College of Education professors bring smarts to D.C.

GCU's Dr. Michael McCabe snapped this shot of the White House before a special tour arranged via GCU connections.

By Mike Kilen
GCU News Bureau

Grand Canyon University College of Education professors have taken their show on the road this summer, sharing their vast knowledge at education conferences.

The College of Education leaders and their families toured the inside of the White House.

Few expected it would take them straight to the White House.

While presenting at the 2022 Educators Rising National Conference in Washington, D.C., in late June, professors and some family members got a special tour of the White House, thanks to a GCU connection.

GCU senior lighting technician Jason Botello’s brother, John, works there as a creative manager and offered a behind-the-scenes tour that had them in awe.

“It was so cool to see the people’s house and to know great – and average, like us – people from all over the world have gathered there for important events throughout history,” said COE assistant professor Dr. Paul Danuser. “John was so gracious with his time with us and said he could have easily spent four hours going into great detail about so much of the history of this beautiful building.”

They also received a bit of current history: a package of M&M’s with the signature of President Joe Biden that he gives to guests.

Dr. Thomas Christner, Online Full Time Faculty, said he was amazed at the history and traditions of the building and the details of each room. But the reason for his trip was also special to him. The conference for future educators gave him hope.

“It made me so happy to see so many students that are enthusiastic about education and being teachers,” he said.

It was Lopes Up at the Jefferson Monument for this GCU crew of (from left) Dr. Michael McCabe, Dr. Crystal McCabe, Dr. Thomas Christner and Dr. Paul Danuser.

Seven COE representatives attended the Educators Rising conference to judge student competitions and present to future educators. The Educators Rising organization integrates high school and college students and difference-makers and administrators in the education field. GCU was a sponsor for the student competitions.

"There’s a myth out there that teachers only work eight, nine months a year and spend their summer break leisurely, but the Educators Rising conference and our hard-working COE faculty are proof that teaching is a year-round sacrifice and the best teachers are always brushing up on their skills and learning more to better serve our students," said COE Dean Dr. Meredith Critchfield.

COE Faculty Chair Dr. Alicia Kozimor, instructional designer and adjunct faculty Elizabeth Lemster and COE professors Drs. Crystal and Michael McCabe also presented at the conference, which offered a chance to connect with future educators – and even make some GCU connections.

The group ran into the parents of alumna Kalie Chambers, who recently won an award as an outstanding teacher in her district.

Summer conference presentations also showcase the collaboration among online and ground faculty in COE as they travel and present across the country, said COE Assistant Dean Lindy Gaudiano.

Sharing M&M’s can lead to collaboration.

“Politics aside, having anything with the president’s signature is a pretty cool thing!” Danuser said. “The time we had to tour the White House is a special blessing and a day the 10 of us will never forget.”

Presentations from GCU at Educators Rising included several vital topics:

Danuser addresses a roomful of listeners.

“Leaving Your Drama Behind: The Successful Transition to College”

Danuser and Crystal McCabe say that heading to college can be one of the great experiences in young people’s lives. New adventures, friends, foods and living arrangements are part of the transition from high school to college. Unfortunately, more than one million students drop out of college every year, and nearly three out of every 10 freshmen drop out, leaving debt and unfulfilled dreams. Danuser and McCabe led a session that focused on social and emotional well-being to help students stay in college.

“The Multiverse of Educational Technology ... Boosting Engagement in your 'Marvel'ous Classroom”

Christner and Michael McCabe challenged educators to channel their inner superhero by “fighting” the villain of boredom, using the multiverse of educational technologies available to educators.

Christner presented on visual learning.

“Seeing Your Learning ... Teaching Visually to Reach Your Students”

Christner shared ways to engage students using visual teaching so they can see their learning. Participants were introduced to the idea of visual teaching through different educational technologies as a way for future teachers to engage learners in their first year in the classroom.

“Friend or Foe? Balancing Relationships, Teaching, and Authority”

Crystal and Michael McCabe asked teachers how they will maintain a balance between being liked and remaining in charge. Some may say, “Don’t smile until Christmas.” This myth and others of being a teacher were discussed along with strategies for establishing, maintaining and restoring relationships, building classroom community and maintaining authority in the classroom.

“Charismatic Teaching: Going from Yawn to Yes!”

Danuser said nobody enters the teaching profession determined to be the teacher whom no students love or relate to. With some, it happens. How can you learn to be that teacher who drives the love for learning in your students rather than being the teacher kids do everything they can to avoid? Danuser provided inspiration and tips for teacher candidates to learn to establish themselves as charismatic teachers who love what they get to do and love those they get to work with.

The McCabes talked about avoiding teacher burnout.

“Balance and Boundaries: How to Avoid Burnout in Your Teacher Preparation and Career”

Michael and Crystal McCabe said that after years of college and loads of money, no one wants to hear that there is a 50% chance they will not stay in their career. Sadly, this is the case in the education field. Educators can avoid burnout by having healthy boundaries and finding balance, the McCabes told participants.

“Science and Literacy: A Winning Solution!”

Kozimor and Lemster reviewed the best practices for integrating science instruction into literacy instruction. They shared how to choose the right text, teach vocabulary and incorporate reading skills and strategies into science instruction.

“Restoring Classroom Communities Through Restorative Practices”

Kozimor shared restorative practices − strategies to create a safe and inclusive classroom community that holds students to high expectations and fosters growth. Through restorative practices, students learn how to regulate their emotions and reflect on decisions and consequences, then are welcomed back into the classroom with respect and grace.

Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.

Related content:

GCU Today: With professor’s help, Mr. Hitch changed a school

GCU Today: COE leaders share value of teachers, books, friends

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