2008 Conference

Ninth Annual Institute, 2008

Theme : The Inclusive Classroom
Speakers : Dr. Richard Lavoie, a consultant on learning disabilities, Mr. Jonathan Mooney, President of Project Eye-To-Eye, and Dr. Marilyn Friend, Professor of Specialized Education Services at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Award Recipient : Dr. Joan Kindig
Award Luncheon Speaker : Dr. Joan Kindig, Associate Professor, James Madison University
Sponsoring Divisions : Augusta County Public Schools, Botetourt County Public Schools, Chesterfield County Public Schools, Evangelical Lutheran Church - Department for Schools, Madison County Public Schools, Rappahannock County Public Schools, Roanoke County Public Schools, Roanoke Valley Christian Schools, Salem City Schools, and Virginia Beach Public Schools
Date : June 23-25, 2008

Participants

The ninth annual Margaret Sue Copenhaver Institute for Teaching and Learning was held June 23-25, 2008, on the Roanoke College campus. Dr. Richard Lavoie, a consultant on learning disabilities, Mr. Jonathan Mooney, President of Project Eye-To-Eye, and Dr. Marilyn Friend, Professor of Specialized Education Services at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, presented keynote addresses focused on the Institute’s 2008 theme, The Inclusive Classroom.

Eight public school divisions, one private school, and one independent school organization partnered with Roanoke College to sponsor the 2008 Institute. The partners were Augusta County Public Schools, Botetourt County Public Schools, Chesterfield County Public Schools, Evangelical Lutheran Church – Department for Schools, Madison County Public Schools, Rappahannock County Public Schools, Roanoke County Public Schools, Roanoke Valley Christian Schools, Salem City Schools, and Virginia Beach Public Schools. Seventy-six teachers and administrators represented these sponsoring schools and divisions at the three-day Institute as full-time participants. An additional 90 individuals were accepted as full-time Institute participants based on application submissions, steering committee membership, or service as a breakout speaker. In total, 166 full-time participants attended. There was an increased number of applications this year; we had to deny more than 80 applicants.

 

This year’s Institute attendees represented seven states: Florida, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, and Virginia. From across the state of Virginia, 25 public school divisions were represented: Augusta County, Bedford County, Botetourt County, Buena Vista City, Charlottesville City, Chesterfield County, Craig County, Fairfax County, Franklin County, Halifax County, Hanover County, Harrisonburg City, Henrico County, King and Queen County, Madison County, Middlesex County, Montgomery County, Rappahannock County, Roanoke City, Roanoke County, Salem City, Virginia Beach City, Washington County, Williamsburg-James City County, and Winchester City. This is an increase of ten public school divisions.

Participants also represented five independent schools: Roanoke Valley Christian School, St. John’s Lutheran Day School, St. Stephen’s Lutheran School, Summit School, and West Park Lutheran School.

Presenters included educational leaders from Ferrum College, Roanoke City Public Schools, King and Queen County Public Schools, Harrisonburg City Public Schools, Halifax County Public Schools, Virginia Department of Education, Art Museum of Western Virginia, Fairfax County Public Schools, Botetourt County Public Schools, Old Dominion University, Henrico County Public Schools, Roanoke County Public Schools, Summit School, Bedford County Public Schools, Hollins University, Hillsborough County Public Schools, Barry University, Mary Baldwin College, Hanover County Public Schools, James Madison University, and Roanoke College. This reflected an increase in the number of school affiliations represented, from 9 in 2007 to 21 in 2008. This year’s theme drew from a wider pool of expertise than in the past.

The number of 2008 full-time participants is listed below, reflecting an increase from 2007. The increase could be accredited to the additional divisional partnerships the Institute experienced. In 2007, there were six sponsoring divisions with 55 individuals in this group. For 2008, ten sponsoring schools added 76 participants to the Institute.

 

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Full-Time Participants

37

50

48

95

98

123

90

119

166


In addition to the full-time participants in attendance at the Institute, a number of invited guests attended one or more events across the course of the three days. These individuals included Roanoke College faculty, administration, sponsored division part-time participants, steering committee part-time participants, session leaders, partner school principals, invited special guests, and area educational leaders and colleagues. The table below reflects the annual total number of invited guests. This figure has remained relatively stable across the course of the Institute’s offerings, with the exception of 2003. 2008 shows a slight decrease in this group, reflecting a shift from part-time to full-time participation for a significant number of individuals.

 

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Invited Guests

28

30

37

155

49

38

33

38

27


A continuing Institute initiative during 2008 was to accept a balanced group of applicants, representing teachers at all grade levels, as well as administrators (both at the building and central administration level). Established acceptance criteria were used for this purpose, and the attendance shows a balance of attendance by participants in the grade level sub groups. Attendance across these groups is reflected in the table below. One goal for 2009 will be to increase the number of preservice teachers in attendance, given the decrease seen in this group. This year, financial assistance was available to preservice teachers upon application, but no preservice teachers requested the support. In 2009, we plan to advertise this assistance through a variety of means.

