A Simple Way to Become a Better Teacher

NCHESome years ago, as a middle school teacher, I attended a national conference where I heard Jane Goodall speak chimpanzee. I returned to my classroom and enthusiastically shared this memorable experience with my students. They were fascinated that a woman could speak like a chimp, and I was able to model for my students the joys of being a life-long learner.

Effective teachers are learners. And one of the best ways for teachers to learn is through attending conferences focused on their content area.

A group of FLVS staff and teachers recently attended the National Council for History Education (NCHE) annual conference in St. Augustine, Florida. The NCHE conference included prominent keynote speakers, historical excursions, and sessions presented by history educators from around the country.

FLVS History Teachers Shauna Falanga-Liverotti and Jessica Mariani presented “Cooperative Strategies for Historical Engagement.” From the FLVS Curriculum department, Samantha Bowman, Suzanne Williams, and Kimberly Testa presented “A.P. U.S. History – It’s all about the Skills.”

So, why should teachers attend conferences and symposia? To become better teachers.

Conferences are an opportunity to stay excited about teaching. Shauna Falanga-Liverotti explains, “Attending a national conference like NCHE always seems to recharge my batteries as an educator; I gain fresh ideas and a renewed sense of purpose.”

Conferences provide a national forum for teachers to share their expertise and learn from others. For Kimberly Testa the NCHE conference was an opportunity to showcase FLVS curriculum products in blended learning classrooms, to remain current on trends in the non-virtual classroom environment, and to determine new curriculum needs.

Samantha Bowman’s “Aha” moment came from a session about Japanese internment during World War II. “It was fascinating and a chance for me to meet someone who had actually lived in a relocation center. I knew a fair amount about the relocation of Japanese Americans, but there were details that I had not thought about before that he discussed.” She added, “This conference was special. Where else can you leave a session with someone like the Japanese American and walk with a prominent historian/author like Carol Berkin to hear ABC News commentator Cokie Roberts speak?”

Conferences are great places to network—to generate connections that help your students, inform your practice, or introduce you to an opportunity to make a difference to the profession. Samantha Bowman put it this way, “Every time we present about virtual education, it is a chance for us to make connections. “

I have never forgotten hearing Jane Goodall speak chimpanzee, and I bet our teachers attending the NCHE conference will remember this conference and its impact for years to come.

Laura Wakefield welcomes attendees to hear Cokie Roberts speak


Post by Laura Wakefield, FLVS Grants Coordinator

and Member of the Board of Directors for the National Council for History Education



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