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Majors & Degrees

ECET2 conference to celebrate teacher leadership

February 19, 2018

“Of all the hard jobs around, one of the hardest is being a good teacher,” said Maggie Gallagher, an American writer.

Dakota State University instructor Katie Anderson knows how hard it is to be a good teacher. Anderson, who was the 2013 South Dakota State Teacher of the Year, also understands how important it is to show appreciation to those teachers, so she is helping organize an upcoming state conference to do just that.

Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teachers and Teaching (ECET2) conferences have been held around the nation since 2012; on March 10, the first-ever ECET2 conference will be held in South Dakota. The goal of the ECET2 is “to encourage teacher leadership and celebrate the profession,” Anderson said. “It’s this idea that makes the conference unique and exciting.”

The free conference will take place at Harrisburg’s North Middle School. The group’s initial goal was 100 teachers, but 130 are signed up, and there is a waiting list, Anderson stated. This high turnout is based on teachers’ desire to have a voice in their profession, she said. “The ‘by teachers, for teachers’ conference, is aimed at leadership, and helping teachers find their voice is what sparks the interest.”

Funding for the conference comes through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which provides grant money to NSTOY (National State Teachers of the Year); NSTOY in turn shares that grant money with regions around the country to sponsor the conferences.

Teachers will act as keynote speakers, telling inspiring stories from their own practice; breakout sessions will feature teacher leadership with examples of leading from the classroom. Time is also built in for collaboration through “Colleague Circles,” where teachers will talk about various problems of practice with colleagues from across the state; this also helps teachers grow their professional learning network. After the conference, “we plan to continue the energy through follow-ups, Twitter chats, or video conferences, so topics discussed will not be talked about and then forgotten,” Anderson said. There is also the possibility of making this an annual event, she added.

“DSU College of Education professors are presenting at the conference and attending sessions, sharing their expertise and enthusiasm for teaching and learning,” said Dr. Crystal Pauli, dean of the College of Education. “This type of outreach shows the college is committed to supporting not only our own faculty who are involved with the conference at various levels but also shows support for the K-12 teachers,” she stated.

Through this outreach, faculty stay abreast of current trends in curriculum and assessment in K-12, Pauli said, which in turn will help prepare future teachers, which has been DSU’s mission since 1881.

“We have the responsibility to collaborate with and support the profession,” Anderson said, “and as the profession changes, we as a College of Education will have more knowledge to prepare our students to enter that profession.”