Sub Groups

Elementary
(K-5)

Middle
(6-8)

Secondary
(9-12)

PK-12 Administration

College and University

Preservice
Teachers

% Group: 2002

59%

17%

10%

14%

**

**

% Group: 2003

42.5%

16%

17%

24.5%

**

**

% Group: 2004

34.5%

20%

14.5%

13.5%

8.5%

9%

% Group:
2005

40%

15%

12.5%

20%

6.5%

6%

% Group: 2006

41%

18%

11%

7%

14%

9%

% Group:
2007

36%

13%

6%

26%

8%

11%

% Group:
2008

30%

22%

13%

26%

4%

5%


**In years prior to 2004, college and university faculty representing teacher preparation programs and preservice teachers were classified within the elementary, middle and secondary categories based upon grade level emphases of their courses. Because these groups have grown significantly over the course of time, they are now reported as separate classifications.

Institute Events

This year’s Institute focused on the inclusive classroom. Grounded in constructivist theory, this emphasis furthered the Institute’s commitment to offer annual themes that build on a consistent theoretical base. The 2008 theme was intended to help teachers and administrators identify best practices and perspectives for teaching and co-teaching in inclusive classrooms.

The Institute continued to offer sessions that have been well received in the past, such as keynote addresses, question and answer sessions with keynote speakers, technology workshops, and a variety of breakout sessions. Breakout sessions focused on areas of continuing interest such as faith and learning, instructional technology, and hands-on classroom application of past and present Institute themes. The Monday afternoon “tea,” Tuesday afternoon wine and cheese reception, and closing awards luncheon were continued as special events. Dr. Murrill, Dr. Earp, and Dr. Tim Thomas from James Madison University met with MSCI veterans over breakfast to allow veterans to share results of action plans, developed a year ago based on MSCI strategies from past Copenhaver Institutes. In the evenings during open time, participants were invited to interact on campus and at various local sites, and were provided access to the College’s fitness center and a computer lab. The College’s bookstore also offered resources for participant purchase.

2008 participants received a copy of Dr. Lavoie’s book, The Motivation Breakthrough (Lavoie, 2007), approximately six weeks prior to the Institute. Each participant was asked to read the text and prepare a list of questions and discussion points based on their reading to bring to the Institute. The text was also distributed to breakout session speakers, each of whom was asked to read the text and frame his or her session in relation to the ideas and issues presented in the reading. Speakers for breakout sessions and discussion groups were selected from a pool of proposals submitted to the Institute faculty. This year’s 37 presenters represented an increase in the number of presenters, up from 20 presenters in 2007. The presenters represent a wide range of experience and expertise; they included college and university faculty and administrators, K-12 teachers, specialists, and administrators, the Virginia Department of Education (T/TAC), and an education director from the local art museum. Dr. Gary Whitt, of the Roanoke College Education Department, conducted six 60-minute technology workshops at the Institute. The hands-on workshop sessions were designated for teachers and administrators at specific building levels. 

At the Institute’s closing luncheon on Wednesday, June 25, Dr. Joan Kindig was honored as recipient of the sixth annual Margaret Sue Copenhaver Contribution to Education Award. The award recognized her life work, passion, wonderful sense of humor and commitment to providing the very best of books for young people. This closely mirrors the life and work of Margaret Sue Copenhaver, herself a former public school librarian. Dr. Kindig provided a look at the “Best Bets” in children’s literature for 2008.

Assessment

This year’s evaluation forms measured the participants’ perception and satisfaction with the program and how the Institute is affecting teacher-practice and learning.

Approximately 62% of MSCI 2008’s full-time participants submitted evaluation forms, a lower percentage than hoped. We continued the practice of holding participation certificates until submission of the forms, but this did not have the same degree of high return that we experienced using a similar practice in 2007. We will address this concern in planning for 2009.

Data from the 2008 surveys reveals both significant successes and exciting possibilities for future growth. Collected data indicates positive participant perception in the areas of: 1) Institute offerings and environment; 2) personal growth in understanding of pedagogical theory; and 3) potential for positive change in classroom teaching and continuing professional growth. Participants also offered suggestions that may be beneficial for future growth. Below are highlights of the program’s effectiveness and possible areas for improvement. More detailed information is available in the attached data reports.

Institute Offerings and Environment:

Areas of Effectiveness

The following chart details areas that both veteran and new participants responded to favorably in relation to Institute offerings and environment. All of the items listed below received a mean score of 4 or higher on a five-point scale. Those designated with an * received a score of 4.5 or higher.

At the Institute

My classroom experience was valued by others.

My knowledge base was valued by others.

I was treated with professional respect.

My time was valued.

