Little Schoolhouse on the Prairie

The Pedagogy of a Rural Educator


Leave a comment

Time with Teachers: The Annual SDSTA/SDCTM Conference

Every year I look forward to the first weekend of February. Being a teacher from South Dakota, you might wonder why I would look forward to any weekend between December and March. The first weekend of February is the Joint Conference of the South Dakota Science Teacher’s Association and the South Dakota Council of Teachers of Mathematics. What does that mean? I get to spend time with teachers! It is rare for a teacher in a rural district to have another teacher in their building that teaches the same content area. You can read about this in my post: What to do When YOU are the Department. And when we get together, we can’t stop talking!

This year I presented for the second time. I did a presentation about the basics of Twitter, and how it can be used for professional development of teachers. It was very similar to the presentation I did last year, which you can read about here. I was excited to attend sessions hosted by the South Dakota Highway Patrol on crash reconstruction and the science of drug dogs. I also attended sessions by Sanford Promise and one where veteran teachers were able to interact with pre-service teachers. Although I’ve been teaching for five years, I still find this session to be one that I think I learn more in than I teach!

Our keynote speaker this year was Bill Zubke, a retired teacher and motivational speaker. He encouraged us to live with love, learning, laughter, and to leave a legacy. It was incredibly entertaining and encouraging. What a great way to get geared up to go back to our classrooms on Monday!

I truly look forward to the conversations I have with the science and math teachers each year at our conference. The weekend helps keep me going through the challenging days and long nights necessary to do my job. It also motivates me to do more and work harder in order to live up to the great legacy that South Dakota teachers have built. I look forward to many more years of spending time with teachers!


1 Comment

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 22 – PLN

What does your PLN look like, and what does it to for your teaching?

“If you aren’t on Twitter, you need to be!”.

I bet I said this 20 times last Thursday and Friday. I was asked to attend the Midwest Regional Noyce Conference in Omaha, NE. This is a conference where pre-service teachers, teachers in the field, Master Teaching Fellows, and faculty and staff from many different colleges and universities come together and share ideas and experiences. The common thread through all is that they were in some way involved in the Noyce Scholarship Program. This program is specific to science & math teaching and works to get highly qualified teachers into high-need areas, like urban and rural schools. I received one of these scholarships while I was in college. During the conference, I was part of the “Voices from the Field” panel, as well as a co-leader in a presentation about building a PLN!

I was very excited to share the amazing world of Twitter with everyone there. I started tweeting right away, hoping to connect with someone at the conference who was also a Twitter veteran. Unfortunately, the only people tweeting seemed to be sitting next to me – two other attendees from my university. At that moment, I knew my mission for the two-day conference. Get people on Twitter!!

I can’t express how much Twitter and PLN I’ve built on there have done for me. Here are a few examples:

  • Discovered the 30 Day Blog Challenge from @TeachThought
  • Collaborated with Jessica Anderson (@TriSciCurious) on a Virtual Learning Project where our students connected with each other to do a project. (Her students are about 1000 miles from mine!)
  • Connected with Dave Burgess (@burgessdave), author of Teach Like a Pirate, and I was able to see him speak live as well as on a Google Hang-Out.
  • Found out about South Dakota EdCamp, and connected with other SD educators before and after the EdCamp.
  • Have been involved in many chats, learned a ton, got support, gave support, and have really grown as an educator!

“If you aren’t on Twitter, you need to be!”

Check it out sometime, you will be amazed at the resource it is for educators!