During the pre-conference Opening Session, the speaker for the night was Jeremy Rinder (@jeremyrinder). His inspiring message encouraged teachers to find out from students what they want from them as a teacher. He shared that his students wanted him to participate, get the class to lunch on time, and have SWAG...to name a few. Each student request was followed with a touching story from inside the walls of his classroom (I'm sorry..."learning cottage") or from inside the lives of his former students. The second day of the conference started with speaker/author Madame Esme Raji Codell. Madame Esme is the author of the must read book Educating Esme (as well as other titles) who shares her educational journey from a first year teacher to librarian. She has a passion for books, reading, and empowering through literacy. Her message is that literacy is "the promise of tomorrow." She states that educators should focus on read aloud, motivation, and building students' connections with authors/illustrators. Her motivation-based approach encompasses the four I's: Interest, Integration, Invention, and Identity. Madame Esme also suggests that first year teachers add The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease to their professional reading checklist. Click on the links below to review Madame Esme's blogs:
The Planet Esme Plan
Educating Esme Teacher Blog
In addition to inspirational speakers, the conference offered a variety of breakout sessions centered around the "PIPEline to Success"-Planning, Instruction, Professionalism, and Environment. There were four rounds of breakout sessions filled with valuable information from experienced presenters.
During Session 1, I presented a session about blogging. If you are interested in getting the presentations shared with the audience, you can click on the link to my blog post.
During Session 2, I attended Dr. Ann Marie Taylor's session "Behavior Interventions for ALL Teachers". Dr. Taylor, a special education educator, has created a one-sheet behavior intervention menu that suggests options for dealing with unwanted behaviors. The menu of strategies range from least restrictive to most restrictive. Her tips include establishing class norms that are explicitly stated, modeled, and taught in the classroom. She suggests that teachers review these norms with students DAILY. This list should be limited, five at most, and interchangeable depending upon the needs of the class. Dr. Taylor also believes that teachers need to be aware of the top three reasons for student misbehavior which are avoidance, control, and attention. Once these are recognized, then the teacher creates an environment that seeks to give students choice and values their input in establishing a positive class culture. The third session that I attended was presented by CERRA's own, Todd Scholl (@toddscholl), titled "Managing Teacher Stress". Who doesn't need to know this secret? Right?! A special thanks to Todd for the calm, serenity, and peacefulness he created. But, one thing I learned is that even when I think I'm relaxing, that inner voice is still running in the background. My goal for the summer is to build my stamina with truly being able to relax my mind and meditate. The final session that I attended was with Elementary teacher, Megan McNinch (@McNinchie). Her session "Computer Coding in the Classroom" addresses a need in the 21st Century job market--more students that know how to write code. Megan shared several resources that teach these skills to students using a gaming format. This is a fun, interactive way to get students involved and peak their interest in Computer Science. I missed Megan's earlier session on "Breakout EDU" but as an added bonus, she generously shared her handout with a link to her presentation and resources. If you are looking for an activity for your classroom or faculty team building, this box of materials and accompanying games will provide the group with opportunities for Critical Thinking, Collaboration, and Creativity. I also loved the debriefing questions that allow the group to reflect on the process. Questions such as: "Do you feel like your ideas were heard?" "How do you think your group could have been more effective?" "Specifically praise someone from your group" (I know that last one is not a question, but it is one of my favorites for the reflection conversation). The last speaker, during our lunch break, was our newly named state teacher of the year. One thing you learn when Jennifer Wise (@awiselearner) speaks is that she LOVES math. You also learn that she loves her school and her students. She is a dedicated educator who truly understands the impact of her work.
This conference was informative and inspiring. I made some great connections that I hope will develop into great relationships. I hope to present again next year and maybe I'll see you there!