The College of Education and Human Development at Texas A&M University is working to build strong partnerships with school districts across the state. That goal is what prompted the Summit for Meaningful Impact of Learning and Education: A Texas Schools Summit in The Woodlands earlier this month.
Teachers, principals and administrators from Houston-area school districts got a chance to hear from top researchers in the field of education about best practices to ensure students are given the best opportunity to be successful.
“What this does is bring together lots of folks who are struggling with the same kinds of issues,” explained Dr. Joyce Alexander, dean of the College of Education and Human Development. “It also brings together world class experts from around the country who have done some great research and can help us explore ways to solve these real world problems.”
Dr. Kay Wijekumar, director of the Center for Urban School Partnerships, developed three goals for this summit. The first was to make a positive impact so that every child has the opportunity to succeed by having a solid foundation of education. The second goal was to bring powerful, well-researched methods for classroom instruction that have stood the test of time. The final goal was to allow school districts to bring challenges to the researchers to start partnerships to help make an impact on students.
“When I think about impact, the one thing I want to make sure we all understand is it’s not just colleges stepping in to fix schools. That’s not what this is about. It only works when colleges and schools work together in partnership and that’s when we can help solve real world problems,” said Dr. Alexander.
Presenters from across the country focused on ways to improve instruction related to learning in science, reading and writing and also how to help bilingual learners succeed. They also discussed factors that affect the implementations of these instructional programs and provided solid research evidence on which approaches work and which do not.
“Not every child in the classroom learns to read the same way. We need to take into account these different ways of learning and the constellations of skills the children bring to the classroom,” explained Dr. Carol McDonald-Connor, Chancellor’s Professor of education at the University of California – Irvine.
“Everything that happens in schools impacts the entire universe. That’s why I am so passionate about the children. These children are our future. Whatever we do to help them will help us all. Our world will be a better place if all of our children get an excellent education and become proactive citizens,” explained Dr. Wijekumar.
Because of devastating flooding, many who registered for the summit were unable to attend. Dr. Wijekumar is now making all of the presentations available online and is also planning an online summit follow-up.
“We want to allow the same people that registered to actually interact with those presenters after watching the video. We want to have a synchronous interaction where they can ask questions and those presenters would be available to them. We also want to have asynchronous interaction where they can send follow-up questions.”
Summit Intro with Dr. Kay Wijekumar
Dr. Joyce Alexander Presentation
Dr. Elsa Cardenas Hagan Presentation
Dr. Rafael Lara-Alecio and Dr. Beverly Irby Presentation
Dr. Carol McDonald-Connor Presentation
Dr. Steve Graham Presentation
Dr. Kay Wijekumar Presentation