Exemplary Teachers Get Spectacular Reviews at EL National Conference
Powerful. Passionate. Inspiring. Creative. Evocative. Authentic. These are some of the words educators at the Expeditionary Learning (EL) National Conference in San Diego last week used to describe Master Classes offered by master teacher Jenna Gampel, 1st-grade teacher Jovanne Buckmire, and middle school teacher Valencia Patilla.
This national gathering of over a thousand educators from across the EL Education network kicked off on Wednesday, October 28th with a keynote address by Dr. Camille Farrington, a Senior Research Associate at the University of Chicago, Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR) renowned for her work on academic mindsets—the attitudes or beliefs students have about their work. In her presentation, Dr. Farrington highlighted the impressive work of Conservatory Lab second graders during the snake expedition as one of the best examples she has ever seen of work that has enduring value and purpose for students. During the opening session, Jenna Gampel was also honored as one of five finalist for the EL Klingenstein Teaching Award, bestowed annual to an EL teacher who exemplifies the spirit and values of Expeditionary Learning in his or her daily practice.
In the afternoon, Jovanne Buckmire’s master class, “Full STEAM Ahead: Building Scientists, Engineers, Readers, and Performers with the Three Little Pigs,” captivated participants who busily built playpens with LEGO’s and a bridge strong enough to hold 20 pennies out of balsa wood. Teachers were impressed with this multidisciplinary expedition that culminates in a Broadway musical, remarking “This is the kind of work that reminds me why I work with children.”
The next day, Jenna Gampel’s and EL’s Chief Academic Officer Ron Berger’s master class “Inspiring Excellence: Going Behind the Scenes of a Quality-Work-Classroom” left participants thirsting for more. The class “was like an appetizer” that showed educators how “day-to-day” excellence leads to high-quality final products.”
Valencia Patilla’s master class, “From Frederick Douglass to Ferguson: Critical Conversations About Race in the Secondary Classroom,” was equally inspiring and provocative. Participants appreciated Valencia’s skillful and sensitive facilitation of a tough and important topic, noting “the opening activities was so gripping and activated a deep sense of empathy throughout the entire room.”
Head of School Diana Lam, along with Shalem Livingston, Rhonda Berkower, and Dana Reder also attended the conference to support our master teachers. Jenna, Jovanne, and Valencia, you make us proud!