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More than 150 local teachers learn new teaching methods at 2012 Chancellors Academy

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - 11:57

Vice President and Chancellor Phyllis Wise warmly welcomed 150 local teachers to this year's Chancellor's Academy, which kicked off on June 11, 2012. This year's Academy was themed "Empowering Teachers and Students: Learning from Practice."

She praised the calling and work of early childhood, primary, and secondary educators, saying, "We know you're not in Education to get rich. You are in it for the noble profession it really is—a profession where you help shape the next generation of leaders," Wise said.

"Some of my best teachers were those who taught me how to learn, not just what to learn," Wise said. "Teachers are so incredibly important in a child's ability to develop to their fullest potential. We are so grateful that you have committed your lives to this profession."

The Chancellor's Academy, which began in 2005, provides opportunities for teachers from the Champaign and Urbana schools to get concentrated professional development to enhance their teaching practices. Academy participants included teams of teachers from nearly all public schools in Champaign and Urbana. The Academy ran the week of June 11 at the iHotel and Convention Center in Champaign.

Presenters at the event included "Beyond Programs: Proactive Approaches to Prosocial Behaviors" by Dorothy Espelage, professor in Educational Psychology; "Changing our Conception of Normal" by William Trent, professor in EPOL; and "Lessons Learned" by Superintendent Preston Williams, Urbana District 116.

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View photos on the College of Education Flickr.

The Academy is the outgrowth of an essential partnership between the Champaign and Urbana public schools and the Center for Education in Small Urban Communities, according to Lisa Monda-Amaya, the Center's director of research collaboration. The Center is a service, outreach, and research unit within the College of Education at the University of Illinois.

“Our relationship with the Urbana and Champaign schools really is collaborative," said Monda-Amaya in her opening remarks. Speaking to the participants, she said, "We truly hope that the Academy is valuable to you; that it gives you the kinds of information that you’ll carry over into your classroom,” adding that the event is very much teacher-driven and teacher-led.

This year’s Academy focused on helping teachers become more purposeful and responsive in planning and implementing their instruction to better meet the needs of all their students. In addition, the Academy strives to build participants' breadth of experience by encouraging and preparing them to share what they’ve learned, to encourage others to examine their own instructional practices, and to support the growth of teacher inquiry as the basis for professional learning.

In implementing new practices in the classroom, one teacher/participant had this to say, "I would like to collaborate more with my team and other grade levels as we have students teach other students. I also plan to use photoscopes and voice thread in my science unit on insects, and then try to use voice thread to combine writing and sciences (in an insect or weather unit or some other unit)."

Another teacher/participant said she or he would like to implement new insight gained at the Academy by promoting "meta-collaboration. We are planning on mixing a second and third grade class and work toward collaborative learning through shared pieces of literature."

Yet another teacher/participant summed up the week by saying, "It's very difficult to choose one thing that was most valuable. The Academy was a collaborative work that connected teachers, U of I, (and) community through sharing of experiences and many resources. Together, they made the impact which will make me a better teacher and facilitator."

Keynote speakers and facilitators for the Academy included UI faculty, teacher collaborators at the Center, local teachers and instructional coaches, and invited national experts. The five-day event included significant time for teachers to collaborate and plan in teams focused on key issues, such as literacy, mathematics, science, social studies, technology, and the arts. Academy participants will also receive support to ensure that the learning and momentum of the Chancellor’s Academy continues into the school year.

Follow-up opportunities for this year's Academy were funded in part by a generous grant from State Farm Insurance Companies.