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By Elizabeth Barcelos

Over 600 educators from across Northern California gathered in Burlingame this weekend. Their mission: to share their best practices with one another and further the education profession by improving teaching and learning conditions for all. 

The conference kicked off with a virtual pre-conference on Thursday, where 60 educators received updates on the new PK-3 initiative from our Instructional and Professional Development (IPD) department. Another 100 attended Friday’s Member Benefits pre-conference, where they dove into sessions on subjects including retirement planning and mental health resources. 

Conference room of educators attending Rosanna Bruzzi's ELD for Success session

ELD for Success immersed attendees in the experience of being an ELD student.

Saturday’s sessions included “ELD for Success,” led by Burlingame Education Association member Rosanna Bruzzi. Bruzzi began the session in French to immerse attendees in the experience of attempting to grasp subject matter in a language they’re not quite comfortable in.  

I love coaching educators on ELD because there’s not enough content out there,” said Bruzzi, who will be offering this training again at the Good Teaching Conference South in March. “I keep it simple, I keep it sweet, and I give you five different strategies that you can master to ensure that your scholars become proficient within two years.” 

Cam Wong leads a session on Vietnamese American culture

Educators advanced their understanding of Vietnamese-American culture.

Another Saturday session was “Delving into Vietnamese American Culture,” facilitated by Lodi Education Association member Cam Wong. Educators explored various aspects of Vietnamese culture and their applications in the classroom. Attendees were able to walk away with knowledge and insights to help students recognize and honor their cultural background while enhancing their own instructional practice. 

At Saturday’s keynote, President E. Toby Boyd’s farewell tour continued by embracing the spirit of good teaching while acknowledging the challenges educators have faced in the past few years.

“We’re here this weekend to celebrate teaching and to share ideas. Teaching is a vastly rewarding profession. But it can also be challenging. I know that’s been especially true during the pandemic closures and the aftermath of teaching and learning under those difficult conditions. So, I want to thank all of you who gave so much of yourselves during the most difficult teaching period ever. This weekend is a good time to relax, recharge, and recommit to this fantastic profession.”

– CTA President E. Toby Boyd  
CTA President E. Toby Boyd checks in on members before his keynote on Saturday.

CTA President E. Toby Boyd checks in on members before his keynote speech on Saturday.

Educators rolled for initiative on Sunday morning during Liberty Education Association member Stephanie Marple’s training, “Using Dungeons & Dragons to Create Engaging Lessons and Increase Curriculum Retention.” Tabletop roleplaying games aren’t just enjoying a renaissance in pop culture; they’re a tool that can be used to build or enhance skills in literacy, math, social studies, problem solving, social-emotional learning, and critical thinking.  

A full room on Sunday morning for Stephanie Marple's session of using D&D in the classroom.

A full room on Sunday morning for Stephanie Marple’s session of using D&D in the classroom.

I came to the D&D session because I’m always trying to find ways to connect with students,” said high school teacher Martha Dodson. “If I can get one more kid to buy into mathematics by using D&D to do that, I’m game. 

CTA Vice President David Goldberg tied it all together at Sunday’s closing session highlighting the power of educator-led professional development. “I want to honor the trainers,” said Goldberg. “These are our members. Like you all, they are taking the time and honoring this work, spending time on their own preparing these trainings.”

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