MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Educator Academy begins and ends Thursday. In the past, it was a two-day event offering professional development courses aimed at teachers but open to the public. In 2018, it’s a members-only event, a decision Education Minnesota President Denise Specht says came down to prioritizing how the union spends its money.

“Members of Education Minnesota have been showing up to the conference and they haven’t actually been able to get the sessions they want,” said Specht. “They might need a reading course or they might need a math course or something like that, they show up, and it’s full.”

The courses themselves are catered to teaching in 2018, and includes specialty training workshops for teachers who want help enhancing how they teach a specific subject, along with big-picture, cultural conversations.

Specht says seminars catered to mental health are always among the most popular, as teachers look to communicate or relate to students who face all kinds of challenges. Inclusiveness is another principle taking priority, often a challenge in school settings for both students and teachers.

Teachers will also have the option to listen in on conversations around social media. Researchers don’t yet know the full impact of how it affects students development or learning, so a speaker will present the latest data at MEA and discuss ways to channel students’ use to create a positive impact.

Christiane Cordero