Teacher Voices: Attending Summer Conferences Like ISTE Can “Reignite the Fire” for Teaching (Renee Dickerson, Pike Road)

This summer, ABPC Program Coordinator Emily Strickland has been asking teachers in our statewide educator networks how they’re spending their summer break. We have one more contributor! Renee Dickerson is a third grade teacher (the “Community 3 Lead Learner”) at Pike Road Elementary School. Among other learning activities this summer, she attended the always amazing ISTE Annual Conference.

Renee Dickerson
Third Grade Lead Learner
Pike Road Elementary School

1) What books are you reading this summer?

For professional development I am currently reading Kids Deserve It by Todd Nesloney and Adam Welcome along with materials for a course I’m taking in the Orton Gillingham reading methods.

The book by Nesloney and Welcome is subtitled “Pushing Boundaries and Challenging Conventional Thinking.” It asks some key questions: “What if learning was exciting? What if students felt important and empowered every time they walked into the building? What if parents looked forward to calls from their children’s teachers and principals?” It’s inspiring!

2) How will you be continuing your professional learning this summer?

I had the pleasure of attending the ISTE Annual Conference (International Society for Technology in Education) in Philadelphia, PA in June. It was a wonderful experience and I have so much knowledge to bring back and share with my co-workers. Listening to fellow educators share their commitment to a super education for every child also reignited a fire within to keep doing what we are doing, because we are not alone in this fight.

3) What reflection process do you use to think about the past year and plan for the next?

I am one who likes to sit and reflect on the year throughout the year but most of all during the summer. I enjoy writing down notes or “thought jots” of things that worked, need improvement ,or didn’t work and why. I am always looking for ways to grow. Even when something worked as expected, there are ways to improve and make it better.

Life is not about complacency but growing and changing.  I plan to reflect more each week as the year begins and continue to have conversations with my students about their learning. They have another view, another prospective, and their voices are important.

4) What advice would you give a first year teacher on how best to use their first summer as a way to prepare for the next school year?

Use the experts around you! These veterans have lots to offer you. Ask them the hardest and the simplest questions – if you don’t ask, you won’t know. Also, first year teachers, give yourself GRACE! No one came out of college a pro at all things education, so give yourself a chance to grow. Accept failure, but reflect and improve from your failure. When you make it to NEXT summer, take a deep breath, enjoy your break and reflect on things that worked or did not work and start planning how you will make some improvements, based on real experience.

Life is about change and you can be the change. My favorite quote comes from Mother Teresa: “It’s not about how much you do, but how much love you put into what you do that counts.”

Renee Dickerson lives in Pike Road, AL with her husband Josh Dickerson and their two kids, Davis (9) and Anslee (5). She’s been teaching for 12 years. After receiving her undergraduate degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Auburn, she earned a Masters in Education from AU-Montgomery. Renee’s teaching career includes time spent in kindergarten, 1st grade, multi-handicapped preschool, and 3rd grade. “I have loved every grade,” she says. “Every student brings their own strengths, excitements and challenges.”