Use the right words, don’t do two things at once and set up a game plan all seem like common sense applications to us, but to teachers, these are essential guidelines in developing an educational environment conducive to learning.   There has been so much literature and research about how to develop good teaching and best practices and more recently, how to train teachers to reach students in a way that helps them learn, grow and excel with confidence. 

On Sunday, March 7, Rider University education students engaged in a day of teaching, learning and sharing at the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education Third Annual Workshop Day. More than 55 undergraduate Elementary and Secondary Education students participated in several concurrent sessions ranging from Differentiation and Inclusion, Literacy Across the Content Areas to Teaching in Urban Schools, and Using Technology in the Middle and High School

“It gives the students a sense of leadership and professional development before they leave for their student teaching placements,” said Dr. Heather Casey, co-adviser of KDP and assistant professor of Teacher Education. 

All of the workshops were student led, and each session provided participants with content knowledge of the subject area, collaborative discussion and hands-on learning. This sandbox format allowed the students to develop a better understanding of the applications presented and a way to embed the new knowledge into their teaching strategies.

“We have tried to make the day meaningful for all of our members,” said Libby Santini, president of KDP and a senior Elementary Education and Integrated Sciences dual major. “We asked our membership what they were interested in, we asked possible presenters what they would like to speak about, we reached out to a student who has taught in urban schools to present and we asked our alumni to come back and present on their experiences in the classroom.”

Liz Sterling, a senior Elementary Education and Psychology dual major, was a presenter in the workshop, Differentiation and Inclusion. Sterling was empowered by her teaching experiences at Mercer County Special Services and Toll Gate Grammar School in Hopewell Township, to deliver a presentation that would enable “participants to teach all children with confidence and assurance.”

During the session, How to Survive Your First Year Teaching, Rider alumni mapped out the months after graduation leading to the beginning of the school year for students.

“Students spend more time in the classroom with you than their own house, so you have to make it welcoming and inviting” said Katie Santini ’08, teacher and original coordinator for the first KDP Workshop Day three years ago. “The first year is going to be hard so you have to ask yourself, what works and experiment. It takes a lot of sharing and collaboration, stories and experiences, learning how to work with colleagues and getting to know your grade-level partners.”

Angela DiFranco, a senior Elementary Education and Psychology dual major, was happy to participate in an event that invites learning and enrichment. 

“If you are going to teach in an urban school like me next semester, it is important for you to know what to expect from others who have done it successfully,” DiFranco said.