WALKERTOWN, N.C. -- School isn’t in session yet, but hundreds of educators with the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School System are already hard at work. Everyone gathered at Walkertown High School is participating in the 2nd Annual Collaborative Learning Conference.
“Often times, education is done in silos,” said Tiffany Krafft, principal at North Hills Elementary in Winston-Salem. “Teachers don’t have the opportunity to talk to other teachers and say ‘here’s what worked in my classroom, you could tweak it this way,’ and when we give them that time to do so, it builds synergy.”
Keynote Speaker Eric Jensen’s message focused on facilitating change within schools and helping the most vulnerable population-students living in poverty- succeed. “My message to teachers is you have far more influence than you think you do, and working with students from poverty can actually be meaningful and even joyful once you have the skillset that can make it all happen,” Jensen said.
And for the second year, attendees could apply for professional development grants through the Winston-Salem Foundation’s Peer Project, a five-year, $2 million commitment. Science teacher Rebecca Craps received the grant and put it towards a program in Belize where she and other educators studied the region’s ecology.
“Kids really learn when you bring it to life for them,” Craps said. “We spend so much time teaching the outside world from the inside and being immersed in it for 9 days really helped me realize that I need to take my students outside into the natural world to let them learn about what`s out there, and to explore and let them be curious.”
1,200 staff members attended the conference over a two-day period in early August.