Summer break can be a time to recharge with opportunities for discovery and sparking inspiration. This week we’re sharing summer experiences from two educators that have made a lasting impression on their practice. Kicking us off is Maria Arcodia, Kindergarten Teacher at Brooklyn Arbor School, talking about the importance of teacher connections.
What did you do this summer that inspired you?
I was honored to be invited by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to attend the national convening of Elevating and Celebrating Teachers and Teaching (ECET²) in Seattle, Washington. The three-day long event provided me the opportunity to collaborate with phenomenal teacher leaders from across the country. There were roughly 420 teachers in attendance, which brought forth a plethora of experiences to draw from. We found commonalities in our work with students, colleagues, parents, and community members. We were given the opportunity to select from a wide range of professional development opportunities, so that our PD could meet our individual needs.
Through this convening, I broadened my network of colleagues and was thrilled to continue my journey with ECET²NY, a regional convening of approximately 100 New York pedagogues.
What did you learn or gain from the experience?
I’ve been tremendously inspired by the moving keynote speeches, workshops I’ve attended at ECET² and ECET²NY, and most of all, by the work completed with my colleague circle. Nine teachers came together to discuss problems of practice with a goal of solution-based thinking. We collaborated in an honest environment where we shared our experiences, reached out to one another for support and set a plan in motion to move towards becoming teacher leaders from our classroom.
The ECET² experience provided me with the courage to be, as my Atlanta colleague Annie Cecil shared, a “fearless advocate” for my students. I’ve learned that the most difficult discussions, based on student needs, are the ones that should happen most often. I’ve also harnessed the power of Twitter and social media to expand my network of teachers that I could learn from and lean on for support.
Though I love being a teacher and can’t see myself in any other profession, the politics of education are cumbersome and slowly chip away at our morale. Having attended ECET² in Seattle & ECET²NY in Manhattan, I am now renewed, inspired and reinvigorated—ready for a new year!
The ECET² organizers emphasized that teachers know teaching best and that teachers should be the ones pioneering change in education. Their belief that the work we do everyday should be honored and celebrated means a great deal for our profession. Teachers do not go into education for the accolades; however, knowing that we are supported, trusted and respected makes a tremendous difference. Knowing that the work we do truly matters, empowers us to continue to bring our best selves each day. We leave our daily stressors at the door and stand with our class, smiling and making connections.
What are you excited to explore or implement this school year?
I would like to bring the Problems of Practice Protocol to my school where we can focus on solution-based discussions as we fearlessly advocate for our students and community. I am going to continue to elevate and celebrate other teachers, as it is imperative that all of the effort and love put into educating our future doesn’t go unnoticed.
I am also extremely grateful that I’ll be able to work with iZone this year. During last year’s SCEC, my colleagues and I worked side-by-side with the dedicated tech-savvy entrepreneurs of Edusight who moved our work forward in data collection. This year, I’m excited that my team and I will get to collaborate with a math app start-up, Teachley Analytics. I anticipate my students will grow their math brains with this app and we’ll be able to provide useful feedback to make the app user-friendly and efficient.