The Institute for Learning Partnership’s 15th Annual Fall Conference had a theme that resonated with all who attended — “We are more alike than different.” More than 200 educators, school administrators, pre-service teachers and UW-Green Bay community members and students attended the two-day conference held in UW-Green Bay’s University Union, October 17-18.
The Fall Conference hosted several speakers from multi-cultural backgrounds that presented on the topic of diversity in the classroom and how educators can use their understanding of differences to raise awareness and include all students in learning.
This year’s keynote speaker was Dr. Peter Jonas, a professor of research and chairperson of the doctoral leadership department at Cardinal Stritch University, Milwaukee. His presentation highlighted the importance of using humor as a helpful tool to break down barriers and get students learning in a fun and interactive environment. Jonas used several clips from comedians as well as sitcoms to get the audience’s attention. As a professor of statistics, Jonas shared his challenges to get students to care about what they are learning and to get them involved in the class content. Jonas’ messages could be applied to business and leadership.
“I had the opportunity to attend two of Prof. Jonas’ presentations and I found him to be very engaging,” said conference attendee Katy DeVillers, a professional learning specialist for Green Bay Area Public Schools. “He effectively presented and modeled at the same time regarding his research on humor. He also knew his audience and consistently shared how to use his information in a variety of ways to meet those who work with school staff and students as well as community members.”
Several UW-Green Bay faculty and community members participated in the conference, some in a panel discussion that generated thoughtful audience participation, others as facilitators in various breakout sessions based on their background and area of expertise. Each presenter met with attendees in small classroom settings and lead conversations based on topics regarding diversity in education.
Dr. Lisa Poupart of the UW-Green Bay’s First Nation Studies program discussed how important it is for teachers to understand the differences between various Native American tribes, and explained the cultural differences between tribes. She said understanding these differences is key to reaching Native students in the classroom.
Professor Aurora Cortes de Fulton spoke on the differences of life in Mexico versus life in America. She told how the priorities in Mexican society are focused around family and it being the most important facet of Mexican life. Work and money are important to Mexican culture because it is necessary to fund family time, get-togethers and parties. Cortes de Fulton expressed how strong societal emphasis on the family in Mexican culture dictates work and time management, which is useful information for educators to understand in every classroom.
For more information on the 15th Annual Fall Conference please visit the Institute for Learning Partnership website.
Story by Daniele Frechette, photos by Marketing and University Communications photo intern Veronica Wierer
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