Two months into the school year and I still don’t feel like my family has settled into a new normal! In this changing educational climate, parents and kids alike are trying to learn a new system. But I wonder if we sometimes forget another group who is striving to adapt: our children’s teachers. They are learning a whole new way of teaching and learning, and I have enormous respect for the effort and heart they are putting into it. One recent opportunity to aid them in this gargantuan task was a conference specifically for educators of highly capable students.
The Washington Association for Educators of the Talented and Gifted (WAETAG) recently held their annual conference virtually. It was packed full of training and helps for both teachers and administrators. PATH was pleased to be able to sponsor one Tahoma employee’s registration for the conference and Tahoma sponsored an additional employee. The two attendees were Kristin Conklin and Lindsay Henry, both elementary instructional coaches. I also participated in the conference and had the chance to compare notes with Kristin and Lindsay. Here are some of their takeaways:
- “There are a few differentiation strategies to promote thinking that I will bring back to our amazing Discovery teachers to help meet the needs of Tahoma's highly capable students. One is the use of moving quotes to engage students by pausing, reflecting and then share their thinking.” -Kristin
- “Another session that stands out to me as having an immediate impact on our Discovery program was hosted on Thursday by Emily Kircher-Morris. Her session titled, ‘Using Metacognitive Skills to Improve Executive Functioning’ was fascinating! While the session delved deep into brain research, she was intentional about providing connections between the brain and the importance of fostering metacognition skills in highly-capable students. I appreciated learning more about her research and success with micro-goal setting and how students are using her tools to grow their executive functioning skills and to take ownership of their learning!” -Lindsay
- “The whole notion of using empathy as a verb was eye opening for me and one concept that I think teachers will agree with. Being aware of the 9 Empathetic Competencies that Dr. Borba outlined along with the stories she shared will be something that sticks with me, that I will share with teachers and I will keep in the forefront of my mind as well.” -Kristin
- “Kircher-Morris…shared several goal-setting documents that I was eager to share with our Discovery team at Lake Wilderness! As a team, we were able to have some great conversations about how we might use these tools with students connected to our Future Ready program. Thank you for providing this opportunity!” -Lindsay
Their comments echo the theme of this year’s conference, Head to Heart. As parents and educators of the gifted, we are striving to see our students’ needs, in both the cognitive and affective domains. The more adults in our children’s lives who understand their unique characteristics and potential, the more they will be empowered to reach their potential. As Kristin told me, “We've got to find a way to get our Discovery teachers to attend this conference.” I couldn’t agree more! Next year, PATH would love to get parents to work together to sponsor even more Tahoma employees, especially some classroom teachers, to participate in WAETAG’s conference. I am confident that having focused professional development for Tahoma teachers in these areas will have long-lasting benefits for our children.