2019 Learning & Growing Conference Session Descriptions

The Science of Happiness – Jeff Baas, WEAC

Join your colleagues across the state for this blended learning opportunity examining the science of happiness focusing on character strengths, positive emotion, resilience, purpose, positive relationships, and creativity. When educators model qualities of compassion, gratitude, and mindfulness, and integrate them into lesson plans, we increase students’ joy and engagement while contributing to a healthy classroom environment.

 

Retirement Planning 101 – Paul Rushmann, WEA Member Benefits

Wisconsin public school employees approaching retirement typically have questions about what they need to do to prepare. This information is appropriate for those within 10+ years of retirement and will provide:

  • An overview of the sources of retirement income available to public school employees, including the Wisconsin Retirement System, Social Security, and personal savings.
  • Information on how to determine your retirement income needs.
  • An understanding of common roadblocks to successful retirement planning.
  • A pre-retirement checklist of important things to consider.
  • Tools and solutions for achieving retirement goals.

 

Teaching about Islam and Muslims: Practical Advice for Educators – John Emery, Executive Director of Islamic Resource Group

Many communities across Wisconsin are seeing a rise in the number of Muslim students enrolled in local schools. Educators are not always aware of the cultural expectations that Muslim students and parents can bring to the classroom. This session will provide three main outcomes for educators: first, this session will demystify Muslim belief and practice and how those practices impact Muslims’ lives at school or work. Second, this session will provide guidance to educators who teach about the religion of Islam as part of the Wisconsin state school curriculum. Third, this session will provide practical guidance for enhancing parent/teacher communications and provide insight into Muslim cultural norms.

John Emery completed an intensive study of the Arabic language in the US Army. He served as a translator and interrogator for nine years, including services in the United States, North Africa, the Persian Gulf, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. John worked for Army Intelligence, Naval Intelligence, NSA, FBI, DIA, and other agencies. After his honorable discharge from the US Army, John completed his B.A. in Global Studies at the University of Minnesota. John is currently a speaker for the Islamic Resource Group, a Minnesota nonprofit dedicated to building bridges of understanding between Minnesota Muslims and the broader Minnesota community. John became a Muslim as an adult and is actively engaged in promoting peace and understanding across faith communities.

 

Micro-Credentials and Alternative Salary Schemes – Dan Beck, Regional Director, WEAC Region 1

The standardized salary schedule grew out of a women’s movement and recognition that men consistently garnered more pay in education for doing the same job. Its objectivity and built-in incentives for college learning caused it to expand from urban areas to 90% of districts nationwide. Only in the last 15 years has a corporate reform agenda – often tied to efforts to privatize schools – suggested that pay be tied to student outcomes instead of inputs teachers can control, such as experience, credentials and level of education.

This session will provide you with tools to evaluate the pros and cons of your own salary system and begin planning ways to make changes to improve the economic status of members.

 

Function-Based Thinking: Its Role in Changing Student Behavior – Robyn Spencer-Beck

When a student struggles academically we use data to inform our instruction.  We determine why a student is making an “academic learning error” and we create an intervention that will support the student in reaching mastery.  The same framework can be used to support students who make “social learning errors”.

This session explores a proactive, systematic solution-seeking framework to address behaviors of concern by looking at the function, the why, of the behavior and applying an intervention(s) that will provide supports, promote positive learning environments and enhance students’ learning.

Robyn Spencer-Beck is a recently retired Special Education (EBD) teacher and administrator who finished her career as the DPI Statewide Coordinator for the Regional Special Education Network (RSN) program.

 

Integrating Mindful Awareness Activities Into Elementary Classrooms – Paula Smith

“Never in the history of calming down has anyone ever calmed down by being told to calm down.”

This workshop will help educators navigate the new role that mindful awareness activities, including breathing and centering exercises and mindful movement/poses, can play in their classrooms.  Through hands-on activities and practice, participants will be introduced to essential evidence-based, trauma-informed practices that can help to promote social/emotional learning as well as stress resilience skills for both students and educators.  Participants will leave with a number of practical tools and resources that can assist in bringing these transformative practices into their classrooms immediately.

Paula Smith earned her MS. Ed. from the University of Wisconsin – Stout and worked as a school psychologist for almost 30 years. She is a Trainer/Mental Health Educator who has worked with the National Resilience Resource Center, the University of Minnesota, and Dunn County, WI.

 

Dynamic Mindfulness Foundations and the Teaching Transformative Life Skills Curriculum (Niroga Instute):  Trauma-Informed Stress Resilience Practices for Middle and High School Classrooms – Paula Smith

This presentation will discuss the impacts of chronic stress and trauma on the brain and behavior, and present Niroga Institute’s Dynamic Mindfulness, a proactive intervention validated by the latest research in neuroscience, trauma and somatic psychology.  Dynamic mindfulness practices include breathing techniques, centering practices and mindful movement/postures that generate self-awareness and emotional regulation and increase our ability to act rather than react.

