Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Teachers' Voices Matter: The ECET2 Conference

March 04, 2014

In education, nothing is more important than great teaching. This is why I’m so excited to recently have spent three days in Utah with 300 plus great teachers from across the country.  

Designed and facilitated “by teachers for teachers,” the ECET2 national convening (a.k.a. Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers) is one of my favorite annual meetings. The energy and “can do” attitude teachers bring as ECET2 leaders, facilitators and participants—just as they bring to their classrooms each day—is palpable. 

At this year’s convening, teachers facilitated a variety of active workshops. They talked through how to lead strategic planning at their school. They modeled the use of videos to analyze their own practice and collaborate with each other. They shared effective structures for co-teaching. And, teachers learned concrete steps they can take to make their voices heard at the district and state levels.

Workshop titles such as “The Cage Busting Teacher” and “Breaking Free of the Faculty Lounge Walls” aptly captured the spirit of the 2014 ECET2 convening.

In the words of teacher leader Ann Rose Santoro of Port Chester, NY, “I think it is so important for teachers to leave their community and see there are other people going through the same challenges and celebrations. ECET2 allows teachers to brainstorm ways to solve problems together. I’m able to see that if other teacher leaders can get through a certain challenge then I can also.”

ECET2 hinges on the fact that nobody knows teaching like teachers. In addition to teacher-designed workshops, the convening also brings teachers together in Colleague Circles, a collaboration structure first started at the 2013 ECET2 convening that allows teachers to continue to learn from each other beyond the meeting. This year, teachers gathered in groups around themes they selected, such as the Common Core State Standards, Student Engagement, and Teacher Leadership. The Colleague Circle members identified the challenge they wanted to tackle as a team and planned how to operate after the convening. Teams selected to become virtual discussion groups, take on a project together, share lessons and practices, and more.

We are excited to see where the 2014 ECET2 teachers take their Colleague Circles. We’ve learned a lot from past Colleague Circle participants, and we will be sharing the stories from both the 2013 and 2014 Colleague Circles over the next few weeks. We are also thrilled to see teachers begin to lead regional ECET2 convenings—from Maryland to Pennsylvania to Kentucky to Tennessee to Florida. And there are others on the horizon!

So, stay tuned to hear more about the ECET2 teachers. You’ll meet the Colleague Circle teams from 2013 and 2014. You’ll get a chance to learn about the district, state and national work of this year’s ECET2 teachers. And, you’ll get a closer look at the ECET2 national and regional conferences. More soon…

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