June is a busy month, though usually it focuses more on family and less on school. However at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort in Tucson it was all education-focused as educators from around Arizona hustled and bustled, intent on taking advantage of the Arizona Department of Education’s (ADE) annual Leading Change Conference, Teachers’ Institute Conference, and the Educator Effectiveness Summit VIII.
The three annual conferences were held consecutively for the first time this year, in order to better serve teachers and school administrators with reduced travel and content that shared cross-collaborative efforts. A myriad of keynote speakers, presenters, and breakout sessions to work from both viewpoints in our schools – administrators and teachers – were designed to build off of one another and fill in the gaps between “I have an idea!” and “I learned something new!”
June 12, 2017 was the kick off for the fun-filled week with the Teachers’ Institute, held for the first time in Tucson, and the conference hosted professional development and networking opportunities for Arizona’s teachers over two days. June 14 saw the beginning of the Leading Change Conference, typically reserved for school administrators although some number of teachers attended on behalf of their schools or districts and vice versa.
Each day, whether filled with administrators or teachers, buzzed with activity, inspiration, and – best to those of us in this field, of course – learning. Veteran teachers, principals, counselors, and more shared wisdom and experience with teachers newer to the profession, and those just starting out in their careers often shared their enthusiasm and new ideas or considerations with veterans.
But most of all there was an overwhelming sense of purpose for the conference, of partnerships between schools and staff being considered, and best of all of new friendships being formed. For the first time, teachers and administrators had the opportunity to attend each others conferences, to see what was being learned, the ideas that would be brought back to the schools for implementation, and to work with each other as they each learned these new, or even old, concepts to bring back to their schools with a formative plan. It was an opportunity to meet in the middle and work outward toward their specialties, rather than starting at opposite ends and finding the compromise in the middle that works for both.
The faces and excited voices of the teachers and administers, the smiles and the laughter, showed a profound collaboration and it was overheard several times how many attendees could not wait for next year’s conferences. To learn more about the Leading Change, Teachers’ Institute, and Summit VIII Conferences, please visit here.