Dynamic Mindfulness has been field-tested and is one of four mindfulness programs from around the world that meet the stringent research criteria for evidence-based practice set by the national Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL).  Participants will also have the opportunity to experience Niroga Institute’s Transformative Life Skills (TLS) curriculum, a scientifically validated curriculum comprised of 48 scripted 15-minute Dynamic Mindfulness lessons that can be facilitated in diverse settings, with individuals or groups.

Paula Smith earned her MS. Ed. from the University of Wisconsin – Stout and worked as a school psychologist for almost 30 years. She is a Trainer/Mental Health Educator who has worked with the National Resilience Resource Center, the University of Minnesota, and Dunn County, WI.

 

The Myth of the Super Teacher – Judy Foust

Unrealistic expectations, lack of respect, not enough time, budget cuts—the list goes on and on.  As professionals, we always strive to do our best.  But the media, politicians, and non-teaching “experts” have brainwashed us to believe that—unless we give everything we have (and more!) to our career—we are not good enough.

This presentation will help you see that there is a physically and emotionally healthy way to navigate through the stresses of teaching.  And you already have everything you need to be successful.

Together, let’s redefine “Super Teacher,” shall we?

Judy Foust is a public school educator and teacher advocate who was a seventh grade reading specialist for 37 years in four Wisconsin school districts. She then “retired” to teach graduate-level professional development courses for educators through St. Thomas University and Augustana College.

Besides teaching, Judy is a published author and a popular speaker throughout the Midwest.  Her awards include being a Senator Herb Kohl Foundation Teaching Fellow, Walmart’s Wisconsin Teacher of the Year, a finalist in the Disney Foundation Teaching Award, and many local/area citations.

And most amazing of all—she’s only 50 years old!!

Her recipe for success:  A healthy sense of humor, a personal love of learning, integrity, and strong compassion for her students. She considers herself fortunate to have spent her professional life in the career she was meant to have!

Her favorite audiences are educators who “get” her.  Her most unusual speaking engagement was as the keynote motivational speaker for the Wisconsin Funeral Directors Association.  Her hope is that the attendees at the WEAC Region 1Conference are a little more lively!

 

Google in the Classroom & Beyond – Lisa Glaser

This session will explore the advantages of using Google products in the classroom and beyond. We will explore the basics of using various Google products (Drive, Forms & Sheets, Presentations, Keep . . .) in the classroom and beyond. Also, tips and tricks for using Google & Chrome more efficiently and effectively will be shared.  Participants should make sure they have a device with them and should have a Google Account (participants can create a Google account using an existing email address).

Lisa Glaser is currently in her 20th year at Muskego High School and currently teach US History, Introduction to Psychology and Behavior in America. She has also taught American Issues and Spanish 1 – 4 in her time at MHS. Muskego is a 1:1 district and all students 5-8 have been issued Chromebooks, so much of their content is delivered electronically to students. As a social studies teacher, and formerly a Spanish teacher, Lisa focuses on teaching content through literacy to her students.

 

Breakout EDU in the classroom: An Escape Room in a Box – Lisa Glaser

This session will explore the advantages of using Breakout EDU as an instructional strategy to engage students in critical thinking, problem-solving, and application skills. Breakout EDU will be explained and participants will participate in a Breakout during the session. After completing the Breakout, application of content techniques will be discussed. This session requires participants to engage in a Breakout EDU activity.

Lisa Glaser is currently in her 20th year at Muskego High School and currently teach US History, Introduction to Psychology and Behavior in America. She has also taught American Issues and Spanish 1 – 4 in her time at MHS. Muskego is a 1:1 district and all students 5-8 have been issued Chromebooks, so much of their content is delivered electronically to students. As a social studies teacher, and formerly a Spanish teacher, Lisa focuses on teaching content through literacy to her students.

 

Teacher Mental Health and Why It Matters – Barb Van Doorn

We know mental health issues affect students, but what about the staff in our building? National research indicates teaching has become one of the most stressful occupation in the U.S., affecting burnout, lack of engagement, job dissatisfaction, job performance, and some of the highest turnover rates ever.  Learn how it happens, the impact, and what can be done.

Barb VanDoorn is the K-12 School Counselor at Lake Holcombe School. She uses the recognition of 2017 Wisconsin Special Services Teacher of the Year to speak out about mental health issues and is an instructor for Youth and Adult Mental Health First Aid. Barb also promotes and works with Every Teacher a Leader Summits at the regional and State level.  

 

Early Career Educator Roundtable – Ronald “Duff” Martin, WEAC President

An open forum to discuss your experiences and compare notes with other educators who have recently begun their careers. Moderated by WEAC President Ron “Duff” Martin.

 

NEA Cultural Competence Training

Recognizing that culturally responsive instruction helps educators close achievement gaps, NEA offers a program that expands the capacity of educators to serve students from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The cultural Competence Training Program has four learning objectives:

  • Deepen participants’ own cultural self-awareness.
  • Increase their understanding of the link between cultural self-awareness and cultural competence.
  • Identify culturally responsive teaching practices.
  • Share strategies for promoting culturally responsive instruction.

 

Every Teacher a Leader – Amy Traynor, Eau Claire

An overview of the Regional and State Every Teacher a Leader Summit, and how it may benefit your district.