Texas Regional Collaboratives’ (TRC) 22nd Annual Meeting in Austin June 21-23 was educational, enlightening, and exciting for the more than 600 participants. Beyond the expert speakers, informative sessions, and networking opportunities, the spirit of the combined Collaboratives built to a crescendo at the closing luncheon. Like any good pep rally, the TRC 22nd Annual Meeting ended with the crowd, led by Galveston County Regional Science Collaborative’s own Dazzling Divas of STEM, chanting, “We are the TRC!”
Each year the TRC Annual Meeting brings teachers representing each of the Regional Collaboratives from across Texas to Austin for three days of intensive professional development, networking, celebration, and recognition. This year was no exception, with the TRC beginning and ending the three day event by recognizing those Collaborative members whose hard work and dedication to STEM education have made them inspirations to their fellow educators and examples of the TRC’s values of excellence and service.
During the opening luncheon on Tuesday, June 21, Six teachers were awarded 2016 Excellence Awards. Three teachers received Teaching Excellence Awards in recognition for their work in the classroom and three received Mentoring Excellence Awards for their dedication to mentoring and supporting their fellow teachers. Excellence Award recipients are all nominated by their Regional Collaborative Project Directors, who also submit letters of recommendation from each nominee’s principal and fellow teachers. This year’s Excellence Awards were sponsored by the TRC’s parent organization, the Center for STEM Education, along with corporate and foundational partners, Shell and the Cynthia & George Mitchell Foundation.
TRC 2016 Excellence Awards
Mentoring Excellence Awards
- Linda Borchardt
- Peggy Hand
Teaching Excellence Awards
- Debbie Herrera
- Cindy Hopkins
- Shanya Kennison
- Diana Kohring
Project Directors, who are responsible for the management of each of the TRC’s 67 Regional Collaboratives, were recognized with the Nita Beth Camp Legacy Award during the closing luncheon on Thursday, June 23. Nita Beth Camp (1940-2007) was the founding Project Director of the Region 7 Science Collaborative in Kilgore, Texas and her tireless dedication to the teachers and students of Region 7 has served as an inspiration to the entire TRC family. Two project directors, one from a Science Collaborative and one from a Mathematics Collaborative, received the 2016 Project Director Award given in Nita Beth’s honor.
TRC 2016 Nita Beth Camp Legacy Awards
- Pamela Yosko – Region 3 Mathematics Collaborative
- Cheryl Allison – Region 8 Science Collaborative
Forming the core of the 22nd Annual Meeting were the over 80 breakout sessions (view session descriptions via Sched), which covered a range of math and science topics across all grade-levels. In addition, this year sessions on computational thinking (CT) and computer science (CS) were added as these skills have become indispensable for future STEM careers. These sessions–presented mostly by TRC teachers–included not only content and curriculum, but also hands on activities and materials teachers could take back to their own classrooms.
Along with breakout sessions, educators were provided with opportunities to network and share ideas with fellow teachers from outside their region and across the state. The most notable of these was the Annual Meeting Showcase, an annual event where each Regional Collaborative sets up a booth to show off their group’s activities of the past year and teach a STEM-focused lesson based on the year’s theme. Teachers and VIPs alike are encouraged to visit all booths, interact, and then vote for the most creative and educational. While never difficult to get TRC teachers to interact with each other, the Showcase added an element of fun and friendly competition to the Annual Meeting.
TRC 22nd Annual Meeting Showcase Awards
Mathematics Showcase Award
- ESC Region 1 Mathematics Collaborative
Science Showcase Award
- ESC Region 1 Science Collaborative
- Galveston County Regional Science Collaborative (UTMB)
Combined Math-Science Showcase Award
- ESC Region 6 Math and Science Collaboratives
- ESC Region 7 Math and Science Collaboratives
The TRC and it’s supporters celebrated the hard work and achievements of the Regional Collaboratives and their teachers at a the Annual Meeting Dinner, which followed the Showcase. Dinner speakers included Texas State Representative Jason Isaac of District 45 and Peggy Schwinn, the new deputy commissioner of academics at the Texas Education Agency. Both speakers expressed their support for STEM education while praising TRC participants for their dedication and passion for teaching tomorrow’s technology leaders today.
Besides professional development, networking, and awards ceremonies, TRC 22nd Annual Meeting attendees were also treated to three highly regarded General Session speakers, a free documentary screening at a local cinema, and even a STEM-focused, mini-trade show–the Annual Meeting Vendor Fair.
General Session speakers at the annual meeting ranged from a STEM education researcher to a scientist out in the field, to a storyteller who shared, in character, how historical figures might tell the stories of their own successes and failures.
Michael Young, associate director – environmental systems, Bureau of Economic Geology, The University of Texas at Austin spoke about his own field experiences in his career as a geoscientist. Storyteller and Author Brian “Fox” Ellis theorized how scientist Gregor Mendel would have taught the heredity and genetics fields he is renowned for by donning a costume and speaking as the scientist–complete with accent. Ellis also mimicked Abraham Lincoln and stressed that each of the important figures he portrayed failed many times in their endeavors before they became successful as history records them. Philip Uri Treisman, executive director of The Charles A. Dana Center, and Professor of Mathematics and Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin, discussed how learning mindset impacts STEM instruction and how to take it to the next level. He also described highlights of the relevant theory, its implications for instruction and equity, and the continuing need for ethical guidelines when using psychological interventions in education.
During a screening of the documentary Beyond Measure, attendees learned about moving beyond timeworn indicators of educational success to make room for more curiosity, engagement, creativity, collaboration and independent thinking for classroom students. During a Q&A which followed the film, Director Vicki Abeles, expressed support for putting new, innovative pedagogical models into practice to inspire changes in how and what we teach.
Another networking opportunity came in the form of the Vendor Fair, where representatives of companies offering STEM-related educational products and services are available to demonstrate, discuss, and answer the questions of attendees in a relaxed, reception atmosphere.
Even after three days packed with professional development and other activities, attendees were still energetic enough to declare themselves part of the “mighty, mighty TRC” before saying their goodbyes to colleagues from around the state, many of whom they won’t see again until next year’s Annual Meeting.
- TRC 22nd Annual Meeting
- TRC 2016 Excellence Award Winners
- TRC 2016 Nita Beth Camp Legacy Award Winners
- TRC 22nd Annual Meeting Showcase and Awards
- TRC 22nd Annual Meeting Schedule
- Center for STEM Education