Teacher dreams

Teacher dreams

July 15th, 2011 by Randall Higgins in News

Patti Hunt from Bradley County Schools greets Cleveland and Bradley County high school teachers Thursday at the beginning of a two-day "Dream, Dare, Do'' conference on shaping 21st Century classrooms, teaching and learning. The conference is sponsored by the federal Smaller Learning Communities grant which the two school systems share.

Photo by Randall Higgins/Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn.-Nearly 200 high school teachers are spending two of their summer vacation days to explore more ways to bring classrooms, teaching and learning into today's world.

Teachers from Bradley Central, Cleveland and Walker Valley high schools began brainstorming last year on how and what they would like to share and learn from their peers. The "Dream, Dare, Do'' conference, which ends today, features local educators leading sessions on a wide variety of topics, including career academies, approaches to math and science and the PE for Life program.

"After this session you will never call yourself a teacher again. You are brain sculptors," said keynote speaker Linda Jordan, a nationally recognized education expert.

The conference is a result from the federal $2.5 million, two-year Smaller Learning Communities grant the school systems jointly applied for last year, Patti Hunt with Bradley County Schools said.

"All three schools did a needs assessment the past year," Hunt said. "Teachers said these are topics where we would like some help toward meeting the needs of our students."

Keynote speaker Linda Jordan, a nationally recognized education expert, said it is "important you have dreams. But it's important that your children have dreams, too."

Jordan, who has served as a teacher in kindergarten through high school in Michigan, said today's classrooms are a different than what grownups experienced when they were in school. The digital world that students now inhabit requires multitasking and that has reshaped how young brains develop and learn, she said.

"In one generation kids are wired totally differently," Jordan said.

Bradley's two school directors, Martin Ringstaff for the city and Johnny McDaniel for the county, joined the morning session Thursday.

"Anytime you get teachers together, collaboration occurs," Ringstaff said.

In the past, high schools have been very compartmentalized "and we are trying to break that mold," he said.

McDaniel cited two criteria for creating successful school programs."Authenticity, being yourself, and realizing you are part of a team," he said.