When educators look back at this moment, they might say 2019 was the year when everything in education started to shift. We think it will be in large part because of a spark that began at the Conference for Exceptional Children in Indianapolis. We already will remember this day for the record cold temperatures that stormed across the country. But something really special happened at that conference and we were lucky enough to witness this bit of history.
Mindful Practices’ founder, Carla Tantillo Philibert was asked to be the keynote speaker at the inspiring Conference for Exceptional Children. Carla and CEC go back years and the community of educators at this conference have become like family. So this historic day was years in the making. Record low temperatures hit Indiana and all across the United States but that did not deter so many of the fearless, rockstar teachers from attending. The warmth and energy of this conference made it easy to forget the incredible polar vortex looming outside.
During the keynote address, Carla emphasized two major issues that are affecting education.
Problem 1: Students falling through the cracks.
Problem 2: Teachers leaving the profession.
For years, Carla’s Mindful Practices team have addressed the growing problems of teacher and student wellness across the country. They have addressed this with school programming, professional development, and innovative SEL books. But something else has been stirring in all of us at Mindful Practices and we can feel it across the country as well. During Carla’s keynote, she talked about how her staff were listening to the problems around the country and getting a very clear and urgent message: Something else is needed and something else can be done.
The CEC conference was just the moment to take this first step, to wake up that persistent tug at our hearts that made us want to be an educator in the first place.
So what do we do now? How do we solve this? Carla shared two very real and tangible actions we must take as educators.
Solution 1: Connect with Students. Use new technology tools to connect with every one of your students so that every student has a caring adult in contact with them everyday. The Class Catalyst tool was born out of this very need to connect teachers with students.
Solution 2: Connect with other teachers. Join I Teach Because.com and be part of this amazingly strong and talented community of positive, inspiring educators that restore respect for themselves and for this noble profession. Teachers need to take care of themselves to be able to take care of their students.
The attendees at the CEC conference took that first step and shared why they teach. Their responses were as diverse and awe-inspiring as the students we serve. We will look back at that unbearably cold day in Indianapolis and remember: there was a burning hot spark in that cold that started it all. We will say that was the moment teachers and the education of our nation’s children began to change.