KAYSVILLE -- "I've decided not to retire," Grant Averill said as he left a breakout session during the Davis School District's "Learning First" conference Tuesday at Kaysville Elementary School.
He also chanted verses, which he had learned while teaching students human anatomy.
"I'm having a great time," said Averill, who has taught for 37 years and is still teaching third grade at Woods Cross Elementary School. "I just love teaching."
Averill's attitude colored the first conference of its kind.
While junior high and high school teachers have had the advantage of district-organized professional training conferences before, this is the first year for elementary school teachers to participate in a morning conference designed specifically for them and taught by their peers.
"This is a day for quality professional development for teachers," said Debbie Marshall, district professional development director. "The focus is on the teacher."
More than 100 people worked to get the conference ready and to facilitate it.
"This (conference) is so we can deliver strong professional training, so teachers can do their jobs better," Marshall said.
Shauna Lund, from the Davis School District's public relations department, said, "This is part of professional development. With budget cuts, professional development has shrunk. This is a way to get a lot of teachers in the same place."
Classes were taught throughout the district at seven schools, each hosting a specific grade level. Third-grade teachers gathered at Kaysville Elementary to receive instruction from other third-grade teachers on many topics in the curriculum.
Before going into classrooms to learn new instruction methods, teachers learned about the new common core for language arts and mathematics.
Cydnee Carter talked about "A Focus on the Future II," a program that will be implemented next fall and will be completely in use by school year 2014-15.
The new common core program is to meet the needs of students and help them reach the standards needed for when they graduate from high school and enter college or the work force.
"We are not going to do all things at once," Carter said.
New extensive writing and language skills will be taught the first year. An overview will be mapped out on what is expected of the teacher.
"Each year, we will add more standards," Carter said. "We have the tools and structures in place already. The lesson plans are being written now."
Training for teachers will be held in February, and professional sessions will be held in March or April. There is a common core transition site on the district web page where teachers may submit questions.
"It is a challenging time to be an educator," Carter said.
Teachers learned how a classroom without chairs works from Ann Young, a third-grade teacher at Kaysville Elementary who uses fitness balls in her classroom.
Another activity included teachers using glue sticks to glue sheets of tissue paper together. Some were standing at tables while others crawled on the floor. They were making a hot air balloon they could take outside and actually launch.
Rita Stevenson, elementary science supervisor, taught the class, and she was in charge of using a propane heater to heat the air in the balloon. Parental help will be needed for this project in the classroom.
Out on the east playground, a balloon launcher heated the cold air and filled the balloon. The balloon made during the first class was lost on top of the school building. A balloon from the next group went over the school and to the other side of the building before landing.
As the balloon inflated, teacher Margaret Jensen said, "Oh, that is so cool!"
Jensen said she learned a lot of fun things during the conference.
"There are a lot of fun daily activities, and I learned new ways to teach math," she said.
"We have to experience it before we do it," said Wendy Petersen, who teaches with Jensen at Eagle Bay Elementary School in Farmington.
Teacher Donna Croft showed how teachers can go to the district website to get lesson plans using art and music.
"Every theme, every unit, every grade level has music to go with it," Croft said.
Each school has a book about the music and CDs with the songs teachers may record to make personalized CDs.
The website gives the teacher help on each of the units.
"There is a written lesson plan. You've actually got a listening experience, too," Croft said.
Many positive comments came from the event.
"I don't think we ever get enough training," said Michelle Heninger, a third-grade teacher at Kaysville Elementary who helped organize the program at her school.