Algonquin teacher to attend national teaching conference in Utah
By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Northborough/Southborough – Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS) teacher Brittany Burns has recently been invited to attend the Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers (ECET2) conference in Snowbird, Utah, Feb. 17-19. The event focuses on developing individual teacher leadership skills and supporting teachers to collaborate nationally.
Burns, 29, who is currently teaching holocaust and human behavior, law and society, and sociology, has been working with the nonprofit educational foundation Facing History and Ourselves since 2006. She been a member of the teacher advisory board since 2009. The organization, which focuses on human rights and social justice education, nominated Burns for the convention.
Currently in her seventh year at ARHS, Burns believes that a successful teacher has to have vision, passion, and perspective.
“An effective teacher has to have the ability to see the ‘whole’ kid and to be open to different learning styles, to remember that the most important things we teach usually don’t come from a textbook and usually can’t be measured with an exam,” she said. “Most importantly, an effective teacher never stops learning and striving to become better.”
The ECET2 conference, organized by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will provide this opportunity for Burns.
For educators heading to the convention, technology will be a hot button issue. According to Burns, educators are continually trying to find ways to integrate new technology into the classroom. Burns believes that technology is not a replacement for good teaching and innovation. Rather, she said, it should be a tool to improve student learning and enrich the curriculum.
“I think technology obviously plays a very important role in society today and kids absolutely need to be tech-savvy in order to be successful, but sometimes I think educators get so wrapped up in whatever is new and trendy that we sometime lose sight of its purpose,” offered Burns. “I see a tendency to invest a lot of money in the new and latest thing without really asking ourselves how it’s improving student learning. There are some really excellent uses for technology and social media in the classroom. I’ve started using Twitter for my classes and I have seen some really wonderful paybacks in terms of communication and conversation. When kids are in my classroom, though, I want to take advantage of our face-to-face time and not necessarily have them head-down in an iPad.”
Burns is looking forward to the conference and hopes to represent both ARHS and Facing History and Ourselves well and make connections with other teachers. She is also hoping to bring back new ideas and resources that she can share with her colleagues.
“As with any conference, I am excited to meet other teachers from around the country and to be exposed to new resources,” she said. “One of the things that I have learned about teaching is that we are so much better when we work together. I am blessed to have an incredible network of colleagues – locally from Algonquin, but also nationally from my work with Facing History and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. My hope is to extend that network and get to know more teachers so that together we can do better for our students. At the end of the day, though, it’s always about my students and becoming a better teacher for them.”
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