Education Minnesota’s 2021 MEA Conference was held both in person at the Saint Paul RiverCentre, and virtually.
More than 250 members attended in person, while more than 700 logged on to livestreamed classes.
Hundreds of members also took part in the asynchronous classes available on the MEA Online platform.
“Thank you for attending,” said President Denise Specht, in her remarks at the start of the keynote session. “Educators remain committed to being the best we can be.”
The most popular classes included mental health supports for students and educators, racial equity and social justice-focused sessions and those that fulfill the teacher relicensure requirements.
Both the virtual and in-person conference featured a keynote speak by Dr. Seema G. Pothini, an author and national speaker who works with the Equity Literacy Institute.
“Educators have the power to change the world simply by making connections and allowing students to show up authentically,” Pothini said.
Pothini spoke about the need to humanize every student and see them for their authentic selves. She shared her story as a student of color in Richfield, who had teachers who honored their own heritage which then allowed her to feel comfortable celebrating hers.
She shared messages of finding your “why” as an educator, and being the one to make a difference in students’ lives. Pothini reminded educators of their power to stand up to bias and racism, and eliminate the systemic barriers standing in the way of all students succeeding.
Also speaking during the general session was the current Minnesota Teacher of the Year, Natalia Benajmin.
Benjamin spoke about the stress on educators throughout the pandemic and why students need their educators to show up for them, now more than ever.
“Students need more feedback. More one-on-one. More attempts at trying. The need for social-emotional learning has never been higher,” she said. “And what is good for our students is also good for us.”
Many courses which were livestreamed during the conference are now available for asynchronous completion on MEA Online.