2012 Conference

Thirteenth Annual Institute, 2012

 Theme:  Understanding by Design: Identifying Priorities and Targeting Actions to Improve Student Learning
Speakers:
  Dr. Kay Brimijoin, associate professor of Education, Sweet Briar College and Dr. Grant Wiggins, speaker, author and international consultant
Award Recipients:
  Dr. and Mrs. George Akers, retired educations from the Roanoke Valley
Luncheon Speaker:
  Taylor Mali, author, speaker, and poet
Sponsoring Divisions:
  Buena Vista City Schools, Charlottesville City Schools, City of Salem Schools, Prince William County Schools, Roanoke City Schools, Roanoke County Schools, and Roanoke Valley Christian Schools
Date:
  June 18-20, 2012

     
Kay Brimijoin
Grant Wiggins Taylor Mali

Participants

The thirteenth annual Margaret Sue Copenhaver Institute for Teaching and Learning was held June 18-20, 2012, on the Roanoke College campus.  Dr. Kay Brimijoin and Dr. Grant Wiggins presented keynote lectures on the 2012 annual theme, Understanding by Design: Identifying Priorities and Targeting Actions to Improve Student Learning. Dr. Gary Whitt, Roanoke College, served again as the Institute’s resident technology instructor; and Mr. Taylor Mali, author and poet, presented at the awards luncheon. This year Mrs. Helen Hanes, the Institute’s patron, joined participants on Tuesday and Wednesday. She was accompanied by her daughter, Drewry Hanes Nostitz.

Six public school divisions and one independent school partnered with Roanoke College to sponsor the 2012 Institute; Buena Vista City Schools, Charlottesville City Schools, City of Salem Schools, Prince William County Schools, Roanoke City Schools, Roanoke County Schools, and Roanoke Valley Christian Schools.  Forty seven teachers and administrators represented the sponsoring schools as full-time participants. An additional 103 individuals attended based on application submissions, steering committee membership, or service as a breakout speaker.  In total, 150 individuals participated in the Institute.  

The Institute was privileged to host a number of special guests, including Dr. and Mrs. George and Nancy Akers, recipients of the tenth annual Margaret Sue Copenhaver Contribution to Education Award. Dr. Phil

 George and Nancy Akers
 George and Nancy Akers

Bigler, 1998 National Teacher of the Year, joined us for the award luncheon.  Breakout speakers and discussion leaders included experts from nine school districts and six colleges and universities; Campbell County, City of Salem, Episcopal School in the City of New York, Halifax County, Montgomery County, Prince William County, Roanoke County, Virginia Beach City, Winchester County, Barry University (FL), Bridgewater College, James Madison University, Roanoke College, Virginia Tech, and Virginia Western Community College.  Represented among these speakers were the 2009 Virginia Teacher of the Year and the 2010 McGlothlin Award winner, Stephanie Doyle and Steven Sizemore. Both are Roanoke College alumni.  Roanoke College faculty and staff also contributed to various Institute events; including President Michael Maxey, Vice President and Dean of the College Richard Smith,
Assistant Vice President for Resource Development Lisa Bowling, Dr. Nancy Bradley, Ms. Patty Powell, Dr. Robert Schultz, Dr. Maria Stallions, and Dr. Lisa Stoneman. 

This year’s Institute attendees represented five states:  Florida, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia.  From across four states, 22 public school divisions were represented: Botetourt County, Buena Vista City, Campbell County, Charlottesville City, Chesterfield County, City of Salem, City of Virginia Beach, Colonial Beach County, Franklin County, Guilford County (NC), Halifax County, Mecklenburg County, Montgomery County, Prince William County, Roanoke City, Roanoke County, Spotsylvania County, Stafford County, Town of West Point, and Winchester County. Five independent schools also participated; Grace Christian, Saint Mark Lutheran (OH), Summit School (NC), Roanoke Valley Christian School, and The Episcopal School in the City of New York (NY). Last year, 16 public school divisions participated and one independent school. The increased number of participating K-12 schools illustrates the Institute’s growing reputation.

The number of 2012 full-time participants is listed below, reflecting a strong increase from the previous two years. The increase in participation can be attributed to several factors including speaker recognition, timeliness of topic, increased number of school partners, and student scholarship awards.

 

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

Full-Time Participants

95

98

123

90

119

166

147

110

103

150

   
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, staff, administrators, alumni, partner school principals, session leaders, invited special guests, and area educational leaders and colleagues.

 

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

Invited Guests

155

49

38

33

38

27

22

45

26

24


A continuing Institute initiative is 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 sub groups.  A participant goal for 2012 was to achieve at least a 10% enrollment of preservice teachers. The goal was identified to strengthen the college’s teacher preparation program and to align with the donor’s original desire to provide students with an early professional development experience. The attendance goal was set anticipating 100 participants. With 150 attending, the goal was not met but the actual number of preservice teachers attending was greater than 10% of 100. Eleven preservice teachers attended, accounting for 7% of total participants.  The success in recruiting students can be attributed to scholarships given by individuals and organizations: Dr. Patty S. Pitts (Assistant Superintendent, Virginia Department of Education), Kappa Delta Pi Upsilon Tau Chapter, Roanoke College’s Fortnightly Club, Roanoke Valley Reading Council, Southwest Virginia Professional Education Consortium, Virginia State Reading Association, and Virginia Professional Educators.  

