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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teachers and Teaching


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APS Elementary School Teachers Attend

ECET2 Conference

 
Beautiful scenery, a first-class venue – and important work for Kenny Kraus and Shenise Shorter at the Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers (ECET2) conference sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Kenny and Shenise attended to represent Atlanta Public Schools after being recognized by the Atlanta Families' Awards for Excellence in Education (AFAEE).

The conference provided the opportunity for front-line educators from various cities to come together and discuss methods to advance the practice of teaching. In Atlanta and throughout the U.S., educators are trending toward innovative peer mentoring and instructional tools that were presented at the conference. The speakers and presenters included the National Teacher of the Year 2010, the authors of Teaching 2030, Melinda Gates, and others.
 
The ECET2 conference breakout sessions covered timely subjects being embraced by APS such as scheduled mentoring, teaching forums, and teacher video self-assessment. A few of the session titles included:
  • Using New Observation Tools: A Dialogue with School Principals and Teachers
  • Improving Your Practice: Tools and Strategies for Mentoring and Induction
  • Re-imagining the Role of the Teacher
  • How Teachers Can Influence and Shape Education Policy
  • The Mathematics Design Collaborative: Tools for Implementing Common Core Standards and Improving Teaching
  • Using Video to Improve Your Teaching Practice
Shenise Shorter
 Shenise Shorter
Shenise, a first-grade teacher at Springdale Park Elementary School, was impressed that the teachers were clearly the focus of the conference; they were able to serve as presenters as well as a valued target audience. It was important to her that “they wanted to hear what WE had to say.”


 

 Kenny Kraus

 Kenny Kraus
Kenny teaches kindergarten at Sarah Rawson Smith Elementary School. In keeping with his interest in technology in the classroom, the Teaching Channel (www.theteachingchannel.org) was engaging as a tool to “reflect on your (teaching) practice and strengthen his teacher toolbox.” The Teaching Channel is a web-based resourced designed by teachers to support teachers’ professional development and classroom instruction. He was also impressed that the teachers had leadership roles throughout the conference and could also openly discuss teaching issues that were common to the group.

Kenny and Shenise expressed a need for learning opportunities based on the results of teacher evaluation tools, as well as opportunities for peer review and self-assessment through videotaped classroom instruction. Other issues that arose included:
  • Providing time for principals and other administrators to spend time in the classroom to directly assist with teacher development
  • Providing more opportunities for input at the district level
  • Retaining effective teachers through equitable pay

In keeping with the organizers’ intent to spread the conference information to a wide audience, the participants were encouraged to tweet about their ideas and activities which added to the flow of information – and likely added some humorous digressions as well.

As part of the closing activities, the Gates Foundation staff created a photo montage with pictures from the breakout sessions and attendees’ cue cards reflecting what effective teaching meant to them. The ACE Choir of Coronado High School, Scottsdale Unified School District, performed for the group. By the end of the closing ceremonies, the teachers were “re-energized and inspired.”
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