OSDE’s EngageOK on the Road summer education conference draws 7,000, breaks attendance records

OKLAHOMA CITY (July 25, 2017) – The Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) recently concluded EngageOK on the Road, and attendees are giving the summer conference an A+. 

tweetsThe one-day conferences took place July 10-20 at Yukon High School, Union High School in Tulsa, Enid High School, Weatherford High School, Durant High School, Ada High School and the Cache 5th and 6th Grade Center. EngageOK on the Road provided more than 100 sessions of professional development at no cost to educators. Total attendance was more than 7,000, surpassing last year’s figures by more than a thousand.

A new session this year, What Students Wish Their Teachers Knew, was among the most popular. Led by a panel of local students, the session exceeded capacity at most sites, leaving overflow crowds standing, sitting on the floor or watching the livestream from another room. Panelists discussed a number of topics, including what makes an effective teacher, advice for a first-year teacher and how critical it is for teachers to know, understand and care about their students.

student panel 3

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister moderated the panel.

“It did not come as a surprise to me that the student panel was among the most well attended at EngageOK,” said Hofmeister. “Educators are always looking for ways to better connect with students, and there’s no better way than to hear directly from them. Beyond practical tips and insights, the student panels emphasized the impact on learning when their teachers took the time to build relationships with them and a culture of trust and respect in the classroom.” 

Other popular sessions covered topics like the Reading Sufficiency Act (RSA); Oklahoma’s new assessment and accountability systems; Individualized Career Academic Plans (ICAPs), which will be piloted in 26 districts in the 2017-18 school year; and working with traumatized and high-need students.

Attendees gave EngageOK on the Road high marks for usefulness and inspiration.

“I loved this conference because it was just one day and jam-packed with such helpful information,” said Mandi MacDonald, a teacher who attended the Ada conference. “I walked away with so many answers to so many questions I’ve had over the last few years. Now I’m ready to start this year with great new tools to implement.”

For the second year in a row, the agency was able to save hundreds of thousands of dollars and reach more educators by taking the conference to regional sites in lieu of what for years had been a more traditional, multi-day conference in downtown Oklahoma City. The 2015 conference in Oklahoma City drew about 4,000 attendees – about 3,000 below this year’s attendance.

“We know every education dollar is precious,” said Hofmeister, “and we know teachers and administrators need professional development and support. By bringing the conference closer to educators, we alleviated some of the financial burden so many districts have been dealing with in recent years.”

Attendance exceeded 2,300 at Tulsa Union, 1,300 at Yukon, 650 at Enid, nearly 600 at Weatherford, 700 at Durant, 750 at Ada and 580 at Cache. Of the attendees, 56 percent were teachers, another 44 percent school administrators.

“Union Public Schools was honored to host Superintendent Joy Hofmeister and the attendees of the EngageOK conference on July 11,” said Superintendent Kirt Hartzler. “It is so important that teachers and administrators have this exchange with the Oklahoma State Department of Education. We appreciate having the opportunity to showcase our district, as we take great pride in our staff, students and facilities at Union Public Schools.”

High-resolution pictures are available from each site: Yukon, Union, Enid, Weatherford, Durant, Ada, Cache.

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Last updated on July 25, 2017