SED Events

Engaged Learning: Are We All on the Same Page?

A spotlight  interview with Victoria Fedorets (VF) and Marietta Bradinova (MB)

Listen to the full interview here:


Below is a transcript of the interview:

Victoria Fedorets (VF): We would like to welcome our guest speaker, Dr. Marietta Bradinova for our Spotlight interview prior to her talk on October 5th, 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm.  Could you give us a brief preview of your talk?

Marietta Bradinova (MB): The title of my talk is going to be Engaged Learning: Are We All on the Same Page? To do that, I pulled from the literature on good teaching as well as the expertise of teachers in colleges and universities around the country. For my presentation, I had to create a compendium of useful, practical ideas that participants will find enhances the classroom experience for teachers and students alike. My goal is to pull it together into a single resource and present it in a format accessible to busy, discipline-oriented faculty. I hope it will also be useful to faculty developers, department chairs, and other academic administrators interested in promoting teaching and improving learning.

VF: Thank you so much, Dr. Bradinova. We all are very much looking forward to your talk. Could you please tell us a little about yourself, including how the topic of your talk is important to you.

MB: My name is Dr. Marietta Bradinova and I teach various courses in the MA in TESOL and Gen. Education Programs at VIU. I chose my field of scholarly endeavor because somewhere along the line I developed a passion for it. Part of the attraction of a career in academia is the opportunity to share our enthusiasm with others and possibly recruit new disciples to the discipline.  In my early years as a college teacher, “engaging students” wasn’t even on my radar screen. I lectured, they listened; they studied, I tested – and that was that.  However, it was very disheartening to look into a classroom and see disengaged students who make little effort to hide their apathy. So, keeping students involved, motivated, and actively learning is challenging for many of us as educators. Yet, there is no single piece of advice [to do this]. The primary purpose of my presentation is to offer my teaching colleagues, current and aspiring, a wide variety of tips, strategies, and techniques that can help them transform what could be a daunting task into one that is stimulating and rewarding.

VF: Wonderful. Thank you again for devotion to your field and I am more than sure you went through so many experiences and have gained so much knowledge and expertise to reach this far.

VF: Are there any tangible misconceptions out there about the topic of your talk?

MB: Well, for me and I strongly believe that teaching can be tough, and probably one of the toughest professions on earth, but by sharing, we help each other in the problem analysis and solution construction we struggle with, consciously or unconsciously, each time we enter the classroom and attempt to engage students in learning.

VF: What is your source of motivation? How do you keep yourself motivated?

MB: Well, for me, motivation is the portal to engagement. An unmotivated student has checked out emotionally and mentally from the learning process. Students who are motivated to learn, however, will actively seek the information and understandings that constitute engaged learning. Just as a classroom filled with students who are genuinely motivated to learn can be a teaching-nirvana, it can be teaching-hell trying to work with students who are apathetic, bored, or even hostile. Understanding the complexities that underline motivation can guide us in our efforts to set up conditions that enhance students’ eagerness to learn. This is a first and critical step toward increasing student engagement.

VF: If you had to give some advice to pre-service or in-service teachers about the topic of your talk, what would it be?

MB:  As I said earlier, I am trying to provide some practical ideas through various strategists [that] I’m going to model for them throughout my presentation. I strongly believe as an instructor we not only have to explain something about theory, but to show it in action. I would encourage the pre-service teachers to join us on October 5th to get more ideas about how we can engage students in our classrooms.

VF: In general, how do you design instructions so your classroom reflects success? What is success to you?

MB:  You know, from day one, when I go into the classroom, I provide lots of examples from my own personal experience and I have been teaching and in this field for 25 plus years. So, I always try to bring real-life examples into my lectures because when you provide examples, the students can relate to them through their personal experience. We always have great conversations because, as you know, VIU hosts students from around the globe. We are fortunate to share ideas with them and they share ideas with us and I’m growing myself professionally through this contacts with my students.

VF: Where do your students come from?

MB: In general, I would say probably between 15 and 20 different countries. You know, I work with students from Asia, from Latin America, from the Europe, from Eastern Europe, from former USSR, and they all amazing.

VF: In general, are there any principles that guide your own teaching philosophy? If so, what are they and do you have a groundstone for your own teaching philosophy?

MB: Well you know, as an instructor, I always try to share whatever I learned through all these years with my students, and as I said, I share my experience.  Whatever they read for my classes, we would have great discussions. I try to have classrooms in which the students work cooperatively using both small group discussions and whole group discussions. In a three hour long class, I have to break the time and have at least 10 to 12 activities for the students, and I try to engage them from the moment they enter the class until the moment they have to leave the class.

VF: Wonderful, so your classes are very dynamic and engaging.

