Thursday live, virtual workshops

Our Minnesota Educator Academy (MEA) is union-sponsored professional development by educators, for educators. The following virtual sessions will be offered live Thursday, Oct. 21.

You must register in advance at


  • There are no live workshops on Friday.
  • Asynchronous sessions are available to complete on MEA Online.
  • Workshops are for MEMBERS ONLY.

<G> denotes sessions that may fulfill general license renewal requirements.

<S> denotes sessions that may fulfill specific license renewal requirements in positive behavioral interventions, cultural competency, reading, student mental health, suicide prevention and English language learners.


9 a.m.-10:30 a.m.

General session: No More, "Next Time" -- Using Student Voice to Help You Recognize, Respond to and 
Redress Racism and Bias in the Moment <G>

Featuring Education Minnesota President Denise Specht, Minnesota Teacher of the Year Natalia Benjamin and keynote speaker Seema G. Pothini. 

Have you been in a situation where an inequity is at play but you don't know how to address it? Do you know of inequities in your school or organization but don't feel that you have the will or skill to bring it up to others?  

Author and national speaker Pothini will use humor, personal stories, videos, audience participation and research to provide tools to help educators feel inspired and empowered to address bias, racism or any other type of injustice immediately and effectively. Minnesota students need our advocacy and disruption of systemic barriers now, without waiting for "the next time." 

Pothini’s passion centers on removing barriers so that youth can thrive in the educational system and not be marginalized because of some aspect of their identity, especially their race or socioeconomics. She relies on her lived experiences as a child of immigrant parents, classroom teacher, district integration specialist, adjunct professor, president of non-profit boards, youth leader, and numerous other roles to help fuel her work.  

She is also the co-author (with Paul Gorski) of the book, "Case Studies on Diversity and Social Justice" and currently serves as the director of ally management for the Humanize My Hoodie Movement and as an independent consultant with the Equity Literacy Institute. 

10:45-11:45 a.m.

From Exhibit to Classroom: Deepening Native American Content Connections
Learn about the goals, themes and development of the Minnesota History Center’s exhibit, “Our Home: Native Minnesota.” Incorporating the exhibit’s Dakota and Ojibwe content, sources and perspectives in your lessons now is possible, even if you and your students are unable to visit in person. Join us to see how!
Presenters: Heidi Kloempken, teacher education program specialist, and Rita Walaszek Arndt, collections outreach specialist, Minnesota Historical Society

Culturally Responsive Classroom Mindfulness
Participants will learn about culturally responsive mindfulness practices, how they can be used in a classroom to help students focus and manage their own emotions. After the session, participants will walk away with an easy-to-use action plan they can implement in their classrooms. Different strategies will be discussed for various teaching levels.
Presenters: Julie Zaruba Fountaine, wellness coordinator, and Judi Roux, visiting assistant professor of education, The College of St. Scholastica

Sing Today—Read Forever! How to Use Music-Making to Raise Reading Achievement
Learn fun singing activities that raise reading achievement dramatically in pre-K-5 classrooms. Sixty-four percent of Minnesota students are not proficient in reading (2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress). The Rock ‘n’ Read Project’s neuroscientific research-based strategies enable the brain’s auditory processing, beat synchronization and phonological awareness—foundational skills for fluent reading.
Presenters: Ann Kay, co-founder and education coordinator, and Denise Lutgen-Gallaty, education and field consultant, The Rock 'n' Read Project; Lindsey Rymer, teacher, Wayzata Public Schools

1:15-2:15 p.m.

Understanding and Using Assessment Results to Support Equitable Learning Opportunities
This presentation will discuss factors to consider when analyzing your assessment data. Topics discussed will include balanced assessment systems, appropriate uses and other contextual information needed to interpret assessment results, and guidance for using results to accelerate learning for all students. New resources for educators to use to evaluate their classroom assessments will also be shared.
Presenter: Kendra Olsen, outreach specialist-data reporting academic standards, Minnesota Department of Education

Culturally Responsive Teaching for Muslim Students
Engaging Muslim students is more effective with an understanding of Muslim religious and cultural practices. This presentation will cover reasonable religious accommodations for Muslim students, tips for establishing rapport with Muslim students and parents, as well as best practices for teaching about the religion of Islam.
Presenters: John Emery, executive director, Islamic Resource Group; Dr. Tamara Gray, founder, Rabata

Creating Gender Inclusivity Through Language, Curriculum and Sharing Stories
How do we talk to young children about gender identity and expression and support our gender-expansive and transgender children? This workshop will focus on gender-inclusive language, how to use literature and persona dolls to create all-gender inclusive classrooms, and two equity frameworks to guide participants towards becoming anti-bias educators.
Presenters: Rebecca Slaby, executive director, and Ryan Kersey, sales and programs coordinator, AMAZEworks

2:30-3:30 p.m.

Panel With Minnesota Teacher of the Year and Finalists
Starting out in the profession? Ask questions about current education issues and those pertinent to new educators like effective relationships, curriculum choices, work/life balance, career goals and other topics.
Presenters: Minnesota Teacher of the Year panel

Culturally Relevant Pedagogy With Primary Sources
The past has so much to teach us, and so do our students. How do we intersect effective social studies instruction and culturally-relevant learning in a way that honors students' cultural competence? Primary sources, or first-hand accounts from the past, are great tools to help our young learners understand history while reflecting on their own knowledge and experiences. Join us for hands-on activities that share historical instruction through a culturally relevant lens.
Presenters: Kara Knight, teacher educator, and Jessica Ellison, teacher education specialist, Minnesota Historical Society

Trauma I: Understanding Trauma and the Developing Brain
This course provides an introduction to the relatively new field of understanding the consequences of childhood trauma and what that means for educators. The course provides an overview of the original ACEs study, defines key terms and explores, at a basic level, how trauma impacts the developing brain. Understanding that dynamic opens up new doors for educators to stop causing further harm with traditional responses to behavior problems and to identify new ways to help students carrying high levels of toxic stress from exposure to childhood trauma to develop resiliency.
Presenters: Sara Ford and Justin Killian, education issues specialists, Education Minnesota

3:45-4:45 p.m.

Teaching Gifted Learners: Advice From Minnesota Educators of the Gifted and Talented
With few people receiving professional development on how to teach gifted education during their initial teacher licensure, this session will provide an overview of effective methods for reaching advanced learners. The session will also overview the work of the organization with suggestions for how participants can get involved.
Presenter: Kelly Jensen, gifted teacher, Minnesota Educators of the Gifted and Talented

Getting Started With Project-Based Learning
Learn all about the elements of high-quality, project-based learning, the recent research that backs it up and walk away with several free resources that will help you begin to apply it to your own classroom.
Presenter: James Fester, technology integration support specialist and PBL national faculty, Hill-Murray School

Trauma II
This course, a follow-up to Trauma I, will provide an overview of important classroom strategies for engaging with and supporting students with high levels of toxic stress from heavy exposure to childhood adversity.
Presenters: Sara Ford and Justin Killian, education issues specialists, Education Minnesota