Breakout sessions help educators "innovate to great" at Quincy Conference

Kim Bearden, a keynote speaker at Quincy Conference, speaks to a crowd at Quincy High School's gym on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. Bearden, a teacher and cofounder of the Ron Clark Academy, talks about her learning experiences during her time as teacher in Georgia. | H-W Photo/Katelyn Metzger
Katelyn Metzger 1|
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Oct. 12, 2019 12:01 am

QUINCY -- Jake Miller set out to change mindsets about technology.

Miller, host of the Educational Duct Tape podcast, uses it to make ed tech tools as simple to reach for as duct tape to fix a problem.

"Go into your classroom thinking what am I trying to achieve for my students today, to make my teaching life easier and more efficient to benefit my kids," Miller said. "Then select a tool to address that problem, run with it and make improvements for kids."

Miller's breakout session drew a standing-room-only crowd Friday at Quincy Conference, where some 2,100 area educators were looking to "innovate to great" for their classrooms.

"It's great conversations with people doing exactly what you're doing, brainstorming new ideas and problem-solving," Liberty Elementary School Principal Jody Obert said.

"I hope to gain a lot more insight into things like classroom management and utilizing technology in the classroom to give my students and myself a better foundation going forward," second year Southeastern High School business and social studies teacher William Schaffer said.

"I love learning. That's why I love teaching. I'm just perpetually curious, and I love learning from other teachers," said Chaddock teacher Michelle Bickhaus, who offered a breakout session on overcoming adverse childhood experiences through literature.

Anna Hechler offered a look at what goes on in the Western School District and its Innovation Lab while learning from other districts.

"As educators, we don't get to go to different schools and see what they're doing," said Hechler, Western's instructional tech coach. "With the presentations, we're able to get a glimpse of what other schools are doing and bring it back to our school."

Hechler described the lab and how classes utilize it while giving participants some hands-on experience with the technology "to see what it's all about and see if they want to bring it back to their district," Hechler said.

And while the presentations are important, the conversations also make a difference.

"It's nice because you have people with different levels of experience you can rely on, network with, connect with mentors in the field to help you as a resource," Schaffer said.

"It's not just about what you're sitting and getting but about the relationships we have as educators and reconnecting with them. I see so many smiles, so many people reconnecting, so many people getting together with old colleagues," said Shelley Arns, one of the four conference co-directors.

"I hope they walk away with something that will make a difference in how they approach the classroom, how they build relationships with their students, their colleagues and hopefully renew everything that is special to them in being an educator."