Teachers prepare for school year with Back to School Conference

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 20, 2015

Rowan-Salisbury School System teachers took a break from hanging bulletin boards and rearranging desks this week to attend the district’s annual Back to School Conference.

Elementary teachers met Tuesday, and middle and high school teachers gathered Wednesday.

“It’s our big professional development day,” said Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody.

All summer long, teachers attended professional development conferences and seminars. This week, they brought back all that knowledge to share it with their peers.

“It’s the day when our teachers get to share best practices with other teachers,” Moody said, adding that they use the time to share new ideas.

“It’s to inspire and motivate for the upcoming school year,” she said.

Louann Durham, a teacher at East Rowan High School, said she spent her morning in math professional development sessions.

She learned about problem-based learning, a practice she wants to take back to her classroom.

Problem-based learning “makes it interesting” to students she said, adding that they enjoy solving real world problems.

“There’s been a couple of really good sessions,” said Renee’ Fox. “They’ve all been different, but they’ve been focused about a growth mindset.”

West Rowan Middle School Principal Derek McCoy gave a talk on using technology in the classroom.

Ashley Dohme, a teacher at Knox Middle School, said she learned that it’s not the tools teachers use, but how they’re using them.

“Kids are different now,” she said, adding that they learn differently.

Dohme led a session on grant writing for teachers to attend, as well.

While attending the International Society for Technology in Education conference earlier this year, she learned about a number of new things she wanted to implement. But there’s no way she could ever afford to bring it into her classroom.

“We found out about all this awesome technology we want,” she said.

She attended a session at the technology conference about grants and brought what she learned back to her fellow Rowan-Salisbury teachers at the Back to School Conference.

Jennifer Brown said the Back to School Conference gives teachers “awesome tools” to use throughout the school year and that it’s “neat to be with other teachers in the district.”

Teachers flowed through several breakout sessions of their choice throughout their day at the conference, including blended instruction, different technology techniques, child trauma, literacy, Twitter, Achieve3000, Schoology, augmented reality and brain breaks. They also attended a keynote session, presented by Brad Fountain with Discovery Education, and an Inspire Session.

Fountain talked about being a risk taker and trying new things. He showed teachers how to use different mobile applications in the classroom and shared tips for connecting with others.

“Take the ideas you can do,” he said. “You can’t do it all.”

The Inspire Session was a “thank you” for teachers in the form of a video filmed by students.