Illinois New Teacher Collaborative



2023 Breakout Sessions


Breakout Session A

9:30 - 10:30 AM


Classroom Management Strategies: Teaching Isn’t the Only Thing. It’s Everything!

Margery Scott, The SEED School of Miami


Participants will learn how to dramatically increase the amount of time they spend on instruction and decrease the amount of time they spend giving multiple warnings and repeated requests for misbehavior.  One of the greatest misconceptions in education is that students come to school knowing how to behave.  Learn how investing extra time in your students at the beginning of the year will increase the amount of time you have for instruction throughout the year.


Setting Students up for Success

Ashton Powell, IESE Regional Specialist: ROE #9

Successful classrooms thrive on routine and procedures that have been well thought out and embedded into daily learning. In classrooms that consistently provide structure and direction students academic and social emotional learning can thrive. This session will focus on building student relationships, establishing classroom routines and procedures, implementing behavior management, and creating a safe positive environment. Resources will be provided for teachers to utilize in the classroom.



        Boundaries: How to Set Limits to Keep Your Sanity!

Michele Koopman, Schuyler Industry School District

It's no secret that the work of a teacher is never done, but how do you set limits on your work so that you can have a balanced life? This session will cover the basics of what boundaries are, how to recognize when boundaries are absent, as well as ideas for how to creatively set and reenforce boundaries in different areas of your teaching responsibilities.



Developing and Using Your Teaching Prime Directive

Christopher Harrison,  Elverado School District

In this talk Christoper will do three things: 1) he will argue that teachers need a teaching prime directive to help guide their practice (and keep themselves performing optimally in hard times); 2) he will offer an example of his own current teaching prime directive and speak to how it both guides his practice, particularly within the Danielson framework, and offers him yet another metric by which he can evaluate his own performance; and 3) he will offer some general suggestions to those who want to begin crafting their own prime directive.



Instructional Strategies for 3rd-8th grade Mathematical Understanding

Aubrey Durkin, Specific Learning Disability Support Project

Teachers will learn about the five representations of mathematical ideas and explore best practices for integrating conceptual models with algorithms.  Attendees will gain access to resources that will help students create pictorial representations of math problems with various levels of complexity. Creating bar models and number lines, using conventional and unconventional manipulatives, and drawing out math scenarios will be explored.



         Everything You Wanted to Know about NGSS, but Haven't Asked


         Lauren Slanker, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Tara Flett, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Professional learning at the Museum of Science and Industry helps teachers effectively meet the NGSS. If you need support in understanding the basics of the NGSS, come and learn from those who have worked with and taught these standards in their own classrooms.


Autism: A Few Things to Know

Renata Serpico, Golden Apple Scholars IL


This session describes basics of Autism - breaks down stereotypes and gives a few strategies for K-1 teachers to use in their classrooms for children with Autism. I will share scientific definitions, classroom strategies, and visual supports that may benefit children with Autism. The takeaway from this presentation is to encourage inclusion and special education supports within the general education classroom.


Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History (TEAACH): Resources for Educators


         Sharon  Lee, Education Policy, Organization and Leadership, UIUC

         Taylor Masamitsu, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


In 2021, Illinois became the first state to mandate the inclusion of one curricular unit of Asian American history in public K-12 schools through the TEAACH Act. Presenters from the University of Illinois will provide an overview of the TEAACH Act, key concepts in teaching Asian American history, and online resources in this session



Breakout Session B

10:30 - 11:30 AM



Your Classroom or Their Playground

Iantha Ussin, Ms. Ussin Teaches, LLC


Teachers have the vital responsibility of setting order ON DAY ONE to ensure their classrooms will, in fact, be their classrooms and not their students’ playground. Most new teachers, however, don’t know what’s required to accomplish this. This session will provide teachers with the CRUCIAL first-week-of-school, step-by-step P.O.W.E.R. Teaching Tools—effective rituals and routines and classroom management "tricks"—that will set them up for the win! In addition to receiving practical demonstrations, teachers will have opportunities for get-up-and-move applications. Your Classroom or Their Playground will prepare teachers with tools for immediate implementation in their classrooms.



Compassion Fatigue: What It Is And How to Address It

Alexis L. Jones, Eastern Illinois University


We all know how much caring is involved in the teaching profession. While incredibly rewarding, this caring relationship can create stress on the part of the teacher. Teachers may become worn out, express less patience, or even experience physical symptoms. Learn more about why this occurs and how to address it when you see it coming.



Marigolds & Minute-Checks: WHAT IF I’d Learned This in College?

