programs. Let's invest deliberately in having a teaching profession that is reflective of our student diversity. We're very white as teachers. We're not as students.

And we need to do that with a deliberate intention. And it's not going to just happen tomorrow. We can't expect that it happens tomorrow. But we have to be planning in those increments in order to get there.

And again, looking at the environment and the climate that is being allowed to attack our educators is not going to attract people to the profession. We have to put-- have to come together collectively in our communities and our state and shut it down.

Elevate our educators. Give them what they need to be successful. And then we won't have this problem. And then of course, pay us. Pay us what we're worth. Pay us, but you know, yes, we're making great strides. And there has been a significant investment on the front end of salaries, which is fantastic.

But everyone who looks at a potential career is not going to just look at what you start at. What does this look like in terms of what my life is going to be if I have a career in education? So we've got to start tending to the mid and the upper ends of the salary schedules and compensation as well.

Heidi, fantastic. Like, if you needed a five-minute primer on education and solutions for it, there it is right there in nice, bold terms. I think most of us, though, who are listening to this, we're thinking, OK, those are all great solutions. But as you've said and very aptly said, this is going to take time.

Where's our starting point, though? What's the first step or one of the-- maybe a couple of first steps for us to, and using your terminology, kind of re-professionalize the field and make it build out teachers a little bit more effectively? So I was on a group with Envision Utah that was studying teacher compensation.

And there was a representative from an HR down in Silicon Slopes. And I am not recalling exactly what organization. And she was just astounded that we were having to so deliberately talk about recruitment because she said, in our office, in our company, retention is recruitment.

And that's something that we can do right now in education is find out, and it's not hard, who's there? Who's been in it? Who are the people who are carrying the water across our state right now?

Talk to them. What do you need? Is it more time? Is it more education professionals and aids and supports in your classroom? Is it another counselor in your school? Is it better health insurance, that I don't have to drive two hours to see a specialist? There's a lot of different things.

And then do it because we can't afford not to. We can't afford to wait for five years, 10 years for this to catch up. And again, it's hard to argue with retention being the best recruitment.

No, you're definitely right there, especially our educators who, like you said, have gone through an education program in college or after college. Keeping our employees is definitely a lot cheaper than recruiting and getting new people into the field.

Heidi, you have been absolutely wonderful, very clear on the things that we need. Do you have any final words of advice for educators who have just almost made it through the school year?

I think it's just being good to themselves, which is hard in this environment. And I don't mean it as an empty platitude. It is sometimes really hard to remember the impact that we have on kids, especially in these environments.

And we have so many younger educators who have come on in really trying times, maybe not having all of the training that we would have loved for them to have. But they're stepping up. And we're so grateful to them.

But they don't have what I have, which is I can go into a grocery store and see a student that I taught 20 years ago who throws their arms around me-- with a mask, I'm sure. But you know, and that is just such a rich experience to have that depth and to know that sometimes what you do in your career, it doesn't make a difference right then because it's just not the time.

But having that as longevity and knowing that that's how you have spent your career is in the profession that leads to all other professions is something that I am so very grateful for and that I would just urge all of the people who have entered into this profession in whatever realm that is, is to hold on to that and have that be that kind of touchstone.

Absolutely. Thank you so much for your wonderful words today, Heidi, and great outline of what we can do here in the state of Utah but also for listeners that are outside the state of Utah for teacher retention, valuing teachers, and keeping them in the classrooms where they really, like you just said, make real change over time. So thank you so much for your time and being on the podcast today.

Thank you. Sure appreciate you.


What I loved about Heidi's interview and Heidi, in general, is that usually when we talk about something like teacher retention or teachers leaving the field, it becomes a heavy, dark conversation very quickly. But she was so excited and happy and positive throughout that conversation. I'm excited to see what UEA brings to the table in the future but also how we can-- taking some of those ideas and building them out to keep teachers in the field and keep retaining new teachers as well.

You're right. Heidi definitely spoke about this difficult topic with a very optimistic tone. I think she's proud of the work that she and UEA does and is ready to continue the hard work of advocating for public educators.

Exactly. And one of my favorite parts of it is that she and the UEA are out there supporting Utah teachers every day through legislative sessions and through different opportunities throughout the state. And it's just fantastic to see the groundswell of support for you to educators across kind of different organizations and different groups in the state of Utah.

Yeah, it's great to hear, not just from Heidi, but from Kami as well that there are organizations that are working together to support our teachers. So we are so grateful to have heard from Kami Dupree and Heidi Matthews in today's podcast.

Absolutely. Dani, it's our last episode, though.

It is. It's our last episode before summer.

Yeah, it's summer o'clock. We're ready to roll. But the sad thing is that you're going to have a summer. I'm jumping into a brand new series of six podcasts with Jen Gibbs called UEN LitFlix Podcast. It's going to start in June and go through the summer till the end of August and explore the connections between literature and classic film.

Oh, man. That is absolutely up your alley. And I'll be-- even though I'll be spending my summer training the amazing teachers of Utah, I'll be sure to listen in.

Absolutely. And join us here in just a second for a quick rundown of what that podcast is all about. We'll see you in September.

Bye, team.


While UEN Homeroom is on summer break, join myself, Matt Winters, and Jen Gibbs for the UEN Litflix podcast. Starting in June, Jen and I will explore the connections between classic film and literature with a wide range of guests from film experts to librarians to writers and researchers. The six-episode series will air throughout the summer on the UEN Homeroom podcast thread. Join us for some great conversations about film and literature on the UEN LitFlix podcast.