Now in its fifth year, the IEA Summer Institute proved to be bigger and better than ever when some 200 members from all around the state gathered at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa for the 2017 installment in late July. This event, which is free for IEA members, has drawn rave reviews for its ability to provide strategies and tips on professional practice, as well as Association guidance. Built around a superheroes theme, this year’s Summer Institute encouraged members to embrace their natural superpowers as teachers and education leaders.
“We are firmly committed to professional development, and it is one of our foremost priorities,” said incoming IEA President Kari Overall in her first public remarks since being elected. “The IEA ensures that resources are available to our members, and the concept of having our members share their experiences with colleagues can’t be beaten.”
The IEA Summer Institute started with pre-sessions on July 26-27 with presentations on topics such as Idaho’s Master Teacher Premiums, early educator engagement and retention, racial justice, and transformational leadership dynamics. Following registration and a social event the evening of July 27, IEA Summer Institute participants dug in the next morning as the main sessions got under way. Presented primarily by IEA members and staff, the sessions covered a wide swath of topics relevant to professional educators in Idaho. Among the highlight sessions from this year’s event were:
- Students with Difficult Behaviors–Sherry Belknap, West Ada Education Association. This two-part session drew a packed room of members looking for insight on a critical topic. “Teachers are expected to manage diverse student populations, but very little training is provided by teacher preparation programs or by districts,” Belknap notes. “I tried to help people look at it through the lens of empathy so they can be more responsive and prescriptive instead of reacting in the moment.”
- Arithmetalk: Where Math and Language Meet–Meg Rowe, Boise Education Association. This eye-opening session focused on how to creative strategies are more effective than worksheets and other “traditional” techniques, especially for English Language Learners. In the big picture, Meg reminded members about the importance of finding the right tools to reach individual students, rather than being tied to a “factory” approach. “The needs of the kids was the impetus for me making changes,” she says. “If it isn’t working, we need to stop doing it.” Check out Meg’s terrific blog for ideas and strategies.
- How to Be a Transformational Leader in Turbulent Times–Lori Stieniker, Payette Education Association. With the help of guest presenter Mel House from the California Teachers Association, Steiniker urged members to move past the “we’ve always done it that way” approach and find more effective strategies and solutions. “We need to dissect what we are doing, whether in the classroom or as an Association, and make sure that we are doing things that are tied to our core values and make things better,” says Steiniker.
It’s never too early to start making plans for next year’s IEA Summer Institute, which heads to Lewis Clark State College in Lewiston, July 25-28, 2018. This is the IEA’s premier professional development and networking event, so put it on your calendar now!