Educators reignite passion at local conference
The national-level Get Your Teach On conference offered locally was enjoyed by K-12 educators.
“When we impact teachers, we impact kids.”
– Hope King – Get Your Teach On, co-founder
Douglas County K-12 educators became students for a day. Instead of traveling to a professional learning conference, an exciting opportunity came to town. On the first Friday in February, educators such as teachers, counselors, principals and superintendents gathered at the Douglas County Fairgrounds for a Get Your Teach On (GYTO) mini conference. The national-level conference showed attendees from twelve school districts how to create magic in a classroom.
Generous financial support from The Ford Family Foundation and the Douglas Regional Educator Network (REN) made it possible for the 169 participants to attend at no cost.
“We want to help educators feel reinvigorated and fall back in love with teaching,” said Reina Pike, educator services coordinator for Douglas ESD. “This conference is one way to offer educators support.” Pike is also the Douglas Regional Educator Network coordinator, an entity that is committed to increasing educator retention throughout the county.
Hope and Wade King, GYTO founders led the event. Since 2016 this energetic husband-and-wife team is known for helping educators find the joy in teaching. The Kings are experienced teachers from Atlanta, Georgia and are also national speakers, authors and podcasters. They also offer resources on social media are considered celebrities in the teaching community.
“When we impact teachers, we impact kids,” Hope King said. “We wrap around teachers.” She explained that there’s the human side of teachers. “We want to keep the best teachers in this profession, and we offer a space of support.” The other side is the craft of teaching because teaching is an art. GYTO helps teachers make school a place where students want to learn.
GYTO is designed to meet the needs of educators and students. The conference opened with “More than a teacher” and “Six steps to your best instruction” presentations, followed by sessions that included games, challenges, breakout groups, small group discussions and even singing. The unexpected activities filled the atmosphere with an energy of a dynamic classroom experience.
New and seasoned educators can take this immersive learning style back to their schools, knowing that research shows that when students participate in an experience the retention of what was learned increases.
Bringing the GYTO conference to this area started with Tabatha Roderick. She’s a middle grade math and science teacher at Camas Valley Charter School and a coordinating member of REN. Roderick was looking for resources to increase student engagement. Through a Google search, she discovered GYTO and started listening to the Kings’ podcast. As a result, she introduced GYTO to Douglas REN and teamed up with three charter schools, Camas Valley, Days Creek and Elkton to champion the idea of bringing a GYTO conference to local educators. “GYTO provides inspiration for teachers and offers a community of support.” said Roderick. “Douglas REN would like to keep the momentum of what we learned and follow up with educators to see what techniques they’ve implemented.”
Tony Cannon, a counselor at Brockway Elementary School in Winston, said the education team decided to attend as a group. “This was a chance to review teaching techniques learned in college,” Cannon said. He works closely with teachers to create systems that support students and will use the inspiration learned at the conference to strengthen systems.
Another educator eager to offer feedback about the conference is Whitney Ward. She teaches kindergarten in Drain at North Douglas Elementary School and has six years of teaching experience. She couldn’t attend a GYTO conference in Florida and was thrilled to learn about this local opportunity. She attended with several coworkers. “I love making things fun, but I love learning more,” she said. “I love the connections I make with the little ones.” Ward understands the important influence that a teacher can have on a student. She credits one of her high school teachers for turning her life around. Ward wants to make sure that her students have positive experiences learning.
“It was amazing to see so many educators rediscovering the joy of their profession,” Pike said. “They were laughing and learning together, and remembering why they loved teaching. We hope they bring this energy back to their classrooms and help kids remember the joy of learning.”
This was the first time a GYTO event has been held in Oregon. Many teachers expressed appreciation for being able to attend with colleagues from around Douglas County.
GYTO meets a need to provide relevant and current teaching strategies to educators. For more information, visit www.getyourteachon.com
To learn about Douglas REN, visit www.douglasesd.k12.or.us/regional-educator-network
To learn about The Ford Family Foundation, visit www.tfff.org