One overriding message in the Surry County Schools’ Teaching and Learning Conference Wednesday morning at Meadowview Middle Magnet School was the idea that teachers have a network and growing these connections with each other will make them educational “rock stars.”
Assistant Superintendent-Student Services Dr. Jeff Tunstall opened the two-day event by praising the teachers’ dedication for participating in the conference as the summer vacation wound down. The morning session was dedicated for Pre K-2 teachers with teachers in grades 3-5 concentrating on writing curriculum before both groups switched for the afternoon. Teachers in grades 6-12 will follow the same schedule today. The two conferences are arranged around a jungle theme.
“We get bombarded. We say it’s a jungle out there,” said Director of Academic and Digital learning Lucas Gillispie. “We are setting you up today to be prepared. You just don’t go into a jungle unprepared. We want you to know you are not going alone. Look around you. This is your network.”
Gillispie talked about how Smartphones have given people the ability to find out obscure facts quickly and encouraged the teachers to become savvy in getting social media to work for the system.
“Make a connection today with somebody new,” Lucas said. “I’m a resource for you and look forward to seeing more of you in the coming year.”
According to Assistant Superintendent-Curriculum and Instruction Jill Reinhardt, the sessions allow educators to choose topics based on their preferences and the needs of students. She praised the efforts of teachers and said the event, which has been held for around seven years, has more than a 95 percent attendance rate.
Tunstall explained this was the second year of the system using Google software applications with a roll out of Chrome books planned as well. He said the object is to encourage teachers to use technology to differentiate, evaluate and engage students using tools the system already has.
“All the sessions we have are to help students engage with content,” said Executive Director of Elementary Education Jennifer Scott. “It gets everyone back in the swing of school.” She said the conferences have evolved through the years. A planning group from the system attends the North Carolina Technology In Education Society (TIES) February conference and uses inspiration from that event to plan the local conferences.
Workshops on Monday included sessions on free technology tools to use to meet the needs of diverse groups, using technology to prevent, track and manage behaviors in classrooms, technology troubleshooting and “Everything Google.”
David Broyles may be reached at 336-415-4739 or on Twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.