November 20, 2015 at 1:30pm
Dane Lisser

Next Generation of Teachers

School of Education Conference

Education conferences provide plenty of opportunities for teachers to learn more about ideas and concepts that develop teaching practices, but what about the teachers of tomorrow?

Faculty and students from Millikin University's School of Education shared their ideas and concepts with future educators during the Tomorrow's Teachers Conference held on Nov. 12. Millikin's School of Education, along with members of Millikin's Pi Lambda Theta education honor society and Illinois Education Association (IEA) chapter, welcomed 75 high school students to campus to learn more about the education field and the Millikin School of Education experience.

Students from area schools such as Decatur MacArthur, Monticello, and Riverton took part in sessions that explored different topics of education.

Dr. Joyce Bezdicek, associate professor of education, spoke on a course she teaches entitled "Integrating Culture in the Classroom." Dr. Bezdicek shared stories of experience from schools she visited as well as times when she was a classroom teacher in a multilingual preschool.

Student Panelist speaks during School of Education Conference

"One of the big things that we emphasize in the course is the importance of learning from families," said Dr. Bezdicek. "We also emphasize the importance of how fascinating it is to be in the field when you're working with children who are emerging bilinguals, and their families speak languages other than English. The important thing is to recognize the resource they can bring to your classroom."

Dr. Ngozi Onuora, associate professor of education, discussed graphic novels and how comic books have become a source of content learning and visual literacy.

"Sometimes we look at literature with a critical lens," said Dr. Onuora. "Variety of topics and genres are available in graphic novels to meet any interest, and we know that when children are interested in reading they are more motivated to pick up a book."

It's so important for us to place our students in a very diverse set of internships so that they have that Performance Learning experience in different areas.

After taking tours of Dennis Lab School and Millikin University, the high school students got to hear from Millikin Education undergrads during a student panel discussion. The Millikin students answered questions on balancing co-curricular activities and the type of experiences offered in the School of Education.

"When I got started at Millikin as a freshman I was put into an internship, so I found out right away that I was passionate about teaching," said Meredith Crook, a senior from Monticello, Ill. "You get a lot of experience right away and you don't have to wait until your junior year."

Student Panelists at School of Education Conference

Christina Wilke, a senior form Wheaton, Ill., and president of Millikin's Pi Lambda Theta chapter, said, "My eyes have been open to possibly taking a special education job because you can get endorsed at Millikin to teach at that level without having to go to graduate school. My time at Millikin has been challenging, but rewarding, because I chose this path knowing that someday I'm going to be in charge of teaching students."

Dr. Christie Magoulias, director of the School of Education, says it's important to provide great examples for students when considering a future career. "Statistically, there will be a 17 percent increase in teachers by 2020 and we think that correlates to the students who are choosing their careers right now. Our goal is to have them pursue their passion for teaching, and that they find an education program that fits and that they become the next generation of teachers."

Student Panelist speaks during School of Education Conference

In terms of Performance Learning, Dr. Magoulias noted, "At Millikin, our early childhood and elementary education majors graduate with hundreds of hours of internship experience. Our majors have close to 400 internship hours by the time they student teach. It's easy for us to show examples of what Performance Learning is because of the connection between theory and practice."

Dr. Magoulias added, "For education majors, there are so many places that students may end up in their first position. It's so important for us to place our students in a very diverse set of internships so that they have that Performance Learning experience in different areas." 

The School of Education held its first conference last year and Dr. Magoulias says they plan to continue to host conferences in the future. "This is something we plan to do each year, change it each year, and provide different experiences each fall."

For more information on Millikin's School of Education, visit millikin.edu/education.