International Conference inspires hundreds of educators to be the change

More than 350 educators from around the world gathered in Miami for the International Teacher Leadership Conference, a two-day conference aimed toward empowering teachers to influence change in their schools.

The conference, hosted by the University of Florida's Lastinger Center for Learning, kicked off on March 2 with Dr. Phil Poekert sharing his journey from starting as a teacher with Teach for America to becoming the Assistant Director for the Lastinger Center for Learning.

Phil Poekert kicks off the conference by sharing the story of his journey that began with Teach for America to how he has become the Assistant Director for the Lastinger Center.

Poekert's words set the tone for the conference as one that connected personal, professional, and practical experiences around teacher leadership. Conference participants attended a variety of engaging and interactive workshops to explore various perspectives of teacher leadership from around the world. With an array of topics ranging from developing basic skills to become a teacher leader to evaluating effective methods for putting ideas to action, the conference allowed educators to draw upon their unique backgrounds and experiences to innovate new ideas to implement in their schools.

During the first night of the conference, hundreds of attendees joined keynote speaker and Cambridge Professor John MacBeath at the Ball & Chain lounge to enjoy the unique atmosphere of Little Havana while learning about MacBeath's five principles to becoming an effective leader.

Following the presentation, a salsa band set the mood for teachers to sing, dance and loosen up before the final day of the conference.

Dr. Phil Poekert (left) offers a toast with Cambridge Professor John MacBeath (right) at the Ball & Chain Social Event.

On March 3, teachers were given the opportunity to see some of the concepts and practices in action at Miami-Dade and Broward County middle and high schools.

Ten teachers experienced the behind-the-scenes process Flanagan High School utilizes for personalizing academic and social learning. These individuals met with Broward County's District Innovation Design Team to learn how the team analyzes evidence from research to create more effective ways to personalize learning, which was followed by observing a ninth-grade lesson derived from the team’s research.

Teacher leaders meet with Northwestern High School students to discuss how the Algebra Project has helped them establish a strong mathematical foundation for future success. 

Donald Pemberton, Director of the Lastinger Center for Learning, said the center's first international conference was a huge success.

"Educators from across the world left the conference equipped with new concepts and techniques that are vital to enhancing the quality of education and promoting student achievement," Pemberton said.

Donald Pemberton (left), director of the Lastinger Center interacting with Donald Nicolas, a Teacher Fellow, the first day of the conference.