Contra Costa County Educators Featured at Annual Education Summit

Contra Costa County Educators Featured at Annual Education Summit
Posted on 08/06/2018

HAYWARD, Calif., August 3, 2018 – On Friday, July 27, Contra Costa County educators were well represented at the fourth annual Better Together: California Teachers Summit, held at CSU East Bay, in Hayward. The morning’s opening welcome was given by Contra Costa County Office of Education’s Deputy Superintendent Lynn Mackey, and a few hours later, Contra Costa’s current Teacher of the Year Paula Raj (West Contra Costa Unified School District) served as a keynote speaker.

The campus’ Studio Theater audience was filled with K-12 teachers of various years of experience, but they all felt it was important to take time out and learn new things during their fleeting days of summer vacation. This year’s theme was: “It’s Personal: Meeting the Needs of Every Student.”

During her morning welcome and message, Deputy Superintendent Mackey captivated the filled room on why teachers mean so much to her: “I had dropped out of middle school, and when I had returned to school [Diablo Valley College] as a young adult, I was mess. I had a young daughter, on Welfare, and had a middle-school education. Thankfully I had an English teacher who saved me. She didn’t provide any TV-style heroics, she didn’t become my social worker, or got involved with my messy life – it was just one lesson at a time, with plenty of encouragement. She would always tell me: ‘you can do it’ and made me feel like my ideas were interesting. She taught me how to think and learn. She saved my life.” As her story continued to the present day, Mackey mentioned a number other wonderful teachers that kept he on track, and thanked them as well.

In the early afternoon, Raj presented a stimulating EdTalk session titled: Let’s Take the Journey Together in the filled Studio Theater. The audience was in full attention as many could relate to Raj’s passage through her teaching career. “I always wanted to be a teacher, even when I was three years old,” remembers Raj. “For whatever reason, my parents decided not to send me to kindergarten, and, in a peculiar way, I believe this played a major role in my becoming a teacher. Every morning, after my brother headed off to school, I lined up my teddy bears, to make my own class, and of course I was always the teacher!” Many of the attending teachers chuckled while relating to the scene Raj just painted. “Naturally, entering first grade was an amazing milestone for me and every year thereafter filled me with feelings of excitement and enjoyment.  In my eyes, all my teachers were smart, they were beautiful, - they were perfect– and I wanted to be like them!”

Along with briefly touching on her personal teaching experience, the Brooklyn native relayed some excellent nuggets that only an outstanding and experienced teacher could do: “Each one of us must avoid isolating ourselves. Just as we listen to our students’ voices, and hear their silence too, let’s listen to each other. Don’t be afraid to ask another staff member for help or advice. Especially for you new teachers, see if some faculty members will let you observe them in action. It is not a sign of weakness or failure to ask for help in growing your practice. Talking with colleagues can be done in an informal way as well.  Collaborating with colleagues can be both helpful and inspirational. Yes, it takes time and it may slow us down, but afterwards we can always approach our classes with renewed energy – and often new and better ideas.”

Raj concluded her tremendous presentation by telling her audience: My hope for all of you here today is that you will experience the great joy and sense of fulfillment that teaching brings to my life, even when the students may not always be as warm and fuzzy as our teddy-bear students.”

The California Teachers Summit is a free statewide day of learning and networking that is open to all California PreK-12 teachers, teacher candidates, school administrators, and other educators. One of 30+ locations across the state, CSU East Bay welcomed hundreds of Bay Area teachers to share ideas, join a teacher network, and learn effective strategies for implementing the new California Standards in their classrooms. The Summit features keynote addresses by education leaders and breakout sessions presented by local educators on timely topics such as the California Standards in English/Language Arts and Math, STEAM teaching, and the Next Generation Science Standards.

More information, a list of event locations, and online registration is available at CATeachersSummit.com. Follow #CATeachersSummit for up-to-date information.

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