Stefania Shaffer, Profile


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Why Do Teachers Love Bill and Melinda Gates?

Nobody Knows How to Appreciate Teachers Like Gates Ed Foundation


I have been lucky enough to experience one of the most exceptional conferences I’ve ever attended where I delivered the closing keynote to nearly 500 educators through the Gates Ed Foundation, known as ECET2.

My message was meant to inspire new and veteran teachers alike, with a reminder that “for that one kid, you might be the single best part of their day.” If you have 15-minutes and 1 hanky, it’s worth sharing and bears repeating, “On the path to success, there is always a teacher to thank.”Gates Conference-Stefania Shaffer Keynote But, here is why this conference inspired me.

Imagine you are an educator. Middle school teacher. Let’s say you’ve been at it for fifteen years and let’s even go so far as to say that you still love your job. You are me. I am thrilled to be here. But, there have been times when I have needed support; call it Teacher Appreciation, call it a morale boost, call it a post-it note with five little words that read, “Best scores we’ve ever had!” (I am still floating off that last one from years ago).

If you don’t know ECET2, I’m here to tell you that you are in for the treat of your educational career. The name says it all: Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers. But it means more when you discover that the names Bill and Melinda Gates are behind sponsoring this national conference cultivating teacher leaders.

The Gates Ed Foundation will more than soothe your tired, aching soul and remind you of the reasons why you went into teaching in the first place. This conference will turbo charge your creativity for how you walk the walk in and out of the classroom. Are you that true leader on campus whose spirit never dims? Is your positive role modeling emulated by others? Has your can-do attitude for affecting change been considered– well, infectious? Then you deserve the nomination to attend this invitation-only national event. Here, teacher leaders learn how to build up their own community. If you’re really lucky, there is already a regional convening in your own area because someone attending the national brought it back to your hometown.

If you ever wanted to know what it could feel like to be Charlie in the Chocolate Factory, this is that golden ticket. This is not a curriculum conference to learn more about Common Core. This is a conference where like-minded dynamics are shared in trust tables with other teachers from around the country.

You will immediately bond as you realize that despite your geographic distance, you are all in the same boat and this reassurance will produce a Professional Learning Network…or a sisterhood, or a brotherhood. You have time to talk about issues in education that are thwarting your progress and navigate your way through solutions. You will find your Tribe!

You will be served glorious gourmet food in all its abundance, on par with any fancy cruise line. And when you are done with that meal, you will walk through the halls to your next breakout session passing coffee service tables with gorgeous desserts that you can grab as you go. In a few short hours, your next meal awaits. This is not your cold deli sandwich, potato chip conference. The Gates Foundation showers teachers with enormous gratitude for a job well done. Melinda Gates said it herself, “Nobody knows teaching like teachers.”

I believe nobody knows how to appreciate teachers like Bill and Melinda Gates. To get a real sense of what teachers experienced at the national ECET2 conference, here is a quick clip of what teachers took away. ECET2-Seattle 2015 For even more motivation before you open those August doors and say hello to a new crop of kids, here is what my precious colleagues who each delivered other riveting keynotes throughout the days had to say.

Mary Kenzer realized she could be an English teacher after being responsible for training high school kids at the grocery store Krogers where she had worked for decades. Mary Kenzer Keynote.

Lauren Maucere not only leads the charge for Deaf students, she teaches them how to advocate for themselves. Lauren Maucere Keynote

Finally, William Anderson inspires teachers to reach back to their past experiences as students and teach like their futures depend on it. William Anderson Keynote

If you love a teacher, please share this blog and view these unforgettable keynotes. Sometimes all we need as teachers to do this work is to know that we are not alone and to remember the reasons why we followed our hearts into the classroom in the first place.