Whoever says teachers are lucky because they get the whole summer off from work are partially wrong. Yes, we do have more flexibility during the summer to take time for ourselves. However, teachers also spend their summers working with students, building curriculum, and participating in professional development opportunities. This is something I did the week after we got out of school; I participated in the 3-day Charleston Educator Symposium.
Day 1 began with an amazing performance by a student orchestra, including the song “All-Star” by Smash Mouth! Then we had Paul Gorski as our keynote speaker. Unfortunately, he was unable to be there in person so thank goodness for Skype so we were able to still learn from him in regards to his work with educational inequality and social justice.
Throughout the symposium, I decided to attend sessions that focused on areas I felt needed some improvement.
After the keynote Day 1, I attended a session regarding rigor and proficiency scales (Hello Personalized Learning!) that was presented by my fellow colleagues. It helped in my understanding of how to use proficiency scales to determine rigor and will be beneficial when I attended the other workshop I signed up for later in July.
The other session I attended during Day 1 focused on virtual field trips and the many avenues to show students the world while not leaving the classroom. This is great for a teacher like me who feels getting funding or even the opportunity for my students to see the world would be difficult.
Day 2 started out great with a performance from a student color guard as well as an excellent keynote from Cris Tovani, who discussed literacy labs and how to increase student engagement.
The theme of technology and engagement continued into Day 2. The first session I went to added a bunch of tech tools to my arsenal, giving me many ideas to engage my students with their 1:1 technology.
I also participated in a session led by Sue Andelin that provided strategies to improve student engagement. It was a very interactive session where she used the strategies on us while we were learning about them!
The last day of the symposium began with an adorable performance by a children’s chorus then Shanna Peeples, the 2015 national teacher of the year, gave my favorite keynote speech of the week. She spoke using her own life stories to address different topics, focusing on innovation. My favorite quote from her was “Teachers are artists of human potential” and I couldn’t agree more!
Day 3 was packed with sessions. I attended another technology session that recapped some of the tools I learned about the day prior but explained different ways to use them and also introduced additional new ones.
My second session was regarding strategies for improving student comprehension in reading. It was probably my least favorite session because it provided many strategies and a lot of research but not really any concrete examples of how to use them.
For last session of the symposium, I originally picked something else, but after hearing Shanna‘s keynote speech, I changed it so I was able to attend her afternoon session. It was great of her to share ideas she used with her students to build relationships and gain that trust, something we worked really hard towards in my school. It was a session targeted towards getting the students to think more critically, using philosophical questions.
I also found out on the last day that I won a pair of Southwest round trip flights for all of my posts about the symposium on Twitter and Instagram! That was really cool because I was just sharing my thoughts about my experience, which I do any way. 🙂 (#spelledmylastnamewrong)
I learned so much from the symposium and have many new tools to incorporate this coming school year. I look forward to attending this symposium in future years and I hope other teachers find opportunities like this one to become even better educators and continue being lifelong learners!
Questions for you:
If you are a teacher, how do you continue your professional development throughout the summer?