2009 Conference

Tenth Annual Institute, 2009

Theme: The changing Face of Who We Teach
Speakers: Dr. Rita Pierson, a consultant on student diversity, Dr. Diane Rodriguez, Associate Professor and English Language Learner Specialist at East Carolina University
Award Recipient: Dr. Betts Rivét, professor at Hwa Nan Women’s College, Fuzhou, China
Award Luncheon Speaker: Dr. Betts Rivét
Sponsoring Divisions: Botetourt County Public Schools, City of Salem Public Schools, Evangelical Lutheran Church – Department for Schools, Roanoke City Public Schools, Roanoke County Public Schools, and Virginia Beach Public Schools
Date: June 22-24, 2009

Participants

The tenth annual Margaret Sue Copenhaver Institute for Teaching and Learning was held
June 22-24, 2009, on the Roanoke College campus. Dr. Rita Pierson, a consultant on student diversity, and Dr. Diane Rodriguez, Associate Professor and English Language Learner Specialist at East Carolina University, presented keynote addresses focused on the Institute’s 2009 theme, The Changing Face of Who We Teach.

Five public school divisions and one independent school organization partnered with Roanoke College to sponsor the 2009 Institute. The partners were Botetourt County Public Schools, City of Salem Public Schools, Evangelical Lutheran Church – Department for Schools, Roanoke City Public Schools, Roanoke County Public Schools, and Virginia Beach Public Schools. Ninety-two teachers and administrators represented these sponsoring schools at the three-day Institute as full-time participants; 40 of these were registered under the sponsorship program. An additional 55 individuals attended based on application submissions, steering committee membership, or service as a breakout speaker. In total, 147 individuals participated in the Institute.

The Institute was privileged to host a number of special guests, including Dr. Betts Rivét, recipient of the seventh annual Margaret Sue Copenhaver Contribution to Education Award. Mrs. Stephanie Doyle, 2009 Virginia Teacher of the Year and a Roanoke College alumna (1999), gave the closing presentation at the Awards Luncheon. Breakout speakers included experts from Roanoke City Schools, Miami-Dade County Schools, Virginia Tech, Halifax County Schools, Roanoke Valley Juvenile Detention Center, Roanoke County Schools, Young Audiences of Virginia, Mary Baldwin College, and James Madison University. Mr. Scott Crawford, Education Director of the Taubman Museum of Art, and Rev. Donna Hopkins Britt, Senior Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, were also among the breakout speakers. Roanoke College alumni and local educational leaders participated in several proceedings. Roanoke College faculty and staff also contributed to various Institute events. These guests included President Michael Maxey, Vice President Mark Noftsinger, Ms. Teresa Gereaux, Dr. Gary Whitt, Dr. Lisa Earp, Dr. Maria Stallions, Professor Katie Elmore, and Ms. Patty Powell.

This year’s Institute attendees represented eight states: Delaware, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. From across the state of Virginia, 13 public school divisions were represented: Bedford County, Botetourt County, Chesapeake County, Chesterfield County, Craig County, Fairfax County, Franklin County, Montgomery County, Roanoke City, Roanoke County, Salem City, Virginia Beach City and Williamsburg-James City County. Participants also represented three independent schools: Holy Trinity Community School, St. Mark Lutheran School and West Park Lutheran School.

The number of 2009 full-time participants is listed below, reflecting a decrease from 2008. The drop, though significant, is not necessarily a sign of slowing momentum. Instead, the 2009 numbers are more reflective of the attendance the Institute has historically aimed to achieve. The 2008 Institute was an outlier, due to the popularity draw of the keynote speaker.

 

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Full-Time Participants

37

50

48

95

98

123

90

119

166

147

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, session leaders, partner school principals, invited special guests, and area educational leaders and colleagues. This year’s guests also included four middle and high school girls who represented G.R.O.W. (Girls Rising Onto Womanhood), a mentorship program directed by Stephanie Doyle, who provided the address for our Wednesday luncheon. The table below reflects the annual total number of invited guests.

 

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Invited Guests

28

30

37

155

49

38

33

38

27

22

A continuing Institute initiative during 2009 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 representation of participants in all grade level sub groups. Attendance across these groups is reflected in the table below. A continuing goal for 2010 is to encourage participation amongst middle and high school teachers. We are addressing this through an intentional focus on secondary students in our advertising materials. In addition, we are targeting specific middle and high school groups as recipients of 2010 Institute mailings.

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%

% Group: 2009

50%

20%

11%

13%

1%

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 or licensure pursuits. Beginning in 2004, they were reported as separate classifications.

Institute Events

This year’s Institute focused on student diversity and English language learners (ELL). Grounded in constructivist theory, this emphasis furthered the Institute’s commitment to offer annual themes that build on a consistent theoretical base. The 2009 theme was intended to help teachers and administrators identify best practices and perspectives for teaching and co-teaching in schools with high levels of poverty and large numbers of English language learners.

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, Dr. Reynolds, and Dr. Maria Stallions 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. Two to three participants are ready to write about their learning and publish. 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 computer lab. The College’s bookstore also offered resources for participant purchase.