MB: (And) they are student centered. I always try to be at the background, of course I’m the one who teaches them, will provide solid information to them either through my mini lectures and through the readings…but those discussions are to be led by the students. [The students] have to be the center of them actually.

VF: Are there any projects that you are currently working on?

MB: Actually, I’m working with Claire Gimble from ESL program on another presentation which is going to be at the WATESOL convention in October in Washington, DC. Our talk is going to be about using TED Talks in the ESL classrooms. We are working with Claire and different setups available on website to design different activities that ESL teachers can use with their students in the classrooms. So, that’s my next big project.

MB: And, of course, you know classes- I will be teaching for both on ground and online, so I will be very busy.

VF: Thank you very much for your time out of your busy schedule to share your experience and more than sure there is so much more to talk and I would spend hours and hours talking (with you) and learning from you. Unfortunately, our time is short thank you again for stopping by tonight by our podcast channel.

Please join us again October 10 at our location 4401 drive Fairfax, VA  22030 and the talk by Dr. Bradinova will be held from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm and the topic is, “Are We All on the Same Page? The presentation will offer college teachers a dynamic model for engaging students and will provide them with tips and strategies that have been proven to help teachers from a wide variety of disciplines motivate and connect with their students. Selected strategies will be modeled, in a ready-to-use format, through purpose, presentation, procedures, examples, online implementation, variations and extensions, and key resources. Faculty looking for ideas to heighten their student engagement in their courses will find useful techniques that can be adopted, adapted, extended, or modified.

Join us by going to our Facebook, like us; also, we are on twitter, word press, and we’re looking forward to our next spotlight interview by our next speaker sometime in September. Stay tuned and thank you again for your time today, Dr. Bradinova

MB: Thank you.


Announcing CLLC 2018!

The School of Education is excited to announce that preparations are underway for the Conference on Language, Learning, and Culture (CLLC) to be held April 6-7, 2018 at Virginia International University.


The theme for CLLC 2018 is Making Research Matter: Motivated inquiry for actionable insights.

Some important dates for CLLC 2018:

  • Abstract Submission: December 4, 2017
  • Notification of Acceptance: Week of January 8, 2018
  • Early Registration Ends: March 5, 2018
  • Regular Registration Ends: April 2, 2018
  • Late Registration: April 3-7, 2018
  • Proceedings Submission: July 9, 2018

Questions about the conference can be directed to Kevin Martin, Associate Dean of VIU’s School of Education, at To volunteer, please contact Rebecca Sachs at

We welcome your participation in CLLC 2018! Please mark your calendars, submit proposals, and make plans to attend.

CLLC 2017 was yet another year of success!

Thank you to everyone who participated and contributed to the success of CLLC 2017!

The 2017 conference focused on the professional identities, communities, beliefs, and practices of educators and how they can all be harnessed to enhance and advance the lifelong learning we recognize as the ideal meaning of the phrase “teacher education.” Our goal was to involve pre- and in-service teachers, teacher educators, administrators, researchers, and other professionals at all stages of their careers in a multidirectional sharing of expertise and experiences that would contribute to future exploratory practice and professional growth.

Photos are available here:

Be sure to check out our CLLC page for updates: CLLC 2018 information is coming soon!

Reimagining International Education: The Annual CLLC

On March 25-26, Virginia International University’s School of Education will host their annual Conference on Language, Learning, & Culture (CLLC).

CLLC aims to identify and facilitate dialogue focused on the three correlated areas of language, learning, and culture. While conference themes vary each year, 2016 will be dedicated to reimagining international education and how educators can shape the advances emerging from changing technologies.

Three plenary speakers will be addressing the conference in hopes of engaging dialogue that will reimagine educational access and communities and inspire curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment.

Front-running the conversation on leading change, Beverly Shaklee, EdD, will be discussing internationalizing teacher education across content domains. Shaklee is currently the director for the Center for International Education (CIE), and she most recently co-authored Internationalizing Teacher Education in the United States.

Brock Brady, currently a programming and training education specialist for the US Peace Corps and former president of the TESOL International Association, will talk about working across pedagogies in EFL environments. Specifically, he will address realistic expectations, goals, roles, and strategies for teaching and learning.

Lastly, Guilbert C. Hentschke, PhD, will lead a discussion regarding higher education in today’s global context. Hentschke is synchronously executive advisor, Parthenon-EY, and Stoops Dean and Cooper Chair Emeritus at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education. His research, advising, and writing focuses on issues of finance and governance of public, non-profit, and for-profit education organizations.

Across two days, CLLC will celebrate diversity of thought, practice, and research in regards to education organizations on Virginia International University’s main campus in Fairfax, Virginia. To register for the event, visit

For further information on the CLLC, please contact Kevin Martin at

If you are interested in volunteering at the conference, please visit our volunteers page at and contact Rebecca Sachs at

November VFF Speaker Daniel Ginsberg to Address Student Agency

Daniel Ginsberg with a talk on Promoting Student Agency Beyond Techniques and Best Practices.

