By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– Nearly 500 teachers participated at the third annual Better Together: California Teachers Summit at Cal State San Bernardino, a free day of learning led by teachers for teachers.
Educators don’t often get the opportunity to collaborate and hear input, feedback and resources from other experienced teachers, said Euridici Fitz, a teacher consultant in the San Bernardino City Unified School District and a CSUSB alumna. The summit allows them to meet and share ideas with teachers not only within their own school district, but within surrounding districts as well, she said.
“The most important take-away for me would be actually having those conversations and opportunities to collaborate,” Fitz said. “Hearing other people’s stories, hearing what they did in certain situations, because oftentimes as educators or even coaches, it might seem as if we’re the only person who experiences certain things. But when we hear other people’s experiences and how they dealt with it or addressed the issue, I know it gave me resources for my teaching toolbox to pull from.”
Jill Biden, a lifelong educator and the wife of former Vice President Joe Biden, delivered the keynote address at Saint Mary’s, which was livestreamed to all 35 sites. Biden, who has taught at community colleges, a public high school and a psychiatric hospital for adolescents, shared valuable insights from her 30-year teaching career.
“We can always learn more on how best to meet the individual needs of our students,” Biden said. “That way, we can build stronger relationships, and find new and better ways to meet students where they are.”
Biden pointed out the sharp political differences over many areas. Yet, she said, “supporting education is a bi-partisan issue. Diverse perspectives make us more effective. They help us think differently and attack problems from new angles.”
The 2017 theme, “Now More Than Ever,” reflects the importance of bringing teachers together to share ways to empower California students, protect their values as educators and set an example for the nation. The California Teachers Summit is the result of a unique partnership between the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU), the California State University and New Teacher Center.
“This year’s theme, ‘Now More Than Ever,’ is especially relevant in the Inland Empire,” said CSUSB President Tomás D. Morales in a video address to summit participants. “According to a recent report by the Public Policy Institute of California, ours is one of three key regions that must increase their college enrollment and graduation rate if this state is to meet its need for college-educated workers by 2030.”
For that reason, he said, preparing students early in their education is essential to have them college-ready by the time they graduate from high school.
The summit provided educators an opportunity to share ideas that have worked in their classrooms in hopes of that success spreading to other schools, helping students to succeed.
“The California Teachers Summit is all about teachers. They are the experts on what works in the classroom,” said Kristen Soares, president of AICCU. “Now more than ever, we are committed to enhancing the teaching profession by giving teachers the opportunity to learn cutting-edge strategies that make a difference in the classroom.”
And that can lead to making a difference in the lives of children. “I have never in my life have wanted to do anything else in my life other than teach,” Fitz said. “And I chose to teach in San Bernardino because I wanted to teach kids like me. I came up from poverty. I struggled. I had a rough upbringing. Just knowing through my experiences in my life, I would be able to be a resource of information or hope for those students in similar situations. So I just want to make a difference for those kids, especially here in San Bernardino.”
Following Biden’s address, each site featured TED-style EdTalks by local teachers — at CSUSB, they were given by Sarah Gapp and Carmen Quinn-Okoh, both from the San Bernardino City Unified School District — and Edcamp discussions on teacher-selected topics. From addressing bullying in the classroom to celebrating diversity to teaching students to be open-minded, critical thinkers, teachers explored timely topics that are impacting student success.
“By investing in teachers, we are investing in our current and our future students,” said Loren Blanchard, executive vice chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs at CSU. “Participants gain strategies, tools and resources for helping every student meet their full potential.”
The summit format is designed to facilitate a spirit of peer learning and collaboration. Teachers walked away with access to new resources and concrete tools that are already transforming classrooms across the state.
“Bringing teachers together empowers them to take their teaching to the next level,” said Ellen Moir, founder and CEO of New Teacher Center. “By learning from, supporting and elevating each other, there’s no limit to what California teachers can do.”
Plans are already underway for the fourth annual summit, which will take place on July 27, 2018. During the event, the organizers announced next year’s theme, “It’s Personal: Meeting the Needs of All Students,” which reflects the importance of personalized learning.
The Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities represents 75 private nonprofit colleges and universities in California who collectively enroll 320,000 students and is the largest preparer of California’s advanced workforce. The core mission of AICCU institutions is to improve lives through higher education. AICCU institutions are committed to the public good and are incredibly diverse – ranging from large to small traditional liberal arts institutions, including nationally ranked research universities; colleges offering faith-based, performing and visual arts, and “non-traditional” programs of study; as well as professional schools that specialize in business, law, medicine and more. In addition to providing creative and intellectual higher education resources to assure California’s future societal and economic vitality, AICCU institutions are major contributors to the economies of the regions they serve.
The California State University is the largest system of senior higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, 50,800 faculty and staff and 479,000 students. Half of the CSU’s students transfer from California Community Colleges. Created in 1960, the mission of the CSU is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever changing needs of California. With its commitment to quality, opportunity and student success, the CSU is renowned for superb teaching, innovative research and for producing job-ready graduates. Each year, the CSU awards more than 110,000 degrees. One in every 20 Americans holding a college degree is a graduate of the CSU and our alumni are 3.4 million strong. Connect with and learn more about the CSU in the CSU NewsCenter.
New Teacher Center is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to improving student learning by guiding a new generation of educators. Founded by teachers in 1998, NTC works in conjunction with school districts, state policy makers and educators across the country to increase the effectiveness of teachers and school leaders at all levels. These programs are built upon research-based principles for teacher onboarding, mentoring and ongoing coaching, and proven to accelerate teacher effectiveness, reduce teacher churn and improve student achievement. NTC has made it their mission to overcome challenges students and teachers face by providing all educators with the support and resources necessary to succeed from their first day to their last. NTC now supports over 8,500 mentors or coaches and 31,600 teachers, and is improving the learning of over 2.2 million students across the country.