Approximately six weeks prior to the Institute, this year’s participants received a copy of Dr. Stephen Cary’s book, Working with English Language Learners: Answers to Teachers’ Top Ten Questions (Cary, 2007. Dr. Cary was originally scheduled as a keynote speaker; however, a family concern forced him to cancel his appearance. Dr. Rodriguez assumed his role. Each participant was asked to read the Cary 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. Twenty-one local and regional experts presented on topics related to ELL and cultural/economic diversity. Dr. Gary Whitt, of the Roanoke College Education Department, conducted four 60-minute technology workshops at the Institute.  

At the Institute’s closing luncheon on Wednesday, June 24, Dr. Betts Rivét was honored as recipient of the seventh annual Margaret Sue Copenhaver Contribution to Education Award. The award recognized her life work as a teacher, a school counselor, school psychologist and administrator. Currently, she teaches English at the Hwa Nan Women’s College in China. This closely mirrors the life and work of Margaret Sue Copenhaver, herself a former public school librarian. Dr. Rivét shared about her current work in China.

 

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 47% of MSCI 2009’s full-time participants submitted evaluation forms, a lower percentage than hoped. Attempting to increase the number of evaluation returns, the forms were distributed in the curriculum development sessions offered as the last instructional period of the Institute. The low return indicates that a significant number of full-time participants are not attending the last offered session. In the coming year, the faculty and steering committee will consider the implications of low attendance in these sessions. Does it indicate a need for a schedule/program change? Should an incentive be provided to increase attendance? Furthermore, the faculty will look for other means of increasing the number of evaluations being returned.

Data from the 2009 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; 3) teacher efficacy, and 4) 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 4.16 or higher on a five-point scale. Those designated with an asterisk 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.

My teaching network was strengthened.

My interaction with peers encouraged me to continue teaching.

Presenters talked with me rather than “at me.”

*A mutual respect for colleagues was fostered.

Suggestions for Future Use

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

  • Breakout sessions need greater attention – variety, focus on high school, quality of presenters.
  • 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 rooms are not always comfortable. Review concern with Community Programs and provide extra blankets.
  • Expand the audience – advertising.

 

Institute Content: Pedagogical Theory

Areas of Effectiveness

The following chart details areas that both veteran and new participants favorably responded to regarding Institute content, including personal growth in understanding pedagogical theory. All of the items listed below received a mean score of 4.16 or higher on a five-point scale. Those designated with an asterisk 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.

 

Potential for Positive Impact Going Forward

Areas of Effectiveness

The following chart details areas that both veteran and new participants favorably responded to regarding 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 asterisk 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 more likely to continue teaching.

*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.

Suggestions for Future Use

  • One of the key initiatives of the Institute is to develop and strengthen a sense of scholarship among academics, practitioners and students by exploring scholarly and practical ideas addressing teaching effectiveness, student learning outcomes and promotion of a lifelong commitment to learning. Toward this purpose, the Copenhaver Institute plans to explore the creation of Teaching and Learning Perspectives, an annual refereed journal published online. The journal will seek to advance a constructivist understanding of teaching and learning by presenting diverse forms of scholarship and practitioner-research that are grounded in the Institute’s annual themes.

 

2009 Participants Speak – Direct Quotes From Evaluation Forms 

  • I have a new perspective in which to study my students and will be able to meet them where they are in respect to resources they may or may not have.
  • You all validated and elevated the classroom teacher.
  • I really enjoyed learning about different teaching strategies. Also, it was great and very eye-opening to learn how to reach the needs of my kids. This went beyond academics; it focused on the whole child!
  • The speakers are truly inspirational.
  • The time you get to reflect on your own as well as with each other is immeasurable.
  • Being with other teachers is such an encouragement.
  • It is nice to hear professionals speak about new and relevant practices.
  • Talking to others – know that you are not alone in the challenges.
  • The most important element of MSCI to me, is to hear notable authorities in the field say that something is vitally important to education, or that something is crucial to student success – that validates my thoughts on the subject, and gives me the reassurance that I am not wrong in my thinking, and a reason to continue what I am doing.
  • I feel so appreciated as a professional. Thank you for this opportunity. It is rare to feel so valued as a teacher.
  • As always, it was a delight and a great learning experience to be a part of this Institute. I feel appreciated as a teacher.
  • This is the best education conference/institute available.

 

Conclusion

The Margaret Sue Copenhaver Institute is maintaining its reputation as a viable venue for teacher professional development. It 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. Teacher efficacy is strengthened as indicated by the participants’ reports of being treated professionally and building relationships. Finding ways to strengthen the quality and variety of breakout session warrants continued attention. Ensuring a broad and diverse pool of participants is another way to boost the Institute’s programming and reputation.

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. To achieve this goal, the Institute veterans meet together each summer to share work and explore ways of documenting how their learning is impacting student achievement. This coming year, participating veterans will be contacted by the Institute faculty to encourage action research grounded in MSCI theory. At the closing curriculum development sessions, participants were grouped in teams and provided a format for reinforcing and encouraging one another’s work throughout the coming school year. In addition, the creation of an annual online journal will be explored. These are small steps that the Institute is implementing to support participants throughout their school years. However, for high quality, on-site programming to occur, resources are needed to support faculty field work, requiring release time from regular College contracted duties.

Respectfully submitted,

Leslie Murrill, Ph.D. Tim Reynolds, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Education Associate Professor of Education
MSCI Co-Director MSCI Co-Director