Attending conferences and professional training has been a significant part of my development as an educator. While training can certainly vary, learning from others is always a welcomed opportunity. Every year I look to participate in different conferences or online seminars, and I strive to experience training that will:
- Provide instructional strategies that increase or enhance student learning.
- Offer new content that will improve instruction for teachers.
- Refine my coaching and leadership skills.
In June, I had the opportunity to attend the Model Schools Conference in beautiful Orlando, Florida. Surrounded by 5,000 colleagues in education, I was both excited and a bit overwhelmed as I tried to select from the list of experts all gathered in one location. I eagerly learned about courageous conversations and equity from Dr. Tyrone C. Howard as he reminded us that we are “change agents” with the responsibility of exploring and addressing issues of race, culture, and implicit bias. Investigating and investing in the why behind the striving learner is a priority that will serve as the foundation for the professional development opportunities I offer for the upcoming year.
Dr. Bill Daggett’s session, titled “Moving Vision to Action,” was also uplifting for the mind swirling to construct and refine plans for the next school year. As educators, we have goals and a vision for how our divisions, schools, and classrooms should operate. He explained that these goals are not enough. We must actively decide on the steps necessary to make those goals a reality.
He also discussed the ever-increasing importance of properly addressing the social and emotional needs of our students. The statement that truly resonated with me was: “The question should not be, ‘What is wrong with this student.’ But rather, the question should be, ‘What happened to this student?’” Like Dr. Howard, Dr. Daggett explained that we cannot teach children without first building positive relationships with them.
Borrowing from the experts, I will ensure that we have back-to-school professional development that will:
- Focus on school and classroom culture.
- Provide instructional strategies that ensure equity for all students.
- Ensure actionable goal setting for both teachers and students.
Embracing all the wisdom from nationally renowned experts in the field was like a delicious cake, but the icing came when I met and engaged in the discussion from those working in classrooms or directly with teachers who help striving readers use either the READ 180 or System 44 intervention programs. Learning from the experts in the trenches who daily work to improve the reading levels of students and their coaches gave me countless instructional ideas and strategies.