This year, ATE held its annual conference in Atlanta at the Hyatt Regency. They also held a Pre-Service Teachers Strand designed specifically for college students in a teacher preparation program. This was great news for us! Since it was so close, Mrs. Jamie Bird and Mrs. Carolyn Gish were able to take six students to Atlanta to be a part of this experience. Of the six students who attended, four were undergraduates who are currently in their student teaching, and two of us were graduate-level.
This was a wonderful opportunity and I think all of the other students who attended would agree, being part of a national conference was an amazing, and eye-opening learning experience. We listened to speakers from around the country talk about current issues in education, as well as things that they wish they had known when they began their first year of teaching. It was nice to see that the things we worry about as we prepare for our first year of teaching are the same things that others worried about. I also saw that our teacher-preparation program in the Department of Early Childhood and Special Education is doing all the right things to prepare us for what’s to come. Our professors strive to teach us the most current and proven practices in an ever-changing field, as well as provide us with diverse classroom placements so we are able to experience a variety of experiences and environments.
Of all of the speakers we listened to, Dr. Howard Smith was by far my favorite. He talked to us about the “Top 10 Items That Make Your Classroom Come Alive”, and “Motivating and Managing Classrooms Us-ing Effective Humor”. His “Top 10” included things like Laugh and Smile Through the Day (#10), Make Day One An Unforgettable Day (#9), Set High Expectations for Your Students (#8), Develop A Great Attitude, and Help Your Students Develop One Also (#6), and You, the Classroom Teacher, Makes the Difference (#1). Dr. Smith also gave us a handout, called the “Survival Bag”, which helps you prepare for and make #10 a reality. As he spoke about “Motivating and Managing Classrooms Using Effective Humor”, he emphasized that management must always come before instruction and described how to be proactive, rather than reactive. He talked about how important attitude is, both that of the teacher and of her students. We also learned about the “Classroom Management Blueprint” which will help any new teacher plan and prepare for effective classroom management.
Some of the other speakers we heard from included Dr. Joyce King from Georgia State University, Dr. Betsy Rogers, and Dr. Jane McCarthy. Dr. King spoke about “The Role of Cultural Knowledge”, describing the importance of culturally connected curriculum, instruc-tion, and assessment. Dr. Rogers was the National Teacher of the Year and she spoke about some of her experiences, emphasizing showing the kids that you care about them, working to enhance their lives and mo-tivate them. Dr. McCarthy spoke about “Who’s Coming to School”, describing the importance of knowing your students and where they are coming from. She also taught us that any student can be considered “at risk” depending on the situation.
The topics that each speaker presented on are current-ly big issues in our field, and will help us be better teachers in the future. We could see that each of these presenters has a real passion for teaching and loves what they do. It was very inspiring and made all of us excited about and better prepared for entering the class-room and our first year of teaching.
Graduate Assistant-Early Childhood & Special Education