Alaska teachers hone their craft at education conference

Over 1,000 teachers came from across Alaska to the Annual Response to Intervention and Multi-Tiered System of Supporters conference on Saturday.
Published: Jan. 29, 2023 at 11:19 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Over 1,000 teachers attended the annual Response to Intervention and Multi-Tiered System of Supporters conference on Saturday at the Dena’ina Center.

The two-day conference centered on new ways Alaskan instructors can teach and connect with their students.

“We’re focusing in on reading, we’re focusing in on behavior, we’re focusing on that social-emotional component that helps students be successful in the classroom,” professional development director Doug Gray said.

In terms of emotional support, Gray said that they are looking at things like student rest, student sustenance and if students are coming from a good place of living.

Connections between teachers and students was also a focal point for the conference, ensuring teachers will be able to relate to their students.

“One of the keynotes here talked about how important it is to be culturally responsive, to understand your students at a level beyond what you might be used to,” said Dr. Lisa S. Parady, the executive director of the Alaska Council of School Administrators. “Where are they from? What are they interested in? How do we best support them in honoring that culture?”

On top of understanding how to connect with students on a cultural level, teaching educators to recognize trauma in a student was a topic of discussion.

“Giving teachers the tools to be able to support students in the social-emotional area are really what we’re trying to reach and a lot of the presenters that are here today, some of them are focusing on that,” Gray said. “So (what) we’re hoping is that teachers can recognize when a student is in trauma and how they can help support them.”

But for teachers, the conference was also a chance for them to catch up with former colleagues, make new connections and learn new ways to hone their craft.

“You get to meet people that you maybe haven’t worked with in different schools, different districts, at different times in your career,” Nome Public Schools teacher Julie Fabignon-Cross said. “So it’s a time of reunion, but it’s also a time of refreshing because now you’re hearing maybe new ideas, or you get to revisit different strategies.”

This is the first time the conference has been able to meet in person as conferences have been held virtually since the COVID-19 pandemic, but some sessions were streamed online for teachers still in rural Alaska.