I’m fresh off the heels of attending this conference in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and have so many ideas floating around in my brain. Even though it is a relatively small conference, the information presented was so applicable to our schools and communities. I’m going to share just a brief window into my learning in hopes that it will trigger interest and, perhaps, an urge to learning more about the NREA (National Rural Education Association) and this conference in particular.
To be sure, some of the ideas floated are some that we are working on here at CA BOCES and in our communities. One is the concept of Place-Based Learning. Place-based learning engages students in their community, including their physical environment, local culture, history, or people. With place-based learning, students get to see the results of their work in their community. They build communication and inquiry skills, learn how to interact with any environment, and gain a better understanding of themselves, as well as their place in the world. Our Student Programs CoSer delves into this when they work with Exploratory Enrichment and Arts in Education. We also work with the Dream It, Do It program, connecting STEM and career opportunities in our region. But in many workshops we offer on our registration system, I can see that connection as well.
Another high-profile topic during the conference centered around teachers in rural districts. What are some strategies we can use to address rural teacher workforce challenges? What are the assets and challenges that exist in small communities and how would a rural responsive teacher education program better prepare teachers? How can school districts cultivate rural teacher resilience to prevent burnout?
These issues and more were the hot topics at this conference. All 50 states were represented, and the focus was squarely on rural schools and how services can be shared. And this focus warmed my BOCES heart! So many schools struggle to give teachers and students the tools and services needed to support learning and growth.
Our CA BOCES schools are not perfect. Each has its own challenges and battles. But just know that our Professional Development Team and our Learning Resources Team is here as an educational partner to equip and provide instruction and resources to mitigate that need.
This conference was educational in many ways. However, it only bolstered my belief that your CA BOCES is an Essential Partner!
By: Alexandra Freer, CA BOCES Learning Resources
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