SUNY Cortland will host a wide-ranging conference for local teachers on Friday, March 17, featuring a jump rope workshop, tips on creating a classroom ukulele orchestra and a guide on how to talk about fake news with children.
Those are just a few of the unique topics to be explored at “Connect, Create, Innovate: A Professional Development Event for Teachers and School Professionals,” which will run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Corey Union. The conference is aimed at professionals who teach the arts, physical education, health, technology, consumer sciences and foreign language as well as school librarians and speech pathologists. Experimental hands-on workshops and presentations will give those teachers and professionals a chance to observe and network with leading innovators.
The demand for such a conference comes from teachers in these specialized subjects who often have few peers in their own schools. Getting together with professionals and teachers from other districts is a rare opportunity for these educators to learn new methods and compare notes.
“Because many of the schools in our region are small and rural, they don’t have a lot of colleagues, particularly the specific, smaller content areas,” said Alexis Abramo, grant project manager for SUNY Cortland’s School of Education. “You may only have one chemistry teacher. You probably only have one art or music teacher, and particularly those subjects, they don’t have colleagues to work together with to share ideas and get energized about their content area.”
Vicki Wilkins, a professor in SUNY Cortland’s Parks, Recreation and Leisure Studies Department, will present a keynote address entitled “A Life Worth Living.” Wilkins’ work focuses on diversity, inclusion and disability awareness, children’s games and activities from around the world and helping people learn to make the most of their leisure time.
In all, 38 different sessions are scheduled during the conference. Other sessions include how to grow plants to use in the Japanese dyeing technique of shibori, an introduction to the history, music and culture of hip-hop and connecting technology teachers and students to the needs of the modern construction industry. Presenters include local teachers, professors, professionals and artists.
“The presenters are outside of what you would think of for teachers because these are fields that are living in the real world,” Abramo said. “This is to educate, inspire and help them come up to date and learn what’s going on at other schools. “
A total of 185 teachers from around the state plan to attend.
The afternoon session will conclude with a networking period and an opportunity for participants to discuss the conference and complete an evaluation of their experience. This is the first conference of its kind that SUNY Cortland has hosted, but Abramo said the College hopes to hold similar events in the future.
The event is co-sponsored by Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES.