We talked with Shasta High School Robotics teacher Brian Grigsby about his favorite experiences from last year’s Better Together: California Teachers Summit.
Better Together: Why did you get into teaching?
Brian Grigsby: I have been teaching for 23 years. Teaching is one of those things I absolutely love to do. My sister was a teacher, and she really encouraged me to go back and get involved in teaching. That’s really how I got my start – my love of science and my love of teaching kids.
BT: What’s it like to teach robotics?
BG: What’s really cool about teaching robotics is that it doesn’t fit the norm when it comes to the typical classroom environment. You really have to teach the kids how to use tools and how to solve problems. By the end of the year they’re all experts at being able to code, create new systems, and think outside the box. It’s a whole paradigm shift of what it means to really learn science. These kids are literally doing science and learning how to create things. It’s pretty incredible. We’re actually providing kids with career-ready skills.
BT: What did you find unique or valuable about last year’s Summit?
BG: The neat thing about it is the format is so different than any other professional development conference. Because it’s condensed within a day, teachers are able to jump right into working with their colleagues, meeting other people from their region, and being able to hear from content area experts. A format like this allows teachers to get chunks of information they can use right away. You have people who are sharing their passion and sharing their hearts and talking about why it’s so critical to have teachers doing what they do. I think it’s a great encouragement for teachers to hear that what we do matters.
BT: Do you think the Summit is an effective way to bring teachers together and build stronger peer networks?
BG: I think it is, and I think having those connections throughout the year is an important piece as well. It was a great start last year, and to show teachers this is something we want to continue is really important. This year’s Summit is a great way to continue that dialogue. It would be great to have people back to build on that foundation. My hope is that this turns into a third year and a fourth year.
BT: What would you say to a teacher who is considering attending this year’s Summit?
BG: I think to me it’s a neat little booster shot for the summer. It’s a great way to connect, recharge, and get ready for the next school year. It takes a little bit of that edge off so when the first day of school rolls around it’s not so bad. I’d say do it!
Check out Brian’s EdTalk from the 2015 Summit about how STEM education can inspire student creativity, exploration and problem-solving.