PB Connect 22

National educators set stage for eighth annual PB Connect
Posted on 01/27/2022
Andrea Jones

Three national education trendsetters were featured among over 50 sessions for staff to choose from during the eighth annual PB Connect held Tuesday, Jan. 18, across the Poplar Bluff School District.

Organizers were able to take the professional development workshop to new heights due to its virtual nature, a byproduct of the pandemic, having saved money on travel accommodations for speakers, they speculated.

“So much work goes into it, and it’s all-consuming. Then it finally comes together, and it’s the most rewarding day of the year,” explained R-I instructional coach Keri Jameson who oversees the internal conference, along with her colleague Michele Carmode. The duo credits their team of building-level ambassadors for helping to determine the break-out sessions, divided into the following categories: apps and tools, Google, instructional strategies, self-care, behavioral support, special education and leadership.

During this year’s keynote address, Texas-based behavior consultant Dan St. Romain pointed out that there is "more emphasis on the teacher providing a stable environment in school" since there is so much uncertainty in society today. “Even in the times we’re living in, you’re having a positive impact on kids,” he reminded educators.

According to research provided, most people get dismissed from jobs for social, emotional or ethical reasons rather than cognitive, or an individual’s commitment to learning. “Knowledge alone is dangerous,” St. Romain said.

“It’s not the amount of time you spend with them, it’s the interactions we have,” he continued, later adding: “What kids will remember long after you left them is the relationship.”

St. Romain talked about how adults are no longer modeling for children the appropriate way to disagree in the age of social media. "One way we create a positive ripple effect is to create a lot of empathy rather than judgment," he stated.

He joked how he is the “perfect father… for other people’s children,” noting how difficult it is to be objective when it comes to one’s own offspring. “You as a teacher have a different perspective than parents do,” said St. Romain, “and that is a perspective that is most needed.”

There is a “very clear roadmap of how we’re supposed to be raising kids,” he explained, referencing a study from the Search Institute that identifies the ‘40 developmental assets’ of well-adjusted children, which cuts across socioeconomic and cultural lines regardless of risk or resiliency factors.

The keynote led additional sessions throughout the day about avoiding power struggles, dealing with anxiety and creating engagement in the classroom, and was credited for the number of actionable takeaways his presentations offered. Born in Louisiana, St. Romain is a renowned author who came highly recommended by the Early Childhood staff after they completed a book study on one of his bodies of work over the summer.

Another popular voice in education circles, 2019 Education Dive National Superintendent of the Year Dr. Joe Sanfelippo of Wisconsin, led a spotlight presentation exclusively for aspiring and established administrators. Most known for one-minute YouTube videos during which he walks and talks, Sanfelippo reminded teachers that they “change the lives of kids,” “change the trajectory of families” and “impact communities.”

The conference was concluded with a general assembly led by Eddie B of social media fame, who has created a niche for his “hysterically realistic portrayal” of the life of a teacher, upon instructing for 13 years in Texas. Carmode explained how a group of teachers attended a conference in Chicago several years ago, and had the pleasure of listening to a comedian in the education field. “It’s always been in the back of our heads to bring laughter to Poplar Bluff Schools,” Carmode said.

Prizes were given out to a lucky winner at each building, in addition to awards for presenting, engaging via the GooseChase app and submitting content to be featured in the student showcase. Books were also raffled from the out-of-district presenters. Grand prize winners for classroom makeovers, sponsored by FCC Behavioral Health and Wallstreet Group, were Tim Fain of the Middle School and Heather Pullam of the High School.

PB Connect began in 2015 as a technology camp for Junior and Senior High, and expanded to include Middle School the following year, before going district-wide with a more encompassing approach beyond the 1:1 laptop initiative. Last week’s topics spanned all grade levels, plus featured sessions designated for classified staff and one specifically geared toward principals.

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Cutline: Sixth grade teacher Andrea Jones submits a selfie with keynote speaker Dan St. Romain on the projector in her Lake Road classroom.

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