It's been a while since I've posted but I'm so excited about this that I had to make time to share!
Last weekend I attended an ECET2 conference, specifically #ECET2LOU (Louisville). ECET stands for Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers and was born "out of a desire to provide a forum for exceptional teachers to learn from one another and to celebrate the teaching profession". It is connected with Teacher2Teacher on a national level and was organized in Louisville by JCPSForward, a group that is leading a "strategic, intentional effort to identify and connect the educators in JCPS that are deeply impacting learning and teaching".
I left the conference feeling inspired, energized and fired up to return to my classroom. Being around other teachers who are life long learners that want to continuously increase their effectiveness and share was a breath of fresh air during this trying time in the year. Leaving the conference, it was so apparent how many amazing, mission-oriented educators are in my district and it was awesome meeting them face-to-face.
If you have the opportunity to attend one in your area, or even go to the national ECET2 (which I'd like to do), I'm highly recommending you take advantage of it and GO!
Going to the conference, I wasn't really sure what to expect. What would the vibe be like? Would it be "sit and get" and a waste of a Saturday? Since it is FOR TEACHERS BY TEACHERS (#praise!), it wasn't "sit and get" at all! Friday night was the "optional" night and it opened with a keynote speaker (@drvickip) who was phenomenal. She spoke about how #ItsTime teachers are given voice, space and time to do their best work.
After the keynote, there were breakout sessions. Attendees could go watch a screening of "Most Likely to Succeed" or participate in BreakoutEDU games before heading to a more social gathering to end the night.
Bright and early the next morning, the conference started off with breakfast where attendees could register for the day as well as mingle with others. The rest of the day was divided up by breakout sessions (3), a "working lunch" with a speaker, and colleague circles. One of the best parts about the day was the variety of sessions you could choose from. Just how we, educators, talk about giving kids choice in the classroom and with assignments, it is the same with adults! I was able to make meaning of things and takeaway much more because I was in sessions that I chose that were relevant to me.
#WhyITeach: To Close Achievement Gaps
The first session I chose was the ESSA/Ed Policy session. I was originally a political science major and have a passion for politics, especially ed policy. Because of the state of Kentucky politics at the moment, many education bills are being discussed this session. I wanted to hear what the presenters had to say, and learn from presenters who were committed to sharing information about the bills, without partisan spin and editorializing. My takeaway from this session was that a lot more educators are plugged in to these topics than I originally thought. Some awesome discussion came out of the session as we broke to talk about specific bills that are on the docket in the Kentucky legislature now. The conversations pushed my thinking, as well as confirmed some of my viewpoints. I also learned a lot more about the history of testing in Kentucky, as I was in elementary school with the CATS test started and wasn't privy to anything that happened outside of the playground. :)
The second session I chose was the Strengths and Girls of Color session presented by Dr. Mathies, Dr. Carmichael and Dr. Young. This was the most powerful session. Not only were the presenters engaging, their statistics about discipline and suspension rates for girls of color were extremely relevant as they spoke about national trends, as well as within JCPS. Their session led participants to recognize and name some of their own privilege and bias in order to put some of their presentation into better context. They left the presenters with actionable steps and resources they can take back to their campuses. My takeaway from this session is that I'm not doing enough in order to push the thinking of my colleagues in terms of how we interact with girls of color at my campus. It is great if I am aware of myself, adjust my practice in order to better support students of color, but the work must not stop there.
My Next Steps
After reflecting this week on my takeaways and what "stuck with me", I wanted to create some next steps for myself because the exciting work and dialogue doesn't need to stop just because the conference is over!
Because of my passion for education policy, I'm going to be more plugged in in terms of monitoring education bills in my state and I'm going to provide feedback on bills through the KYEdPolicy website. The site allows visitors to read the bills as they are (with no partisan spin), leave feedback on a simple Google form, that then gets shared with electeds and other stakeholders. Conversations are going to be had about the legislation anyway, and I believe it is important to have as much feedback from educators as possible in the conversation.
Additionally, my next step is to to get more plugged in with the #ColorBraveJCPS work and to take steps to spread the word and challenge thinking on my campus in terms of how we support girls of color. I'm going to do this by (1) seeing if we can do the color arc activity with staff at my campus, as well as (2) have conversations about some of our school level data. I'm going to continue to dialogue with the presenters of the session (Dr. Mathies, Dr. Carmichael and Dr. Young) as well.
Have you attended an ECET2 conference? What was your experience like?
Until next time,
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