Becoming “Better Together” at the California Teachers Summit

by Heather Nelson

All teachers know the importance of professional development, but some don’t get enough opportunities to hone their skills or share insightful learning experiences. Through Better Together: California Teachers Summit, happening on July 27 at locations around the state including Azusa Pacific University, hundreds of educators will have the chance to take the lead in learning, growing, and strengthening their craft.

The highly anticipated event—which is open to all Pre-K-12 California teachers, teacher candidates, school administrators, and other educators—is now in its fourth year. The theme of this year’s summit, “It’s Personal: Meeting the Needs of Every Student,” gets right to the heart of what matters to California educators.

Meeting Student Needs

“It all begins with the students,” explains Angela Guta, Ph.D., associate professor for the School of Education at APU. “‘Meeting the Needs of Every Student’ is bringing it back to the core of why we teach—that connection we make with students and seeing that ‘aha’ moment.”

Joining together to dive into resources, the latest technology, and peer-to-peer experiences with other teachers, educators attending the California Teachers Summit will have the opportunity to develop and refine the skills needed to offer differentiated instruction to each student. “This year’s conference theme comes back to the core of what it’s all about,” Guta said. “Meeting those student needs.”

“By Teachers, For Teachers”

The California Teachers Summit sets itself apart from other conferences and district-specific professional development sessions with its “by teachers, for teachers” premise. Edcamp-style sessions—a collection of pop-up discussions that attendees lead cooperatively—make up the heart of the summit. Teachers are encouraged to express topics they are interested in learning about, and a fellow educator with expertise in that area can offer to host a session that day.

This format gives teachers a voice in their training—something traditional professional development doesn’t always afford. Coupled with TED Talk-style seminars and keynote speaker Sir Ken Robinson, the summit offers California teachers the chance to learn from well-respected authorities in the field of education, as well as their fellow educators.

The peer-to-peer training is especially vital in addressing California’s current educational climate. The state’s students represent a unique make-up of social, cultural, and political diversity. With teachers learning from one another and gaining insight from peers in similar schools and classrooms around the state, it paves the way for student needs to be better served by teachers who know and understand them. This type of training is crucial for attendees working on their teaching credentials, such as graduate students, because it gives aspiring educators the chance to learn from teachers who are currently working in California classrooms. For experienced educators, the summit offers new avenues of energy and inspiration for their classrooms and schools.

Inspiration to Grow as an Educator

For many educators, identifying each student’s strengths and helping them grow is a source of daily inspiration and motivation. Every student is unique, and learning to meet individual needs is an ever-present goal and challenge in the classroom. This year’s California Teachers Summit looks to tackle just that. The event creates an opportunity to talk freely with colleagues and peers—the people who have the knowledge and empathy needed to help educators improve professionally.

Peter Paccone, a social studies teacher at San Marino High School with 30 years of experience, will give an EdTalk at APU during the July summit and has participated in previous years’ events. He notes that the value of the summit lies in teachers finding inspiration in one another.

“The California Teachers Summit no doubt offers seasoned teachers a chance to coach the next generation of teachers,” Paccone says. “No matter how many years of experience you may have, the awards or recognition you have received, or the words of praise regularly directed your way by your students, their parents, and your administrators, the California Teachers Summit will leave you feeling inspired to become an even better teacher.”

Register Now for the California Teachers Summit

Recommended for You

School of Education

Distinguished Educators Make a Difference in Students’ Lives

Educator Hiring Fair: Bringing Teaching Jobs and Networking Opportunities to the Community