Eager to network with peers while learning and sharing best practices, more than 400 PreK-12 teachers gathered at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) on July 29 for the second annual statewide Better Together: California Teachers Summit 2016.
The California Teachers Summit is a partnership between the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities, the California State University system, and the New Teacher Center.
CSUDH was one of 40 locations across the state that hosted more than 15,000 educators during the summit, which featured two keynote addresses that were streamed live to all host locations, and were delivered by high school teacher and author Kelly Gallagher, and veteran actor Ernie Hudson.
“I’ve been very blessed, and I can honestly say that I have a lot of teachers to credit for any success that I am experiencing today—you guys are amazing,” said Hudson, who has starred in such feature films as Ghostbusters (1984), Miss Congeniality, and the Hand that Rocks the Cradle. “There’s been a lot of talk lately about making America great, and I say let’s start by showing a little more love for our teachers. Let’s start by investing more in our children and our schools.”
The day-long summit featured Edcamp model breakout sessions in which educators organized into small group to address teaching and learning issues by using the “connected learning principles.” Before the Edcamps, the teachers wrote idea notes with strategies for classroom success to discuss during the sessions and posted them on a board. They also shared what they love about teaching on the “Why I Teach” board.
The summit also included TED-style EdTalks, short presentations by noted teachers who offered informative ideas and inspiring—even humorous—perspectives on teaching and working with students.
CSUDH alumna Susana Chavez (’12, bilingual education), who was named a “2016 Teacher of the Year” by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), presented the first of two EdTalks. Called “Connect Four, We Win!,” her talk focused on “four important points” for teacher success: building relationships with students and parents—having an “open-door-policy;” knowing students’ individual needs to differentiate instruction; preparing students for Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing; and having strong administrative support. She added a fifth point at the end: “going above and beyond with the entire school community.”
“Be sure to ask for support from your principal, and understand that your students learn in their own unique ways,” said Chavez, who was honored by LAUSD for her success as a structured English immersion teacher at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School in Lynwood. “Be sure to collaborate with your teams, particularly when preparing students for academic challenges.”
The day ended with the “Call to Action”—the sharing of next steps and opportunities for teachers, such as upcoming events, and education networks that they can join.