Teachers learn from each other at Brandman-hosted education summit
Brandman University has a long history of educating educators. Four campuses continued that tradition in July by hosting the California Teachers Summit 2016.
The summit’s “better together” theme puts the emphasis on educators teaching each other. That’s exactly what happened in Irvine, Modesto, Walnut Creek and Visalia, where a total of 498 participants signed up to listen to inspiring talks, share information and document the day with photographs and Twitter posts. Thousands of teachers from across the state participated at other college campuses and sites.
The day started with original “Ghostbusters” actor Ernie Hudson talking about the importance of education in his journey out of poverty to a successful career in Hollywood. Local “EdTalk” speakers at each campus followed Hudson’s video-streamed presentation with their own observations about the state of K-12 education in California.
Lauren Steinmann, from Tustin Unified School District and speaking in Irvine, focused on not just surviving but thriving on change. “If you’re in education, you know that almost nothing stays the same.”
Steinmann said her job shifted from teaching elementary school students to working with teachers, focusing on both new technology and new curriculum standards for science, technology and math (STEM).
Some teachers, she said, will sit back and essentially refuse to adjust because they’ve seen so many shifts in what’s expected. Student engagement begins with teacher engagement, she said. To make her point, she told a story about a bee swarm at the coffee shop she worked in as a teenager. “This is so not what I signed up for,” she remembers thinking. Eventually, she figured out she needed to take control of the situation but her first reaction was to do nothing. “Do you wait or do you act? Change is a choice,” she told the Irvine campus group.
Quoting from the book “Switch” by Chip and Dan Heath, she said, “’Knowledge is rarely enough to spark change. It takes emotion to bring knowledge to a boil.’ It’s not enough to just go to the training. You guys are the emotion here. You’re the ones who have to translate it back to students.’”
“When you choose to embrace change, even when you really, really don’t want to, you are taking control of the uncontrollable,” she said, adding that the public doesn’t always appreciate that teaching is hard work. “But you can do hard things. Go out and do them.”
Similar messages were conveyed in Modesto, Visalia and Walnut Creek by speakers Dave Menshew, Christopher Cumiford and Marcia Trott. Cumiford was the Tulare County Teacher of the Year and earned his credential at Brandman’s Visalia campus.
Throughout the day, teachers met in small groups known as “EdCamps” to exchange information and focus on the topics they find most challenging, including technology and curriculum integration, classroom management and best practices for STEM.
In the afternoon, local EdTalk speakers in Visalia and Walnut Creek were Angie Ford and Gabriela Rowland. Adjunct faculty member Ron Boren got the house “rocking” in Modesto, reported Barbara Bartels, assistant vice chancellor of Community Relations. His talked encouraged the teachers to not be math haters.
In Irvine, Raquel Solorzano-Dueñas, the Orange County Teacher of the Year, said the her “why” for becoming a teacher – to get teenagers to be as enthused about history as she is – hasn’t changed, but the “how” has.
“I wasn’t fully ready to embrace Common Core when it was introduced,” she said. “But it includes skills that kids are coming into our classrooms without. We need to bridge the gap to acquiring those skills.”
That involves changing student thinking from the “I can’t” to the “I can,” she said.
Rounding out the day was the final video-streamed presentation was from Kelly Gallagher from the Anaheim Union High School District. He stressed the importance of making students write, tying it to learning, expanding student opportunities and future career and education opportunities.
A unique partnership between the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU), the California State University (CSU) system and New Teacher Center formed to host the free event.
All participants received a free resource guide, which includes new teacher-vetted resources and concrete tools that are already working in classrooms across the state. The resource guide will be expanded throughout the year to help teachers put what they learned at the Summit into practice.
Organizers expect the summit to become an annual event held each July thanks to the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the California Department of Education, the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, Chevron, the James Irvine Foundation, the OC STEM Initiative, Schools First Federal Credit Union, the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the Silver Giving Foundation and Wells Fargo.
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