Last week, more than 175 educators gathered in Oklahoma City for one of Summit Learning’s fall regional convenings. During October, nearly 1,800 Summit Learning teachers and school leaders gathered for training in 14 cities across the country.
Teachers and school leaders from Oklahoma and Missouri joined Summit Learning mentors and trainers at the Renaissance Waterford Hotel for two days of training on a wide range of topics, from tips on teaching math to how to adapt lessons for students with diverse needs.
The opening session kicked off in a packed ballroom of educators. Attendees were invited to place Post-it notes around the ballroom listing their successes so far this school year, as well as their areas for growth. By the end of the session, the walls were full of yellow and pink Post-it notes; teachers had as many ideas for growth and improvement as they had successes to share.
Panel Shares Tips for First Year Summit Teachers
Later in the first day, five Oklahoma teachers, all in their second year with Summit Learning, sat on a teacher panel to provide first year teachers with tips, advice and affirmations. Similar to the opening Post-it activity, the panel discussions centered on successes as well as ideas for growth.
“I’ve taught for 38 years. And now I love Summit,” Tulsa teacher Cheryl Turner told teachers in their first year with Summit Learning. “I see the need for it.”
“It’s been so rewarding to see my kids take ownership of their learning, and celebrate their successes,” Turner says. “And because of Summit, I’m able to have better relationships with my students.”
Another panelist spoke about the need to take “baby steps,” and encouraged first year Summit Learning teachers to focus on one thing at a time so they don’t get overwhelmed — the same advice she gives her students. Teachers in the room, many of whom had cut short their lunch to attend the panel, nodded along in agreement.
Measuring Success — For Teachers and Students
After the panel, Judy Schultz, a teacher at Adams Elementary in Oklahoma City and now in her second year with Summit, shared some of her favorite experiences from her first regional convening a year ago. In one of the sessions that year, Schultz’s team took turns finishing the sentence, “I will be successful if I …” It forced them to prioritize the changes they wanted to make and the outcomes they wanted to see in their students. It was a powerful exercise that she ended up bringing back to her class of students the following week.
“I asked each of my students to finish that sentence and write down a goal,” Schultz said. “It could be anything from passing an assessment to a longer-term goal. As soon as they passed their goal, they would sign it, date it and then put it on a sticky note on the wall. We soon had a wall that was overflowing with sticky notes!”
Two Days of Camaraderie and Support
Throughout the two-day convening, educators took advantage of being around other Summit Learning peers to check in, discuss challenges and get advice from mentors and each other.
At the end, school leaders and teachers left armed with inspiration, advice and actionable steps to improve their practice — and hopefully fill even more walls with sticky notes of success.