College of Education Newsletter

July 2018

Message from the Dean:

Well, August is almost here and for us that means time to begin a new semester. I simultaneously love and hate August. On one hand I hate to see the end of summer. I love the long days of sunshine, the chance to swim/hike/camp/canoe/vacation, the ability to spend more time with my boys, and the somewhat slower pace that summer brings. On the other hand, I love starting a new academic year. The new students, new faculty, abundance of ideas, and energy that the new term brings is so exciting and infectious that you can't help looking forward to it. In preparation for the beginning of the new academic year, I've been reading articles about things professors should do before going back to school. Here are some that I think you might enjoy:

  1. Get new school supplies (the elementary teacher in me LOVES colored pens, sticky notes, and new notebooks)
  2. Finish your summer reading and/or summer Netflix binge
  3. Take a day to yourself and enjoy doing what you love to do for the full day
  4. Frequent your favorite restaurant (or spend time cooking your favorite meal)
  5. Write down some goals for the year
  6. Get organized.... clean your office, update your vitae, and get your teaching materials in order
  7. Get inspired

I hope you all get to enjoy the last days of summer. Our students depend on you to make each class, research project, internship, and university experience exceptional. Take some time for yourself so you are ready to give them your best.


Bearswrite: From Pencils to Pixels

The UCA College of Education hosted the seventh annual Bearswrite Writing Camp on June 25 - June 29, 2018. The camp, designed for aspiring authors entering grades 4 to 9, included 72 young authors, 7 master teachers, 7 teacher assistants, one visiting author, and a visiting visual artist.

Bearswriters were involved in five action-packed days of writing using both traditional methods and writing with technology. Campers studied how to use voice, setting, word choice, character traits, point-of -view, journaling, and poetry.

Campers were inspired to write through fieldtrips on campus, a writing workshop with a visiting author Mike Mullin, interaction with visual artist Cathy Hunt, and a performance by the Arkansas Shakespeare Theater.

Campers created individual, digital portfolios of their best work. A final authors’ reception and closing ceremony was held on Friday June 29th in Mashburn Hall. Campers shared their work in public performance with parents and community members.

In addition to Stephanie Vanderslice, Donna Wake, and Jeff Whittingham of the UCA Department of Writing and the UCA Department of Teaching and Learning respectively, camp teachers included Erin Shaw of UCA Department of Leadership Studies as well as Janie Mason, Beth Lasley, Weeji Niswonger, Beth Tyler, Melinda Francis, and Sarah Coker (all of Conway Public Schools). Camp faculty were teacher consultants for the National Writing Project (NWP). Classroom writing assistants included current undergraduate and graduate teacher education candidates.

Media and Literacy Leadership Conference:

The Media and Literacy Leadership Conference was held at UCA on Tuesday, July 10th 2018. The conference was a joint endeavor of the departments of Teaching & Learning, Leadership Studies, and Elementary, Literacy, & Special Education. Of the 62 participants, 85% were school librarians, 10% were literacy specialists, and 5% were Language Arts teachers.

The goal of the the conference was to serve all P-12 educators interested in the improvement of literacy through the use of various forms of media and technology. In addition, we hoped to inspire all educators to become leaders and advocate for their students.

COE Faculty: Dr. Patty Phelps

Dr. Patty Phelps’ love of faculty development work started in the early 1980’s when she held a graduate assistantship in the faculty development center at Mississippi State University. Her job was to design programming events and develop materials for graduate teaching assistants on campus. Dr. Phelps stated she thoroughly enjoyed fulfilling that role (while also teaching Latin part-time on campus and working on her doctorate). After completing her doctorate at Texas A & M—Commerce in 1987, she joined the faculty at UCA in the Department of Administration & Secondary Education.

As a result of participating in a grant-writing workshop sponsored by the College of Education, Dr. Phelps co-authored a grant to establish UCA’s faculty development center—the Instructional Development Center or IDC (now known as the Center for Teaching Excellence). Her co-authors for the grant were the Graduate Dean, Dr. Robert McLaughlin, and Dr. Debbie Howell, former chair of KPED. The IDC opened its doors in the summer of 1993 on the first floor of Torreyson Library near the circulation desk. During its first year, the IDC was funded by the grant from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education. In subsequent years, the Provost’s Office at UCA has funded its operation. The IDC’s first director was Joan Pritchard (who was Associate Provost and an accounting professor). Dr. Phelps served as a faculty coordinator for the IDC and conducted individual teaching consultations, instructional workshops, and book discussion groups. Her most frequently requested workshop consisted of helping faculty create their teaching portfolios. She served as Director of the IDC from 2011-2014 but stepped aside when she entered phased retirement.

Upon reflecting on her many years of service to the university, Dr. Phelps guesses she just likes to talk about teaching. She stated, “Any chance I have to help others become more effective teachers appeals to me. Perhaps it’s because I struggled so much during my early years as a high school teacher. I view learning to teach as a lifelong endeavor, and faculty development has been a mechanism to support the growth of others. The relationships I have formed with faculty on campus have enriched my experience here. Being one of the founders of a place on campus dedicated to instructional improvement is something I am proud of contributing at UCA.”

Dr. Phelps recently returned from attending The Teaching Professor Conference (TPC) in Atlanta. While there, she presented a session on ways to connect with students. This was the 15thannual conference and Dr. Phelps has attended nine of them. She stated, “Over the years, the TPC has become my favorite professional conference because it primarily focuses on helping faculty from all subject areas become better teachers. As a teacher educator, I suppose I am a faculty developer at heart.”

Dr. Phelps hopes she is able to attend her 10th Teaching Professor Conference next June in New Orleans. Right now, she has been invited to write a piece for The Teaching Professornewsletter about the topic of her most recent conference session.

Faculty Accomplishments:

Congratulations to Dr. Amy Thompson! On July 11th, she successfully defended her dissertation entitled: MAT Teacher Candidates' Perceptions of Balanced Literacy and Student Learning: Influences of Transformative Learning Experiences.

Dr. Thompson is Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator for the MSE Reading/Dyslexia Therapist Endorsement program in the Elementary, Literacy, and Special Education department at UCA.