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Inaugural K-12 Teacher Institute a Success

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Over the past two weeks, more than 300 teachers representing 80 schools around the state of Arkansas have encountered an innovative approach to professional development during the inaugural Arkansas Tech University K-12 Summer Teacher Institute at the Lake Point Conference Center. 
 
The institute, which is coordinated by the Arkansas Tech College of Arts and Humanities, gives teachers an opportunity to earn professional development hours while gaining knowledge they can relay directly to their students when the new academic year begins next month.
 
“The majority of professional development centers on pedagogy,” said Dr. M. Diane Gleason, assistant professor of history and K-12 liaison in the Arkansas Tech College of Arts and Humanities. “It is very rare for it to be based on subject matter and content. I had a participant tell me that she has been in education for four decades, and this was only the second professional development opportunity she had ever attended that addressed content.
 
“We think that content-based outreach is a way to help teachers have additional tools for student learning,” continued Gleason. “The teachers have been incredibly receptive, and we have had some excellent presentations.”
 
The daily sessions began on Monday, July 9, and continued through Friday, July 20. Topics have ranged from Shakespeare to Arkansas studies to the creation of the U.S. Constitution and beyond.
 
“Our goal is not to mandate…we want to offer whatever enrichment that the teachers request,” said Gleason. “Anytime we can create a collegial relationship between colleagues in higher education and K-12 education, we are moving toward improved student learning. We work with the same students, just at different times.”
 
After the morning sessions on various topics over the past two weeks, the afternoons have been invested in learning more about the Arkansas common core, critical thinking and how to apply that day’s lesson to the further development of students.
 
“I believe the overwhelming response we’ve seen indicates there is a need for this type of professional development,” said Dr. H. Micheal Tarver, dean of the Arkansas Tech College of Arts and Humanities. “Our goal is to be a viable resource to help K-12 educators enhance their classroom instruction by providing access to meaningful content.”
 
The Arkansas Tech K-12 Summer Teacher Institute goes hand-in-hand with another initiative by the Arkansas Tech College of Arts and Humanities.
 
Between August 2011 and May 2012, faculty members in the college developed 75 lectures on a variety of topics that were recorded and placed on DVD. The lectures are available free of charge to any teacher that requests them.
 
Gleason said that the plan is to offer a similar summer teacher institute in 2013 and to continue to build the catalog of recorded lectures.
 
“It has gone extremely well,” said Gleason. “I will be anxious to review the evaluations that our participants filled out. The feedback we have received has been very positive.”
 
For more information about accessing the resources made available through the Arkansas Tech College of Arts and Humanities K-12 initiative, visit www.atu.edu/humanities/k12.php, call (479) 968-0448 or send e-mail to mgleason@atu.edu.

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