Last modified: Monday, June 25, 2007
Award-winning teachers compare notes, share ideas at IU
Past, present Armstrong Teacher Educators participate in retreat at IU School of Education
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 25, 2007
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Some of Indiana's best and brightest teachers spent two days at the Indiana University School of Education over the weekend as a part of the annual Armstrong Teacher Educator summer retreat. Twenty-three past and current Armstrong teachers from across Indiana attended professional development seminars and discussed their current experiences Friday and Saturday. Eight Indiana University students also participated as well as School of Education faculty and staff.
Armstrong award winners are nominated by district superintendents and principals, and chosen by a committee of IU faculty and former recipients. The teachers are selected for patterns of outstanding teaching and school leadership as well as their potential to work effectively as mentors and role models for pre-service teachers. The cohort of Armstrong Teacher Educators named for the 2007-08 school year marks the tenth class of award recipients.
While the teachers spent much of their time in sessions learning new ideas, they also noted that making connections with other Armstrong teachers is a valuable outcome of the retreat.
"It's a great way to network teachers who have great ideas and can piggyback off each other," said Cindy Newton, an Armstrong recipient from two years ago who is a middle school media specialist in Connersville. She says she learned a lot just speaking to colleagues over meals. "At the table where I was at lunch, I was just talking to another teacher who is a middle school teacher, another who is sixth grade," she said. "It really helps to get ideas, bounce things off of each other, see what works, what doesn't work."
During workshop sessions, teachers like Newton discussed ideas that have worked well for them. Newton shared her experience using new technology with her students, a skill she is also sharing with an international audience as the June expert for the PBS Teachers professional development website. Newton writes tips and ideas for the "Media Infusion" portion of the site (http://www.pbs.org/teachers/mediainfusion/).
A middle school language arts and reading teacher from northern Indiana demonstrated how she brings word usage to life for her students. Susan Mattocks of Tri-County Middle-Senior High School in Wolcott earned the Armstrong Teacher Educator title this spring. She has developed some unusual ways to engage her students in understanding language. Over the weekend, she asked retreat participants to use word games she's developed, such as constructing short stories entirely from a random grouping of English-language idioms. Her students in Wolcott have told the story of metaphors in living color, producing a video on the subject last spring. Mattocks said she works to make her lessons "world-applicable and life-applicable" for students. She adds, "Anytime you can get the arts involved like I did with the digital camera or with their own artistic work, they really enjoy it even more."
The Armstrong Teacher Educator summer retreat is part of continuing professional development for participants in the program. Throughout each school year, Armstrong teachers invite IU students and faculty to visit their classrooms and also work with campus-based courses, panel discussions, field experience sites, student teaching seminars, research projects and many other activities.
"Our annual Armstrong retreat offers a unique opportunity for award-winning teachers, university faculty and teacher-education students to rub shoulders and learn from one another," said the Armstrong chair in teacher education, professor Diana Lambdin. She points to a variety of weekend activities, including a faculty lecture on students' and teachers' free speech rights, a multi-media presentation by a teacher involved in founding a charter school, and a panel discussion organized by student leaders from the Dean's Advisory Council.
The awards are made possible through the Martha Lea and Bill Armstrong Fund in Teacher Education, established through a gift from Cook Group Companies Inc. of Bloomington. The endowment also supports the Martha Lea and Bill Armstrong Chair in Teacher Education. More information about the Armstrong program is available at http://www.indiana.edu/~atea.
MEDIA OUTLETS: The following comments are available as mp3 files on the IU School of Education Website at http://education.indiana.edu/audio.html.
Mattocks describes how she tries to teach language skills to her middle school students:
"...world-applicable and life-applicable, and anytime you can get the arts involved like I did there either with the digital camera or with their own artistic work, they really enjoy it even more."
Newton says the Armstrong experience provides a great network of teacher resources:
"There are three of us from my year here, and we often e-mail each other or talk to each other. The other day I was talking to somebody about a middle school technology teacher, and he mentioned the person was also an Armstrong teacher, and I've contacted him and put them together. So it's a great way to network teachers who have great ideas and can piggyback off each other."
Newton says she spent much of her time during the retreat "talking shop":
"At the table where I was at lunch, just talking to another teacher who is a middle school teacher, another who is sixth grade. So it really helps to get ideas, bounce things off of each other, see what works, what doesn't work, and so on. Especially if you're in the middle of change, it's nice to have people from around the state to talk to, just get some advice from."