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How to Spend Your Title II Funds: Professional Development Options to Consider

Monday, September 28, 2015

How to Spend Your Title II Funds: Professional Development Options to Consider

As September draws to a close, many school leaders are looking for ways to best allocate their Title II funds for the year. For educators who, like my first-year teacher self, didn’t know Catholic schools got this kind of funding, now is a great time to see if you can attend that conference you’ve been salivating over.

We asked some of our faculty members to tell us about their favorite conferences and professional development (PD) opportunities, making them promise to remain unswayed by where they took place or what free swag they received. Here is a list of what they recommended:

 

If your students are reading but not comprehending…

For nearly 30 years, Lindamood Bell has specialized in the learning processes behind reading and cognition, and their learning centers, school projects, and PDs all focus on turning that research into real results for struggling readers. “It was a goldmine for me as a young educator. The organization has a well-proven track record and… lots of PD to choose from,” says Dr. Maria McKenna, professor of Education and Africana Studies at Notre Dame. “ They offer multiple workshops every month in each region of the country.

Dr. Erin Wibbens, who studies and instructs ACE teachers in literacy pedagogy, also recommends state Reading Councils’ conferences for their variety and practicality since practicing educators are the ones presenting. Louis Sachar of Wayside School and Holes fame is presenting at Erin’s personal favorite, the Illinois Reading Council (IRC) Conference.

 

If you’re looking to improve student engagement or classroom management without sacrificing the other...

Responsive Classroom “is practical but grounded in really sound socio-emotional learning research,” says McKenna.  They offer one-day workshops from October to March and multi-day ones from June to August in big cities across the U.S.

 

If you want to build a more skill-focused humanities curriculum...

Both Dr. Brian Collier, professor of Education and History here at ND, and Mark Johnson, Faculty of Supervision and Instruction for ACE Teaching Fellows, recommend the National Council for the Social Studies’ annual and regional conferences. By attending the conferences, Johnson says, “upper elementary, middle, and high school teachers get techniques, methods, and best practices across all Social Studies disciplines. The take-aways are practical and can be implemented immediately to help improve instruction and meet student needs.”

 

If you need help reaching out to your English Language Learners…

Dr. Katy Lichon, Faculty Coordinator of ACE’s English as a New Language (ENL) program, recommends the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Convention, which deals with the pedagogy of language acquisition. “Your teachers,” she says, “will come away from the conference with a better understanding of how to teach their specific content and language at the same time and how to improve academic performance for these students." If you’re interested in the research behind language acquisition, she suggests the American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL) Conference.

Dr. Lichon and her team are also working to help fill the void of resources at the intersection of Catholic schools and language learners. Unbeknownst to many, ACE’s ENL program is an option for Title II since sending teachers through it counts as professional development. The ENL team also offers on-site professional development.

 

If you want science and math ideas you can use right now...

Dr. Matt Kloser, Director of the Center for Stem Education, says the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) conferences and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) are “the two strongest science and math teacher practice conferences, respectively. They have lots of engagement with ideas about teaching science and math. Not too research-y, but there are elements of research invested in it. You can go home and say, ‘I can use this tomorrow.’”

 

If you want to start implementing engineering curriculum in your school…

Dr. Gina Navoa Svarovsky, faculty in the Center for STEM Education and the College of Engineering at Notre Dame, recommends the K-12 educator workshop at American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) as well as Engineering is Elementary’s trainings. “Engineering can often be outside of the comfort zone for K-12 teachers,” Svarovsky says. “These PD opportunities focus not only on providing you with tools you can use right away, but also building your confidence as an engineering educator.”

 

If you want to dive deeper into diversity training…

Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity (SEED) has a week-long training that, while costly, is “the best PD” McKenna has ever attended. “It is an excellent program for beginning to unpack and address issues and challenges around diversity in educational environments.” It’s the training the trainer model, meaning one person from a school goes and comes back prepared to teach the rest of the staff about what he or she learned.

 

What conferences or professional development opoportunities have you attended with your Title II funding?