Teachers to teach teachers at statewide Common Core summit

June 23, 2015

Thousands of California teachers, who’ve spent recent years simultaneously learning and teaching the new Common Core State Standards, will share ideas about what has worked best in their classrooms at a multi-site conference on July 31.

An expected 20,000 pre-K-12 teachers will lead and attend workshops on best practices they’ve discovered for teaching the new standards at the one-day event, “Better Together: California Teacher Summit.” It will be hosted at 33 college and university campuses throughout the state.

Kitty Dixon, senior vice president for special projects at the New Teacher Center, a Santa Cruz-based nonprofit dedicated to improving teacher effectiveness, said the conference aims to inspire and help teachers struggling to find effective curriculum materials and best practices to help them implement the new standards. These concerns, she said, have been at the top of teachers’ lists when asked what would most help them.

“The Common Core standards don’t merely focus on content but on pedagogy – on how teaching is done, from project-based learning to teaching critical thinking and problem-solving skills and how to persevere,” Dixon said. “We’ve been asking teachers to totally change the look and feel of teaching as well as deepen the content, and that’s a big shift for California.”

The New Teacher Center is organizing the summer event in collaboration with the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities and California State University. The event will be offered at no cost to teachers, and is underwritten by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Claire Cavallaro, dean of the College of Education at Cal State Fullerton, said the event will be structured along the lines of previous one-day Edcamp conferences, where teachers have drawn up the agendas to share what has worked best in their classrooms.

At the “Better Together” summit, the day will begin at each site with a keynote speech by someone who is not a teacher, such as a business leader, politician, or athlete. Afterward, teachers will break into groups focused on topics they will choose that same day. Event organizers say ideas for those workshops might include how best to organize project-based learning, how to improve spoken language in early grades, and how to help students develop more persistence.

The day will also feature 10-minute “ED Talks” modeled after the popular TED Talks, with each college site choosing three teachers to talk about how they’ve been implementing the standards.

Cavallaro said the organizers planned to link the sites together electronically so that attendees could instantly share their experiences, but that they hadn’t yet figured out how this would happen.

At Orange Grove Elementary School in Anaheim, 1st-grade teacher Elena Tinder, a 23-year veteran instructor who recently registered to attend the conference, said she thought the idea of teachers teaching each other about topics they chose on the spot sounded “revolutionary.”

Tinder added that her district began implementing the new standards three years ago, but that she has so far been frustrated by what she described as a lack of adequate coaching in the standards and an absence of effective instructional materials aligned with the Common Core. She said she looked forward to hearing how her colleagues throughout the state have coped with these challenges.

For more information or to register online, visit www.cateacherssummit.com, and follow #CATeachersSummit on Twitter for the latest developments.  

EdSource Today’s coverage of the Common Core is supported by the Gates Foundation and other foundations. EdSource maintains sole editorial control over the content of its coverage. 

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