The 2013 SUNY Buffalo State Professional Development Schools (PDS) Consortium Retreat will be held on Friday, September 27, at the Ramada Hotel and Conference Center. Attendees include Buffalo State students who are teacher candidates; faculty members; mentoring teachers; and school administrators.
The keynote speaker is Gregory Ahlquist, the 2013 New York State Teacher of the Year. “I think students need to, and want to, be challenged at the highest level,” he said in a video about his award. “I will use any vehicle I can to connect with a student.”
Ahlquist, a social studies teacher at Webster Thomas High School, received his award from New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch in Albany in October 2012. He has taught a variety of courses including an elective about the Holocaust, advanced placement (AP) world history, and AP European history. He is known for using teaching methods that inspire students and encourage questions, including drawing pictures to convey key concepts—a strategy his students love.
At the retreat, Ahlquist will give an interactive presentation to help participants define what they truly believe about learning and about students.
In keeping with one of the objectives of Buffalo State’s Year of the Teacher—the celebration of teaching and teachers—the retreat will include a celebration of 2012–2013 action research projects. Action research projects are projects that support collaboration between classroom teachers and Buffalo State faculty; focus on the learning of young students; and integrate the participation of Buffalo State students.
The projects, funded through mini-grants from the Buffalo State, take place in schools that are partners in the PDS. Such schools collaborate with Buffalo State to provide exceptionally high-quality experiences to Buffalo State’s teacher candidates. In turn, they benefit from professional development for classroom teachers. Both the schools and Buffalo State collaborate on research projects designed to address particular needs; the results are evaluated with the help of Buffalo State graduate students.
“This is our 19th retreat,” said Leslie Day, PDS codirector and assistant chair for undergraduate programs and advisement in the Elementary Education and Reading Department. “This year, we have several teachers from the Rochester area as well as teachers and administrators from local school districts.” Faculty members from other area colleges are also attending.
Everyone who attends learns something relevant to his or her role as teacher candidate, classroom teacher, school administrator, or professor. In addition to professional development, however, participants also have the opportunity to network with their peers and, for teacher candidates, with potential employers. Day said, “Perhaps the most important thing that our teacher candidates learn is that becoming a teacher means making a commitment to lifelong learning.”