As the COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed the world of education, faculty and staff across the College of Education (COE) jumped into action not only to adapt how they prepare future educators, but also to provide current educators relevant knowledge and tools to be successful in their “new” classrooms. This fall, COE provided multiple virtual professional development opportunities to our students, alumni, and educator friends across the country.

“Our mission is to provide the highest quality teachers for Illinois and I’m proud of the work that our faculty and staff have done and continue to do for current and future teachers in this ever-changing world of education,” said Dr. James Wolfinger, Dean of the College of Education. “As experts in the field, it’s so important for the college to continue to provide learning opportunities for current educators.”

Check out the professional development opportunities that colleagues across the college have provided and what is to come this spring!

Connecting the DOTS

The Connecting the DOTS website and webinar series was created to support educators and families in navigating the changing terrain of remote and hybrid learning during COVID-19. In a rapid response, faculty from across the COE have curated resources and organized live webinars on what we called Ten Considerations for Hybrid and Remote Instruction. This series is led by Dr. Anna Smith, Assistant Professor, and Dr. Robyn Seglem, Professor, both in the School of Teaching and Learning (TCH) and supported by the English Family.

“The live sessions have featured over 50 teachers, administrators, and College of Education faculty working together to lead right-on-time conversations about navigating the pandemic’s changing educational, social, and political landscape and to move us toward more just and equitable learning,” said Dr. Smith.

In just a month and a half, over 900 teachers, parents, administrators, and preservice teachers have registered and joined the live sessions, and the website has had over 2,200 visitors.

“As a profession, teachers often feel disconnected from other adults, and I think that’s why so many teachers have expressed their appreciation for these sessions—they don’t feel alone,” said Dr. Seglem. “They see that others are struggling in the same ways, and they are finding ways to move forward together.”

Dr. Smith continued, “And each week, Dr. Seglem and I receive at least two requests for more. We’ve wanted this to be as responsive and timely as we can be, and knowing that so many people across not just Illinois, but the US are looking to Illinois State University’s College of Education for continued leadership at this time, we’ve just started conversations with our faculty associates at the Lab Schools to imagine what might be most helpful as we move into the spring.” 

The website will remain live and now also features recorded videos from the live sessions. If you would like to learn more or be involved, please connect with Dr. Smith or Dr. Seglem.

Redbird Educator Series

Redbird Educator Series is hosted by the Borg Center for Reading and Literacy and provides webinars that support educators with research-based knowledge, practical strategies, and resources that can be integrated immediately into classroom practice. The series highlights COE faculty expertise and is a great way to disseminate scholarly work.

“The first semester of the Redbird Educator Series was a great success,” said Dr. Deborah MacPhee, Director of the Borg Center and Associate Professor in TCH. “We were excited to provide timely webinars on relevant topics to nearly 350 educators in Illinois and across the US.”

The fall faculty speakers from COE included Dr. Becky Beucher, Dr. Tara Kaczorowski, and Dr. Courtney Hattan. The spring webinars will highlight the expertise of faculty colleagues Dr. Shamaine Bertrand, Dr. Kate Peeples, and Dr. Erin Quast.

Recordings are available on the Borg Center website. If your work is relevant and accessible to classroom teachers, consider submitting a proposal to be a featured speaker in the future. You can connect with Dr. MacPhee.

Teaching in the 21st Century Conference

Hosted by COE and supported by the English Family, the Teaching in the 21st Century Conference is a hands-on, engaging learning opportunity designed for current and aspiring educators to gain an edge in using technology in the classroom. This year over 200 current students and educators attended virtually with more accessing the recordings.

Topics included building a support network through social media, Google Sheets, digital goal setting, tips for online learning, using theatre in all classes, empowering students through writing and new opportunities in remote learning. Check out the session recordings and look for more information in the future about the Fall 2021 conference to share with your students and alumni.

If you would like more information or would like to be involved in the future, connect with Molly Davis, Director of Constituent Relations.