Darcey Hazlett M.ED., Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College



This session begins as all good teaching should - with a read-aloud & a craftivity! Participants will be reminded about the power of marigolds in companion gardening as well as teaching. Walk away with five ready-to-implement comprehension checkers that instantly increase student engagement and promote movement in your classroom. Easily adapted to any grade level and content area, these quick and easy minute-checks will prevent teachers from asking themselves, “What if I fail at this?”



NGSS? A Quick Overview of the Illinois Science Landscape

Bridina Lemmer, National Science Teaching Association 


In this session we'll look at current science teaching and learning practices along with where to find more information about science topics you need to know as a new science (or K-5) teacher. Topics covered are tailored to you, so bring your own questions about the Illinois Learning Standards for Science. This session is conducted by the Illinois Science Teaching Association, a non-profit organization of science teachers and educators across the state that have been implementing NGSS since their adoption in 2013.



5 Must-Have Best Practices for Beginning Middle School Teachers

Michelle Hill, Center for Teacher Effectiveness



Is this your first time teaching Middle School students? Are you looking for ways to jump-start your practice for the new school year? "5 Must-Have Best Practices for Beginning Middle School Teachers" provides pragmatic, real-life examples of successful tips and techniques that will empower new educators at the middle school grade levels to create a classroom culture that is student-centered, growth-oriented, and reflective.



Formative Assessment and Data Collection the Easy Way

Jennifer Houch, Illinois Elevating Special Educators Network (IESE)


Feeling overwhelmed on how to collect and  keep track of all the data???  We will discuss quick and easy ways to use formative assessments in your classroom as well as methods on how to collect data that will drive instruction, inform IEP goals, and improve the function of your classroom.


Project-Based Learning: Incorporating Multiple Modalities and Intelligences into Ordinary Curriculum

Kayla Dosset, Danville District 118


Humans learn in a variety of ways.  From infancy to adulthood, students benefit from multimodal and hands-on learning.  Project-based learning is highly effective in a world where needs are becoming more diverse and drastic within general education.  Using project-based learning, teachers are able to easily accommodate many needs, levels, and intelligences even if they do not have students with IEPs in their classroom.  With successful implementation, this can lead to less stress for educators, better collaboration amongst colleagues, and a better education for students.   This session is beneficial for teachers educating students anywhere from early childhood up to post-secondary education.



Unpacking Expectations: How New Teachers Should Approach the Danielson Model

Xavier Owens, Center for Urban Teacher Development


During this session, participants will be able to (PWBAT) reflect on their current practices as it relates to understanding and implementing Charlotte Danielson's Framework.  Participants will learn how to critically unpack the framework and build a toolkit to use to improve their practice.



Develop Responsive and Empathetic Teaching Practices through Human-Centered Design

Saadeddine Shehab, Siebel Center for Design

Our students bring a multitude of lived experiences and diverse cultural heritages with them into the classroom. In this workshop session, attendees will learn concrete practices to help them develop responsive and empathetic teaching practices by using a human-centered design (HCD) approach. Teachers will learn about practices to help them foster holistic, empathetic understandings of their students and develop instructional experiences that respond to their students’ interests, cultural heritages, and lived experiences by “teaching with HCD.”



Breakout Session C

2:15 - 3:15 pm




Effective Interdisciplinary Teaching with Core & Fine Arts Subjects

Angelisa Allen


Interdisciplinary teaching has become a jargon term implemented during state testing, but it’s an integral component of learning. Many new teachers fear encroaching on others' academic domain, collaborating outside of the normal grade/ content team, or interacting with the arts with no experience. This session will showcase examples and methods of interdisciplinary planning, collaboration, and implementation from the perspective of a Band/Choir Director. The tools gained in this session can make interdisciplinary collaboration and teaching less intimidating for a new teacher.


Mathivate…Be the Best Fraction of a Kid’s Day!!

Kim Thomas


M..A..T..H.. What does it spell?  Best subject ever!!  You will leave this session with mathtastic learning experiences to implement in your classroom.  Be ready to have an amathazing time participating with projects and activities that are personalized for kids!!  The common factor of classroom mathagement is keeping kids meaningfully engaged.  Participants will be introduced to mathlicious activities like Math Muscles, Fraction of Your Brain, Fracordiddles, and MEflection SymMEtry that put a positive parabola on everyone's face.  See you at the celemathbration!!



