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LANL Foundation Conference Engages Educators in the Joy of Teaching and Learning

The Academy for the Love of Learning led educators in creating journey maps to illustrate and honor key moments in the story of their lives and careers.

October 16, 2015 – The Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Foundation and its Inquiry Science Education Consortium (ISEC) hosted the annual Conference on Education Friday, October 16, 2015 at the Inn & Spa at Loretto in Santa Fe. Nearly 200 teachers, administrators, education professionals and policy makers were in attendance from throughout Northern New Mexico.

The conference began with an interactive “journey mapping” workshop led by the Academy for the Love of Learning. Afternoon keynote speaker John Antonetti offered practical tools to increase student learning, drawing from his experience as a former director of K–12 curriculum in Arkansas, teacher at all grade levels and consultant with educators on high-yield best practices in student engagement, writing, rigor and relevance.

“We kept this year’s conference on a smaller scale and in a more intimate setting to honor teachers and give them time and space for valuable reflection,” said Gwen Warniment, ISEC program director.

A team of Academy facilitators, including founder and president Aaron Stern, guided conference participants in an exploration of their individual stories and key life moments that inspired them to work with children and pursue careers in education. The process involved reflection, journal writing and creation of a visual narrative followed by a meaning-making discussion in small groups.

Educators examined their beliefs and practices, drawing upon their strengths and inspiration to reconnect with the joy of teaching and learning. “Talking with colleagues and this activity helped us remember why we became teachers in the first place,” expressed one teacher. “It’s really the inspiration in our stories that helps us find meaning and stay in our field.”

John Antonetti’s humorous reflection on his own journey from student to educator was an appropriate segue into the discussion on how to shift the classroom dynamic to tap into effective student engagement. Brain research indicates that most powerful learning and long-term retention occur when a student is stimulated by visual activities, recognizes patterns and connects on an emotional level.

Antonetti stressed that cognitive ability is equal in boys and girls, but learning happens differently based on developmental stages and the order of critical thinking. A teacher’s skill in understanding and guiding academic behavior in a safe learning environment allows students to articulate their thinking, become better problem solvers and take ownership of their learning path.

"LANL Foundation loves to support our teachers in meaningful ways,” said LANL Foundation CEO Jenny Parks. “The purpose of this conference was to recognize the importance of their work and give them a way invigorate the joy in their profession. Based on the feedback we have received, we think we met these goals.”

For additional information on the LANL Foundation, the inquiry science program or STEM learning opportunities, visit www.lanlfoundation.org or contact Gwen Warniment at (505) 753-8890.

Conference participants discuss the meaning of their journey maps with others.

Conference keynote speaker John Antonetti emphasized the importance of the three key components to engaged learning—visual, pattern and emotional connection.

Photos: Andrea Multari, ©LANL Foundation

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