Nearly 300 teachers flooded into the Snider Music Hall at Stanislaus State on Friday morning for the second annual Better Together: California Teachers Summit, eager for a day of learning and networking.
The instructors gathered at Stanislaus State were just a small portion of the thousands of PK-12 educators that came together at 38 locations across the state, including the 23 California State University campuses. The Summit is an event which focuses on building a powerful statewide network of peers while allowing teachers to share ideas and strategies for implementing the new California Standards in their classrooms.
The section of the Summit held at Stanislaus State welcomed teachers from the university’s six-county service area, including Stanislaus County, San Joaquin County and Merced County.
“I like that it’s put on by teachers,” said Desirae Nunez, a teacher at Chrysler Elementary in Modesto. “I hope to learn more about the technology used in classrooms since more schools are going in that direction. Even as a younger teacher, it’s hard to learn these new methods.”
The Summit featured keynote addresses from author and teacher Kelly Gallagher, who spoke on the importance of integrating writing across curriculums, and actor Ernie Hudson, who shared the story of how one of his teachers helped him go from a life in poverty to launching a successful Hollywood career. Though both keynote guests spoke at CSU Fullerton, the speeches were broadcasted via livestream in the Snider Music Hall.
At each Summit site, local teachers presented TED-style EdTalks highlighting their successes, struggles and innovative ideas to help kids learn. Each EdTalk presenter was hand-chosen by the Summit committee, and the speakers in Turlock were Stanislaus State alumni Yolanda Moran and Sergio de Alba. Moran, a sixth grade bilingual teacher for the Osborn Elementary Two-Way Immersion Program, gave a talk titled “My students’ success is my success; Their failure is my failure.” Eleven-time Teacher of the Year recipient de Alba’s talk was titled “The impact you make on your students is greater than you think.”
The Summit also featured Edcamp breakout sessions in between speakers, which allowed for teachers to select specific topics they wanted to learn more about or discuss further, such as the California Standards in English /Language Arts and Math, the Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core. The breakout sessions allowed for instructors to exchange ideas with colleagues throughout the region, and were facilitated by leaders from the Great Valley Writing Project.
“Teachers learn new ideas that they can use in the classroom, but they also make connections which in so many ways establish a professional network that goes across school districts and classrooms,” said Dr. Oddmund Myhre, Dean for the College of Education, Kinesiology and Social Work at Stanislaus State. “It’s an inspirational event.”
Students of the Student California Teachers Association were in charge of tables at the event which included a photo booth and exercise where teachers answered the question, “Why do you teach?” SCTA Vice President Leng Chang, who hopes to become a teacher one day, was inspired by the site of so many educators coming together for one common goal.
“Being out here is really exciting because this is a great opportunity for every teacher in the Valley to come and learn something new, not just about themselves but also to collaborate with other teachers,” said Chang. “The teachers have the freedom to choose what they want to learn and talk about.”
The Summit also had a strong social media presence, with the event being broadcasted live in a Google Hangout and shared on both Facebook and Twitter. Attendees were also able to download the California Teachers Summit mobile app, where details of the event were provided in real time and potential Edcamp topics could be submitted.
According to event coordinator Tara Ribeiro, the Better Together: California Teachers Summit has secured funding for the next two years, but hopes to continue to be an annual event for years to come.