An Overview of the Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards

Maurice McDavid


The Illinois CRTL Standards were approved in February of 2021 and are an incredible way to reflect on your practice as an educator. This session will introduce you to all seven standards and provide time to collaboratively create a plan for implementation. Being a culturally responsive educator is a journey and this session will be a great way to start or boost that process.



Hope Floats: Staying Above Water in your First Year

Jennifer Barrientos


How do we “stay afloat” during our first year of teaching? This session focuses on the areas outside of instruction, which is often what keeps teachers in the classroom! We discuss why community is important, how to connect meaningfully with peers, mentors and other staff, what is burnout and how to combat it and other challenges with real information from first-year teachers doing the work!



Best Practices in an Early Childhood Classroom

Lori Pluchrat


Best practices are essential for having a successful school year. Implementing best practices might not always be easy. This session will emphasize the steps to take to ensure that the Brain-Targeted Teaching Model is implemented through a positive environment, self-reflection, social emotional learning, and student’s knowledge of skills. Strategies to use for students with challenging behaviors will also be addressed. These components will help educators grow personally, professionally, and allow for collaboration with colleagues. Join this session to learn more about how to be comfortable, confident, and ready for the school year!


How Illinois Teachers Distinguish Teacher Leadership from Teacher Professionalism

Jana Hunzicker


Today’s schools need teacher leaders, yet varying notions of teacher leadership create ambiguity. Without a clear conception of teacher leadership, teachers, administrators, and others may not recognize acts of teacher leadership when they occur. This presentation will report the findings of a statewide study conducted to better understand how Illinois teachers distinguish teacher leadership from simply teacher professionalism. As a result of attending the session, participants will gain deeper understanding of key differences between teacher leadership and teacher professionalism and develop clear ideas of several actions and characteristics commonly used to conceptualize teacher leadership.



Breakout Session D


11:00-12:00 PM





Kim Thomas



Turn UP the volume and meaning of social emotional journaling!!  SEL is all about kids!!  During JOURNUP time, kids control the conversation through open ended questions.  The class learns about each other and grows together.  Strengthen relationships with students daily as you implement the SEL competencies that spark great discussions and encourage kids to step out of their comfort zone.  There are eight impactful and fun components to each JOURNUP.  Time to JOURNUP!!


Curriculum and Grading for Beginner Music Ensembles

Eric Combs


Mapping out curriculum for beginner music ensembles can be a daunting task.  Likewise, developing a grading system that truly measures every student's mastery in a large ensemble setting can seem like an impossible task. In this breakout, Mr. Combs will lay out a very structured system of individualized instruction and grading that can be used in a large group setting.  Mr Combs' system is currently being used by hundreds of directors worldwide with great success. Participants will be given lots of free digital materials, including two of Eric's books.



Strengthening Executive Functioning Skills in the Classroom

Alyssa Smith


As we transition back to in-person learning, students are struggling with planning, focusing their attention, remembering instructions, and completing multi-step tasks successfully.  These are executive functioning skills that researchers are already studying the negative impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on our students.  This presentation will share strategies for teachers to use in the classroom that will help to strengthen and build student executive functioning skills.



Evidence-based practices (EBPs) and an EBP for writing, SRSD

Kate Connor

Amber B. Ray


One of the best ways to support student learning is to teach using evidence-based practices (EBP) with fidelity. This session will define EBPs and provide a brief overview of the What Works Clearinghouse website. 

Next, since beginning teachers may not always feel prepared to teach a complicated task such as writing, participants will learn about an EBP, self-regulated strategy development (SRSD) for informative writing that can be used in the elementary grades. Finally, participants will be guided towards additional resources that can be used to help them begin the implementation of SRSD instruction in their classrooms.



A Critical Conversation on Culturally Sustaining Learning and Teaching Practices

Edwin Monarrez


This critical conversation will allow everyone in the room to learn from and educate others on the journey we each take as we develop and sustain our cultural identity. Learning is both an individual and collective process that is most efficient when all stakeholders have a common purpose toward community growth. The presenter will facilitate an important and essential conversation that centers everyone and works toward progress that each participant can be proud of and motivated to continue.


"We have so much time on our hands, with so little work," said NO Teacher EVER!

Melinda Meithe



New teachers enter the classroom with excitement yet many challenges. This session will focus on how to overcome those challenges with time management skills.  As a teacher, you face high demands of rigorous curriculum, setting educational goals for students, tracking data, building relationships with students and co-teachers, communicating with parents, volunteering in afterschool programs, and so much more.  How can you manage to do all of these things in eight hour days?  In this session we will provide you with basic time management skills that will help you become successful in overcoming those challenges.