Kudos to the masterminds behind the California Teachers Summit that took place on July 31. The day began with an inspirational speech by actress Yvette Nicole Brown and ended with another by astronaut Leland Melvin. I attended the event in Redding where Simpson University hosted about 200 or more teachers.
In addition there were speakers from local schools sharing some awesome things happening in our area. My favorite was when Brian Grigsby from Shasta High School shared how STEM is inspiring his students and changing their career paths. I love that one of his students was given permission to try to fix a broken 3D printer. It ended up he figured out how to print his own version of the broken part and the printer was fixed! These types of learning experiences stick with kids for a lifetime.
What made the CA Teachers Summit extra special was the opportunity for teachers to choose a topic of interest and collaborate with others around that topic. After registration we were given sticky notes and asked to jot down what we’d like to discuss. We stuck them randomly to a chart on a wall. A facilitator organized the topic suggestions into groups and created collaboration workshops tailored to our needs.
I attended two collaboration groups: “Rural Schools” and “Teaching Multiple Grades.” This is what made this event amazing. Topics were relevant to the teachers attending. These are topics that are unique to our area.
It was refreshing to talk with teachers who are in similar schools and classrooms. I was encouraged to see so many others with concerns and experiences similar to my own. Here’s a brief list of the topics we brainstormed and discussed in these two sessions.
Common Issues in Rural schools:
Fundraising without tapping the parents too much
Field Trips to broaden the students’ experience and perspective
Creating opportunities for parent involvement that fit the needs of diverse family situations.
Socio-economic diversity among families
Limited Internet access
Common Issues of Multigrade Teachers:
Limited collaboration opportunities with other multigrade teachers
Teaching two or more Social Studies curriculums at once
Meeting the learning needs of a greater range of ability levels
Older students mentoring younger students
Multigrade teaching and the depth of Common Core
Limited access to instructional aides.
At the end of each of these sessions, the facilitator gathered our names and emails to help us connect with each other in the future. Rural schools and multigrade teachers face challenges common in all schools, but their solutions are very different. I’d love to see more professional development for these unique teaching situations.
Great job, California Teachers Summit and Simpson University for creating a meaningful professional development event for teachers as diverse as the students they serve.