We welcome you to join us at Virginia International University for our Voices from the Field speaker series!  To RSVP, please complete our simple form here:

Our guest speaker, Daniel Ginsberg, will be giving a talk titled “Promoting Student Agency Beyond Techniques and Best Practices.”

  • Date: Thursday, November 5, 2015
  • Time: 3:30pm-4:30 pm
  • Location: Village Drive Room 101, 4401 Village Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030

Active class participation helps students communicate and clarify their thinking, explore new ideas, and build classroom community, as well as supporting academic language development. Too often, however, students fixate on getting the right answer, leading them to speak up only hesitantly. When they do, they often provide minimal responses that give little sense of their thinking and offer little opportunity to engage in complex academic discourse. So, how can teachers encourage a genuine sharing of ideas?

Daniel Ginsberg explores this question by examining video recordings of a middle school mathematics class for English learners in which the teacher knows both mathematics and language pedagogy and uses commonly accepted best practices for content-language integrated instruction. Students participate willingly, but still defer to the teacher rather than discussing and advocating for their ideas. Ginsberg argues that, while technique does bring students to participate, we can only foster complex discussions by promoting student agency, which requires us to de-center our own authority to make space for student engagement.

Daniel Ginsberg is a PhD in Linguistics candidate at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.

To learn more about participating in Voices from the Field, please contact Kevin Martin (Director of the School of Education) at, follow us on social media @SEDatVIU and @TESOLVIU, or visit the School of Education’s website at!  For information on our upcoming sessions, click here.  Many of our previous sessions are recorded and made available through our website here.

Registration for the event is requested.

Dr. Jaime Lester to Address “Civility in Higher Education” at VFF Event

Virginia International University’s School of Education welcomes all to attend the October session of the Fall 2015 Voices from the Field (VFF) speaker series. This month’s guest speaker, Dr. Jaime Lester, an associate professor at George Mason University, will deliver a presentation titled “Fostering Civility in Higher Education.”

Thursday, October 1, 2015
3:30-4:30 PM
Village Drive Conference Room

4401 Village Drive
Fairfax, VA  22030

Jaime LesterDr. Lester maintains an active research agenda that examines: gender equity in higher education; retention and transfer of community college students; non-positional leadership; and organizational change. She has published articles in the Community College Journal of Research and PracticeCommunity College ReviewJournal of Higher EducationLiberal EducationNational Women’s Studies Association JournalReview of Higher Education, and NEA: Thought & Action. She serves on the editorial board of Community College Review. Dr. Lester has four books on gendered perspectives in community colleges, family-friendly policies in higher education, ways to restructure higher education to promote collaboration, and grassroots leadership and change in higher education. She is currently completing a book on workplace bullying in higher education.

This event is free and open to all VIU students, staff, and faculty, as well as members of the surrounding community.

To learn more about participating in VFF, please contact Mr. Kevin Martin at Follow us on social media @SEDatVIU and @TESOLVIU and visit the School of Education’s website at

Previous VFF event recordings can be found here.

Dr. Anne Horak to discuss “Jerry Maguire Effect” at VFF’s 2015 Launch

The School of Education welcomes all to join the first session of the Fall 2015 Voices from the Field (VFF) speaker series. Our guest speaker, Dr. Anne Horak, an assistant professor at George Mason University in Fairfax County, Virginia, will deliver a talk titled “You had me at PBL: The Jerry Maguire Effect on Student Achievement.”

Thursday, September 17, 2015
3:30 – 4:30 PM
Village Drive, Room 101

4401 Village Drive
Fairfax, VA  22030

Anne-HorakThe phenomenon called the “Jerry Maguire effect” is based on a study that found that we really do begin to form an impression of a person’s personality from the first word we hear them utter. What are the first impressions about instruction students are getting? What implications does this have for student achievement? What if the first words a teacher uttered about content were, “What’s going on here?” Would students be engaged? Would they achieve? Problem-based learning (PBL) begins with an ill-structured problem to capitalize on students’ curiosity from the very first moments of instruction to maximize their content acquisition and engagement. Hear how PBL can be used to produce increased achievement and satisfaction with the learning environment.

This is an excellent professional development opportunity for faculty and will touch upon topics and practices that are applicable to all educators. Please feel free to pass this opportunity along to others who may be interested!

To learn more about participating in Voices from the Field, please contact Kevin Martin, Associate Dean of the School of Education, at You may also follow us on social media @SEDatVIU and @TESOLVIU or visit the School of Education’s website at Many of our previous sessions are recorded and made available through our website here.

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