Melissa Rosman, Editor-in-Chief
This past Saturday, September 28, SUNY Oneonta hosted the 10th annual Best Practices in Teaching and Counseling Conference themed, “A Multifaceted Endeavor: An Exploration of Teaching and Learning in the Classroom, the Community, and Beyond.” Conference director, Dr. Alex Jean-Charles said, “the [conference] panel highlighted the importance of students majoring in education to make connections for their students with the world beyond the standards and tests in the school in which they will serve as educators.”
The conference was a daylong event organized by the School of Education at SUNY Oneonta and took place from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in various rooms at Hunt Union. There were two keynote sessions featuring Mr. Bruce Bonney in the morning and Dr. Carol Dean, Ms. Linda Drake, Dr. Ashok Malhotra, Mr. Kenneth Sider, and Ms. Anne Louise Wagner in the afternoon. The rest of the day was split up into workshop sessions held by diverse presenters centered on the conference theme.
Best Practices welcomed over 300 local teachers and students to partake in the annual affair and provided information on current trends in education and was suitable for teachers of all content areas. The events were labeled in the program “All Audiences,” “Early Childhood/Elementary” or “Secondary” to help participants determine which session would best meet their appropriate professional development needs.
With the theme of learning outside of the classroom, some presentations were centered on traditional teaching methods with the incorporation of the use of web 2.0 technology and virtual field trips. Other sessions focused on the Common Core, modules and incorporating standards into lesson planning. The presentations are encouraged but not mandated to follow the theme of the year, however, they all must be related to a best practice.
The sessions remained informative and innovative, encouraging audience participation along the way. Sessions such as “You do Have Time for That! Common Core and Digital Authentic Assessment” presented by Dr. Kjersti VanSlyke Briggs, Devon Dickens and Danielle Matthews offered hands on experience with the presentation materials. This allowed teacher candidates and teachers to become familiar with the technology being explained. Though some presentations were not as kinesthetic, all sessions did include a brief period blocked for a Q&A session with the presenter.
Oneonta Students and faculty responded positively and agreed the conference was successful. Presenter and secondary education professor Dr. VanSlyke Briggs, regarding the conference said, “It was nice to see such a diverse selection of presentations. This was the first year to run sub strands in this conference and overall it was a success. The conference was well attended and it was nice to see such enthusiasm from the students.”
Best Practices allow current undergraduate and graduate students to be very involved throughout the day, therefore the attendance of methods and block students as well as current student teachers was high. Students were given the opportunity to be volunteer facilitators during the sessions, which meant having the opportunity to introduce the speaker and provide the audience with evaluation forms. In this way, students were not only provided with a professional development experience but were able to participate as well.
When asked about her opinion of the conference, senior Samantha Gifford, secondary education and English major said, “Best Practices was a great learning experience for me. As a methods student, I took a lot away from the sessions and I learned techniques and tools that I can use in my future classroom. I thought the theme was interesting, innovative and I thought that most of the presenters did a great job keeping the conference unique and stimulating.”
Best Practices in Teaching and Counseling coordinators are already preparing for next October by currently accepting proposals for the 2014 conference. The theme has been released and will be “Making a Difference with Teaching.” Submissions are welcome and are based on a 50-minute time slot.