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Finding Your People: Navigating Professional Learning Networks as Educators of Color

Pennsylvania Convention Center, 201C

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Educator Innovation Lead
Microsoft Flip
Ann loves to encourage others to “push all the buttons” as they use Microsoft Flip to empower learners of all ages to share their voice and respect the diverse voices of others. She has spent 20+ years dedicated to transforming education as a 1st grade classroom teacher, as a K-8 Innovation & Instructional Support Teacher on Special Assignment in Southern California, and now as an Educator Innovation Lead at Microsoft. Ann is passionate about helping others share, celebrate and showcase authentic voices in the classroom and beyond. Connect with her on social at @annkozma723.
Education & Business Consultant
Inspire, Engage & Educate LLC
Tierra Reed Ed. S is an Education Consultant with an unwavering zeal for education. She has spent over 20 years educating Higher Ed and K-12 scholars and enjoys partnering with organizations to share strategies for enhancing the learning experience through the leverage of various EdTech solutions. She is a Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE), Master Trainer, and (MIEE) Expert that enjoys equipping educators with tools to keep their students engaged. Tierra has presented at GaETC, FETC, SXSW EDU, ISTE and founded Inspire, Engage & Educate LLC where she advocates for change and stakeholder equity.
Account Executive, US Education
Dr. Stephanee Stephens is an Account Executive at Microsoft supporting K12 and HED institutions in the SE United States. She previously led the iTeach unit in KSU’s Bagwell College of Education. She is also an adjunct graduate professor at Kennesaw State University, supporting educators as they develop their ability to design and deliver personalized learning.
Customer Success Account Manager
Victoria Thompson is a Education Industry Executive, K-12 at Microsoft and education technology consultant from Tacoma, WA. She is passionate about empowering teachers and students to use technology purposefully and leads professional development for technology integration in math education, decolonizing STEM curriculum, using technology to create inclusive classrooms, and project-based learning as a vehicle for equity. During her free time you can find her at Walt Disney World with her wife, Kourtney, or taking her dog, Ren, on a walk.
Educational Consultant
Yaritza Villalba leads professional learning opportunities, centered on culturally responsive sustaining education (CRSE), to an international network of educators. With thirteen years of experience in Urban education, Yaritza supplies many effective strategies and resources for educating and supporting BIPOC (Black, Indigenous. and people of color) students and families. Over her career, Yaritza became an Assistant Principal and an author of culturally relevant children's books creating opportunities and experiences for students of color to gain fair access to resources that spark critical thinking and meaningful conversations in and out of the classroom.

Session description

Cultivating an organically supportive community that aligns with your passions, affinities and career goals can be challenging. This panel seeks to identify strategies and ways for you to find “your people” — people who you can connect with, who can support you and who you can grow with.

Purpose & objective

The purpose of this session is to speak about cultivating an organically supportive community that aligns with an educator's passions, affinities, and career goals. This can be quite challenging for an educator, particularly an educator of color (as 80% of educators identify as white women). When you are in a school or organization where you want to be part of the community, where do you begin? How can you identify your professional learning network? And, how can you use technology tools (such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Microsoft Teams, Excel, and OneDrive) to stay connected with each other?

At the end of this session, participants will have actionable steps to cultivate and create their own professional learning networks.

This panel seeks to identify strategies and ways for you to find “your people”--people who you can connect with, who can support you, and who you can grow with. Models employed include panel and Q&A.

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The panel will open with introductions and a background of each participant. This will take about 10 minutes. Then, the panel will commence for about 40 minutes of time. During the panel, a set of questions will be given to the panelists on how they have been able to build their professional learning networks and leverage technology to maintain those networks. The remaining 10 minutes will be reserved for questions.

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Supporting research

Teachers of Color, Culturally Responsive Teaching, and Student Outcomes: Experimental Evidence from the Random Assignment of Teachers to Classes ( -

Professional Networking in Teaching -,classroom%2C%20share%20curricula%2C%20and%20acquire%20new%20teaching%20strategies.

Remote networking as a person of color -

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Session specifications

Coaching & mentoring
Grade level:
Skill level:
Coaches, Teachers
Attendee devices:
Devices not needed
ISTE Standards:
For Educators:
  • Pursue professional interests by creating and actively participating in local and global learning networks.
  • Dedicate planning time to collaborate with colleagues to create authentic learning experiences that leverage technology.