Professional development is never a day off for the hardworking members of the Baltimore Teachers Union (BTU), Local 340. As is the annual fall custom of QuEST, the BTU put on a dynamic, engaging, and powerful professional development conference. The day-long event gave education professionals the opportunity to learn from fellow BTU members about strategies to be an effective educator inside and outside the classroom.
BTU President Diamonté Brown was particularly pleased with the peer-to-peer instruction provided by workshop leaders. She noted that a majority of facilitators were BTU members, demonstrating that BTU members are themselves experts and can provide solutions to challenges educators face. “What makes QuEST so amazing is that it is a professional development [event] put on by BTU members. We have BTU members here that are facilitating, we have BTU members that are vendors, we have BTU members that are volunteering to staff the conference… We are the experts, and this is a perfect way to show our expertise,” said Brown.
There was something special to take away from the conference regardless of seniority or position outside of the classroom. Teacher, BTU member, and state delegate Harry Bhandari attended the conference and believes the conference empowered teachers to provide the best they can for their students. Speaking of QuEST, Del. Bhandari said “...it shows teacher commitment, teacher confidence, and teacher character. When you come to such a professional development event… we can come together, we can share best practices, and we can deliver in the classroom.”
The keynote was delivered by Columbia University professor Dr. Bettina Love. Dr. Love is the author of several books including Punished for Dreaming: How School Reform Harms Black Children and How We Heal. Members felt motivated by Dr. Love’s presentation. Nora Watson, a BTU member and speech/language pathologist was one of the members who enjoyed and appreciated Dr. Love’s presentation calling her (Dr. Love) amazing. “She touched on some very valuable points. I actually had an opportunity to speak with her briefly after and talk about stepping into the uncomfortableness of what reality is and how to best educate our children.”
The conference wrapped up with raffle prizes from vendors and affiliates. AFT-Maryland had one of the most popular raffle prizes as the state federation raffled off book collections for education professionals to share with their students and in some cases, keep at home to start home libraries for the little learner in their household.