Attending conferences can be an invaluable resource in a teacher’s book bag. As we returned from our second Model Schools Conference, we reflected on how being there changed our professional practice.
As teachers of academic intervention for reading and math, we often collaborate on how our practices have transformed to better adapt to our changing student population. Many things come to mind, but here are a few that stand out and shed light on the value of professional conferences for K–12 teachers.
Erika Gilbert on the Value of Social Media for Professional Learning
Prior to attending MSC, I had started a Twitter account at a summer professional development session. I learned at the workshop various ways to use Twitter in my classroom; however, it never quite worked for me. I started following some accounts that were relevant to my career (for example, my own school and district, HMH, and Math Solutions), but I never used it in any other way and very seldom logged onto my account.
After attending MSC 2019 in Washington, D.C., I quickly realized that my learning could continue well after the conference by following the presenters whose sessions I attended. It was then that I caught the “Twitter bug.” By following them, I learned about and started following other great leaders in K–12 education. There were so many amazing educators from around the world available right at my fingertips; all I had to do was push the "Follow" button. Now, I follow a variety of ICLE consultants (such as Weston Kieschnick), educational organizations, school and district administrators, and classroom teachers I met at MSC (such as Hailey Smallwood). These organizations and individuals on Twitter have expanded my thinking and provided me with many ideas that I have been able to implement within my classroom and school.
With this expanded professional learning network, I have read and thought in depth about educational topics that had rarely crossed my mind before related to education policies, leadership, and equity in schools. There’s amazing work taking place in schools throughout the U.S., and I have found new ideas to apply in my professional role. Twitter has exposed me to many resources—books, websites, tools—that I have been able to use within my classroom and school.
I also continue to socialize with educators whom I met at MSC, developing those relationships well past the conference. Most recently, I jumped into a book study with a small group of educators at my school. We are using Twitter not only to discuss our thinking behind the book but also to connect with the author.
As a result of the connections I have made, I have decided to extend my professional practice even further by making the decision to go back to school to pursue my Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Leadership. This is a journey that I can directly attribute to conferences like MSC!