The COVID-19 pandemic forced the IEA to cancel the 2020 Summer Institute, which had been scheduled for late July in Lewiston, and investigate other options for delivering the high-quality professional development members have come to rely on. Led by the IEA Center for Teaching and Learning, the Association quickly found a viable solution that would keep the same July 29-August 1 dates but move all the great professional development sessions online.
“The Center for Teaching and Learning team did a remarkable job of getting all the pieces in place for us to hold our marquee professional development event,” says IEA Region 4 Director Linda Jones, who serves as the staff liaison for CTL. “In fact, taking Summer Institute to an online platform has opened it up to members who might otherwise not have participated. We have had an amazing response.”
More than 600 IEA members have registered for the virtual Summer Institute. Partnering with technology vendor Big Marker, the IEA has set up a robust slate of sessions while keeping with the original theme of The Roaring 20s. The event will also feature keynote speaker Erik Francis, a professional education specialist with Maverick Education and author of the book Now That’s a Good Question.
Another innovation of the digital Summer Institute is the evening “speakeasies”, which are topic-driven, but open-ended discussions among members. “We are really excited about the speakeasy concept,” says Jones. “They provide an option for a little more social interaction while also giving members a chance to share their ideas and experiences, which is always one of the most rewarding aspects of Summer Institute.
The IEA Summer Institute remains free for IEA members, with college credits available.
“A big thank you to everyone involved in putting together a great event under trying circumstances,” says IEA President Layne McInelly. “Everyone stepped up to make sure we provide the kind of professional development experience members expect from us.”