In recent years, the Institute has successfully balanced the number of participants representing elementary (K-5) and secondary (6-12). This year, secondary numbers decreased. Secondary teachers tend to focus on content vs. pedagogy. Perhaps this is why there is an ongoing effort to keep secondary numbers at projected goals. The number of administrators attending increased significantly. This is largely due to one sponsoring school division who sent all administrators in response to its local professional development initiative.   

Faculty and students from 12 colleges and universities attended: Averett University, Barry University (FL), Bridgewater College, College of William and Mary, James Madison University, Lynchburg College, Mary Baldwin College, Radford University, University of Mary Washington, Virginia Western Community College, and Virginia Tech. For the second year in a row, participation by sister institutions has been above 10% of all participants. This possibly demonstrates MSCI’s emerging influence and respect in the education community.

Attendance across various groups is reflected in the table below. 

Sub Groups

Elementary
(K-5)

Middle
(6-8)

Secondary
(9-12)

PK-12 Administration

College/ University

Preservice
Teachers

% 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%

% Group:
2010

35%

34%

10%

9%

4%

8%

% Group:
2011

39%

23%

12.5%

5%

13.5%

7%

% Group:
2012

35%

13%

9%

24%

13%

7%

**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.

Reflecting on this data, we have determined the following goals for 2013:

  • Continue soliciting scholarships supporting the participation of pre-service teachers
  • Balance of college and administrators
  • Balance elementary and secondary

Institute Events

Understanding by Design: Identifying Priorities and Targeting Actions to Improve Student Learning was the focus of this year’s Institute.  Grounded in the scholarship of keynote speakers who build their professional work on student-centered, constructivist classroom practices, this year’s program furthered the Institute’s commitment to offer annual themes that build on a consistent theoretical base.  

The Institute continued offerings that have been well received in the past, such as keynote addresses, question and answer sessions with a keynote speaker, technology workshops, and a variety of breakout sessions.  The Monday afternoon “tea” in the Colket Center was continued as a special event to conclude a day of interaction with Dr. Kay Brimijoin and Dr. Grant Wiggins.  Tuesday continued with an additional keynote session and breakouts.  An afternoon wine and cheese reception was held at the historic Monterey House.  Wednesday continued with breakout sessions, including a meeting of targeted participants asked to participate in an upcoming research project on the effectiveness of teacher learning at MSCI.  In the evenings, participants were invited to interact on campus and at various local sites.  The College’s bookstore also offered resources for participant purchase.

Breakout sessions focused on areas of continuing interest such as faith and learning and hands-on classroom application of Institute themes. Speakers for these sessions were selected from a pool of proposals submitted to the Institute faculty.  Thirty eight regional experts presented on topics related to the Institute topic and/or led Reflection and Renewal Discussion Groups.

At the Institute’s closing luncheon on Wednesday, June 20, Dr. and Mrs. George and Nancy Akers were honored as recipients of the tenth annual Margaret Sue Copenhaver Contribution to Education Award.  The award recognized their life work as educators in the Roanoke Valley.  Dr. Akers, an alumnus of Roanoke College, began his career as a high school teacher and later served as assistant principal and principal in Roanoke County Schools. Mrs. Akers taught music in Roanoke City Schools. Both were instrumental in founding Roanoke College’s Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education. Combined their education career spans 72 years.

At the award luncheon, institute participants presented Mrs. Hanes a memory book listing the topics and speakers of all the previous Institutes, a collection of pictures from earlier years, and thank you notes from this year’s participants. The cards provided a description of how the Institute has impacted the careers of participants and shared appreciation for the Hanes’ family’s ongoing commitment to MSCI. Drewry Nostitz spoke on her mother’s behalf in accepting the book.  

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 60% of MSCI 2012’s full-time participants submitted evaluation forms, an increase from 58% in 2011.  Once again, forms were distributed during the R and R groups last session.  This suggests that the R and R group format is a good point to administer the evaluation, but it also suggests that about 40% of participants are not participating in the last R and R session. This raises the question of how to increase participant motivation on day 3 of the Institute. Award lunch participation indicates most participants are not leaving early. Perhaps a significant number of participants are not finding significant value in R and R groups. If these groups are discontinued, a new venue will need to be identified to administer and collect final evaluations.

Data from the 2012 surveys reveals both significant successes and exciting possibilities for future growth. Collected data indicates positive participant perception in the areas of:  1) Institute organization, breakout sessions, and keynotes, 2) time to meet new people, network, collaborate, and share experiences, 3) opportunities for choice in breakout sessions, 4) cost affordability, and 5) atmosphere of respect and caring. One participant summed up the strengths of the Institute saying, it “offers an excellent opportunity to network with teachers from different districts, administrators, professionals with varied core concentrations. Great treatment of participants – beautiful setting, excellent food, pleasant atmosphere and accommodations, affordable, provided texts, etc.”

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 veterans and new participants responded to favorably in relation to Institute offerings and environment.  All of the items listed below received a mean score of 4.26 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.

I was treated with professional respect.

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.

*A mutual respect for colleagues was fostered.

Suggestions for Future Use

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

  • Revisit the length of the days and organization. Some participants feel the days are long and keynotes could be shortened. This year, breakout sessions were particularly strong so this might influence the desire to decrease the amount of time in keynote sessions. Consider combining Monday’s afternoon tea and Tuesday’s wine and cheese. Hold one social event on Monday afternoon, leaving Tuesday for personal time, small group time, and/or an optional outdoor adventure.
  • Collaborate with the Virginia Teacher of the Year Network and Virginia Professional Educators to identify and maintain a reliable and effective group of breakout speakers. Become a venue recognizing and celebrating Virginia’s award winning teachers.
  • Consider alternating content strands each year to attract secondary participants.

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 4.26 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

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.

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 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.

  • Engage the steering committee in the usefulness and purpose of the R and R groups. Evaluations on the groups ranged from 3.95-4.32, not necessarily a weak evaluation, but not one that indicates participants find the time extremely beneficial.
  • Create ways teachers can engage their own curriculum within the context of the Institute’s theme or practice the theory presented.
  • Discover ways to help teachers positively engage ideas that challenge their thinking.
  • Consider additional session offerings targeted for PK-12 administrators, based on the needs of our participant audience.

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 4.26 or higher on a five-point scale.  Those designated with an asterisk received a score of 4.5 or higher.

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

  • Offer a breakout session for veteran participants in which they can reflect on how MSCI and their engagement with its themes has changed their classroom practice over the course of time. 
  • Offer a breakout session that introduces assessment measures/instruments which participants may use to determine how their classroom practice impacts student progress, serving as one of the multiple measures they collect annually to demonstrate student growth.

2012 Participants Speak – Direct Quotes From Evaluation Forms

  • After 30 years of conferences, conventions, workshops and post-graduate studies, I finally found a 3-day that met my need, kept me focused and wanting to attend again. 
  • Highly trained, motivated, impassioned keynote speakers/educators that “shepherd” others through the ongoing growth process of becoming exceptional educators with each child’s success in mind.  
  • Where else could we be treated so well but at Roanoke?! 
  • I had a wonderful time meeting and interacting with teachers from all over the state. It gave me the opportunity to network and share joys/concerns with my fellow teachers.  
  • It’s a wonderful professional development opportunity that provides restoration, revitalization and renewal. Thank you! 
  • Loved it! I reconnected with people I’d met in other places and I made new friends.  
  • I really appreciate the space the keynote speakers created in my thinking about teaching and learning. I have been frustrated of late with students and their interest in learning – and now I have a new approach (well, several, actually!). The Institute is invaluable.  
  • Providing teachers with opportunities to feel important and encourage each other and giving time to relax and enjoy…. 
  • Teachers are valued. Fellowship of other teachers was nice because we generally don’t have time to spend with each other due to work environment.  
  • Wiggins has me rethinking my goals and priorities and how I can look at my curriculum. I used to think that way and then I “fell” into the march to death of SOLs. I needed the wake-up call! 
  • Wow! Awesome! Thanks!

Conclusion

The Margaret Sue Copenhaver Institute continues to maintain its reputation as a distinctive venue for teacher professional development, one which honors teaching as a profession and provides participants with valuable instruction while offering personal respect.  The 2012 program offered participants the opportunity to hear from national and internationally recognized scholars during keynote sessions, to consider new ideas for classroom practice in breakout sessions, and to engage in reflective discussions with colleagues during R and R group meetings.  An environment of professional respect and care was intentionally fostered during the three day event. An ongoing concern about the quality of breakout session speakers was not a concern for participants this year. Our goal of finding a pool of qualified breakout speakers has been achieved through a new collaboration with the Virginia Teacher of the Year Network and by extending breakout invitations to previously successful presenters. 

Due to the national economic climate, the Institute has consistently experienced a downturn in annual income provided through the endowment.  Mrs. Helen Hanes’ generous annual gift has supplemented the income and is greatly appreciated.  The Office of Roanoke College’s President also continues to support MSCI by sponsoring lodging. The Institute directors continue soliciting funding from partner school divisions, scholarships from professional organizations, and annual grants from the Copenhaver Scholar in Residence Program at Roanoke College.

As the Institute moves forward, the directors and steering committee will continue to identify keynote and breakout speakers, themes and classroom practices that engage the issues and challenges of 21st century schools.  Speakers for MSCI 2013 and 2014 are identified and confirmed.  Strategies will also be considered for attracting a broad and diverse pool of participants.  Additionally, the Institute will continue to focus on ways to support teachers’ ongoing efforts to impact, measure and demonstrate the growth of K-12 students.  

Respectfully submitted,

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