MISSOULA – Now that school is out, teachers are the ones taking classes.
It may be summer, but instead of taking a break from education, teachers from all across Montana — and other parts of the U.S. — are studying to become better allies for students.
Brightways Learning and Inspired Learning hosted a three-day conference at the Holiday Inn in downtown Missoula. Participants were encouraged to build a network of fellow educators they could utilize later on.
“There’s so much that has to be taught sometimes it’s difficult to learn new things but then also to implement those new things — and so we try to focus a lot on making sure there’s processing time and practical application planning time too,” Brightways Learning Executive Director Jennifer Lutey said.
“So, when you go back to your classroom in the fall you’re not only inspired you have new understandings you have new strategies and you have a team of people that you were able to visit with or maybe call back on to help you when you actually implement in the classroom there’s so much they have to be,” she added.
Their stance is that once a teacher has built their network of support it is then their job to help their students do the same.
“Really, we teach our students that you need five caring and connected adults in your life. And they can be anybody, any caring and connected adult. They can be a teacher, coach, school counselor, mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle,” Brightways Learning Youth Development Specialist Amy McDonald told MTN News.
Summers has spoken at several events like this and says before she began this journey she had no idea that teachers were working this diligently to be better for their students.
“They seem like really engaged and like trying to learn how to be a better teacher and I never knew that was actually a thing,” Summers said.
Summers says she hopes to see teachers take a more vested interest in the well being of each student individually instead of just as a part of the larger whole that makes up their class.
She also hopes they will embrace change and keep showing students how much they care.
Half of the participants who took part in the conference were sponsored to attend the event by several local businesses.
Story by Lauren Heiser, MTN News