*I felt encouraged to continue teaching.

*I found the environment enjoyable.

*I found the environment encouraged me to engage with others.

I gained a new appreciation for a colleague(s).

I gained a deeper appreciation for a colleague(s).

I learned more about what my peers do as educators.

*A mutual respect for colleagues was fostered.

My teaching network was strengthened.

My interaction with peers encouraged me to continue teaching.

Presenters talked with me rather than “at me.”


Suggestions for Future Use

The suggestions listed below provide ideas for future improvement and Institute growth.

  • Tailor session lengths to fit the content/nature of individual breakout sessions. It may be desirable to offer 60, 90 and 120 minute options.
  • Day One requires a significant amount of sitting and listening. Spread out keynote sessions over days one and two, with various interactive workshops also offered on both days.
  • Dorm room beds are not always comfortable. Advertise the option of staying off campus at area hotels.
  • Continue to work on climate control; some participants desired cooler rooms.
  • Revisit the idea of bringing in book and educational resource vendors.
  • Provide more time for debriefing.

Institute Content: Pedagogical Theory

Areas of Effectiveness

The following chart details areas that both veteran and new participants responded to favorably in relation to Institute content, including personal growth in understanding pedagogical theory. All of the items listed below received a mean score of 4 or higher on a five-point scale. Those designated with an * received a score of 4.5 or higher.

 

At the Institute

I found the pedagogical knowledge pieces to be connected.

I found the knowledge pieces presented built upon one another.

What I learned at the Institute

Has provided me with new teaching skills.

*Has provided me with new knowledge.

*Aligns with what I believe about effective teaching and learning.

Helped me recognize how my own personal teaching practice can be improved.

*Caused me to reflect on my beliefs about teaching and learning.


Suggestions for Future Use

The suggestions listed below provide ideas for future improvement and Institute growth.

  • Provide more diverse breakout session topics.
  • Continue exploring ways to make all of the breakout sessions engaging.
  • Offer more directed question/answer time with keynote speakers to allow participants to discuss the theoretical ideas the speakers have presented.

Potential for Positive Impact Going Forward

Areas of Effectiveness

The following chart details areas that both veteran and new participants responded to favorably in relation to the impact of the Institute on their classroom teaching and continuing professional growth. All of the items listed below received a mean score of 4 or higher on a five-point scale. Those designated with an * received a score of 4.5 or higher.

 

What I learned at the Institute

Can be used immediately in my classroom.

Is authentic or has relevance in my classroom.

Can change my classroom practice.

Will change my classroom practice.

After attending the Institute

*I am likely to share my new knowledge and skills with peers at my local school.

*I feel inclined to share my learning with new teachers.

I feel inclined to share my learning with pre-service teachers.

*I intend to implement the new knowledge and skills I learned.

After attending the Institute multiple years (responses provided by veteran participants only)

*I understand how the different themes/topics presented work together to build a consistent teaching practice.

My teaching practice has changed or been modified.

*I feel I have a better understanding of teaching.

I have a better understanding of the constructivist teaching philosophy.


2008 Participants Speak – Direct Quotes From Evaluation Forms

  • “I want you to know that the Institute met and exceeded our expectations many times over. We were able to confirm, verify and review ideas through this process. In an effort to remain knowledgeable and receptive to the needs of all students we must remain a community of learners and the Institute supports this effort. Thank you for a beautiful setting and rich agenda of options from which to select.”
  • “I thoroughly enjoyed the Institute and I take with me a wealth of understanding and knowledge that I plan to implement in my classes.”
  • “I loved the tea. It was like being at high tea in the Pump Room in Bath! I also felt privileged to hear such good keynote speakers.”
  • “What a wonderful experience – thank you for the opportunity to learn and grow in my craft.”
  • “Your keynote speakers absolutely rock!”
  • “This institute is a vitamin B shot to my soul. Thank you! Please keep up the GREAT work.”
  • “Of all the conferences I’ve attended through the years, the MSCI is definitely THE best!”

Conclusion

The Margaret Sue Copenhaver Institute is maintaining and growing its reputation as a viable venue for teacher professional development. The 2008 Institute hosted more full-time participant than any past year, with an additional 80 applications denied. Ten school divisions and independent schools partnered with us to sponsor the event, providing another record high. The Institute continues to be marked by outstanding keynote speakers, an environment of professional camaraderie, and participants who enthusiastically embrace new ideas and implement them in their own classrooms. Returning veterans continue to offer breakout sessions which exemplify the positive impact of Institute learning on their classroom teaching practices.

As the Institute continues to evolve, the directors desire to focus attention on research and year-long support for participants. Collected data continues to indicate that developing and nurturing long-term relationships with sponsoring school divisions and participants is required for teacher change. For the Institute to establish itself as a credible voice in the field, its research and publication arm must be extended. New resources are required for the Institute to achieve this goal.