Transforming Education: VU hosts Innovative Teaching Summit

A man showing a female student a mechanical dog.

November 06, 2023

VINCENNES, Ind. – The Vincennes University College of Social Science, Performing Arts, and Communication recently played host to an inspiring and collaborative summit that brought together educators from all levels aimed at ensuring equitable, effective, and modern learning environments for all students.

 The annual Phillip M. Summers Innovative Teaching Summit serves as a platform for passionate teachers, administrators, and VU Education majors from diverse educational levels and backgrounds to connect, share, and explore innovative ideas related to education.

More than 150 individuals from throughout the region participated in the one-day event on the Vincennes Campus. Participants from preschool, primary, and secondary schools, as well as higher education institutions, gathered to exchange insights, strategies, and best practices related to supporting underserved populations, STEM, technology tools, virtual and blended learning, and more. It also serves as an outstanding chance for VU students to realize the importance and value of ongoing professional growth as they navigate their journeys as educators. 

Clark Middle School Assistant Principal Tricia Hall said, “We are fortunate to have this opportunity right here in our backyard. ITS brings together all educators to learn about topics and strategies that are applicable to all students and to help each of us improve in our craft. Whether it be reading, Universal Design for Learning, STEM, and critical thinking or processing skills, ITS has sessions each educator can relate to and grow from. We all strive to do what is best for our students each day. We each want them to be successful at the next level. ITS is bringing us all together to help us learn from each other and see how topics intersect at each level of education.”

VU Education majors enjoy the Technology Playground in Jefferson Student Union.

The summit fostered a dynamic atmosphere of intellectual exchange, where educators engaged in lively discussions, presentations, and experiences, all aimed at advancing excellence in education. Sessions offered included Robot Dogs in Education, The Role of Reading Comprehension in the Science of Reading, Artificial Intelligence in Education, Emotional Regulation through Breath, Adverse Childhood Experiences Training, Foreign Language Panel, Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis, and more. There was also a Technology Playground filled with vendors exhibiting innovative ideas and products.

 VU English Professor and Summit Organizer Jamie Singleton said, "At Vincennes University, our mission is to develop people and enhance communities through accessible, high-quality educational programs. The Innovative Teaching Summit embodies this mission. This event aligns seamlessly with VU's vision of being a premier learning institution known for innovation and the delivery of successful educational experiences.”

LeDune during his keynote speech in Jefferson Student Union.

The keynote speaker was Southwest School Corporation STEM Coach Dr. Chad LeDune. A 20-year veteran classroom educator, LeDune believes that the right mindset enables life's ups and downs to mold us into the best version of ourselves. He is passionate about empowering individuals to step outside their comfort zones and into personal and professional growth.

LeDune’s presentation featured his book, “Discomfort by Design.” The book promotes an instructional model that fosters academic, life, and social skills in all students.

"Sharing research-based and practical, innovative teaching methods positively impacts educational experiences for students,” LeDune said. “Having a conference such as ITS is so exciting because these impacts will be led by educators right here in our communities. A conference such as ITS, with its reach, also gives these messages an opportunity to impact students beyond our community.”

VU extends a great appreciation to the summit’s generous sponsors, including the Duke Energy Foundation, Purdue InMac, Five Star Technology Solutions, Moss Educational and Industrial Training Solutions, and Amplify, for their invaluable support in keeping the event affordable.

“The significance of providing affordable professional development opportunities to educators in southwestern Indiana cannot be emphasized enough,” Singleton said. “This event directly addresses a critical need in our region, providing an invaluable platform for educators to enhance their skills and remain current with the latest teaching techniques and technologies. By ensuring that professional development is accessible and affordable, we actively contribute to the growth and prosperity of our communities, creating a more inclusive and dynamic educational landscape for everyone in southwestern Indiana."

Emotional Regulation through Breath session in Updike Hall.

The Innovative Teaching Summit was established in 2017 in memory of Dr. Phillip M. Summers, a former VU President and an innovative educator. This event is a testament to the College of Social Science, Performing Arts, and Communication’s commitment to continuous learning, professional development, and the collective pursuit of excellence in education. It provided a valuable opportunity for educators to connect, inspire one another, and contribute to the ongoing improvement of the educational landscape.

LeDune said, “It's important for our local institutions of higher education to be at the forefront of educational change. This conference emphasizes the value that Vincennes University places on educational practices that prepare students to be positive contributors to our society.”

See more photos from the 2023 Innovative Teaching Summit:

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