Meaningful student-driven events are the norm for the College of Education’s outstanding registered student organizations. The Student Education Association’s (SEA) first-ever conference, “Teaching Is a Balancing Act,” held on March 28, was no exception.
Conference sessions included faculty from across P–12 teacher education at Illinois State, and attendees were provided with professional development certificates.
“The feedback we received was extremely positive,” said SEA President Kaleigh Soumar, a sophomore early childhood education major. “The presenters connected with our audience in engaging, meaningful ways.”
In addition to providing professional development for almost 100 SEA and Illinois State education majors, the organization leveraged conference registration to benefit local nonprofits. In lieu of payment, the price of admission was a donation.
Their end-of-day tallies included more than 136 canned goods for Home Sweet Home Ministries, 78 school supply items for Sheridan Elementary School, and 21 tied blankets for The Baby Fold, according to Soumar.
Conference keynote speaker, Assistant Instructional Professor Kira Hamann ’05, kicked off the day with a presentation on classroom management. The former Chicago Public School (CPS) educator and Illinois State alum now prepares the University’s future teachers to serve early childhood and elementary populations, but has found the topic applicable across grade levels, including higher education.
“Classroom management is broad, but we focused on the value of setting up environments that promote intrinsic motivation for students in lieu of extrinsic motivation,” said Hamann. “When students are personally invested in their own success, rather than to strive for a prize or some sort of given reward, they are more likely to continue to develop positive habits and grow socially, emotionally, and academically.”
Hamann said her goal was to leave aspiring educators with a new perspective to consider about the profession. Managing a classroom is a tall task for a new educator, but a teacher’s approach must also balance the needs and requirements of school and state policy while providing personal time for oneself.
“I was impressed by the professionalism and organization of SEA in putting together this event, as well as the courtesy of the attendees,” Hamann said.
“They are getting an early understanding of the importance of what effective professional development looks like, and how it can help them to become better teachers.”
Soumar, who is among Illinois State’s youngest student organization leaders—and for one of the largest organizations on campus—was overwhelmingly grateful for the efforts within SEA and the entire education program.
“Our (SEA) executive board, advisor Assistant Dean Ken Fansler, Assistant Professor Sandra Osorio, and each presenter made this event great,” said Soumar. “I was too happy for words after it was all over!”