Any conference that begins with a twelve year old human beat box is off to a good start. Follow that with a lecture on language research and a poetry slam, and I’m all in, as I was at this year’s CABE Conference in San Diego.

CABE stands for California Association for Bilingual Educators, and this year’s 40th anniversary conference was a big one.

As with any educational conference, my hope is that I’ll leave with some ideas I can put into practice when I get back to campus, a few connections with educators I didn’t know (or know so well), and a mind challenged to think about the world in a different way.

This year CABE did all three.

What struck me immediately when I arrived was that I was surrounded by passionate educators who themselves loved to learn. My district certainly sent a dynamic team, whose engagement was an example of the dedication we’d all like to see our students bring to school.

Over the course of two days, I got to learn about the benefits of biliteracy, and hear research that made me feel even more excited about Diegueño’s Dual Language Immersion program and the good work we do with English Learners.

I got to really connect with colleagues both from my own school and other middle and high schools, and we got to share what we were excited about from the sessions we each attended.

These educators, as well as the CABE presenters, provided specific ideas I can bring back to Diegueño, as well as a renewed focus on equity in action.

I won’t make this post a list of the interesting speakers or meaningful ideas I saw at CABE, but I do want to call out the presentation that resonated with me most. With the wit and ease of a veteran professor, Kenneth Wesson spoke about the applications of neuroscience in the classroom in a talk titled “Using STEM and S²TREAM to Grow the Best Brains Possible.”

It was a hands on presentation that saw us using mirrors to trick our brains, magnets and paper clips, and even a lava lamp. Wesson suggested that “the young brain actively seeks relevant connections made through rich memorable learning experiences,” and his talk provided just that. When the session scheduled for an hour and fifteen minutes went long, none of us complained.

I’m not a huge fan of most conferences; give me an EdCamp and a cup of coffee and I’m in heaven, but this year CABE gave me an experience I’m happy I had, on a topic that matters much at Diegueño and in public education. Add to that the fact that from the human beat box who was part of the middle school choir that opened the conference to the stirring poem by Dylan Garrity, the conference tipped its proverbial hat to the arts, and it had me at bmmmp-bmmmp-bmmmp!

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