Athena High School teachers Lisa Gross and Kelly Davis have pushed themselves outside of their comfort zone in order to maximize student engagement and achievement. These teachers continue to impress others with the way that they can interact and connect with students of all ability levels. Although Mrs. Gross and Mrs. Davis have achieved great success with a variety of teaching methods, they have challenged themselves to increase the use of technology in their classrooms. Understanding that all students learn differently, they began using the Aleks computer program to differentiate and meet the needs of their wide range of learners in their Algebra/Geometry Connections.
Hagerty and Smith (2005) found that students who used Aleks showed significant improvement in algebra, both short-term and long-term. This program pre-assesses students to determine their present level of mathematical competency, finds their learning patterns, and helps students to build upon their knowledge base at their own pace. By using technology in the classroom, the goal is that all students will demonstrate higher achievement on class assessments and be able to discover and discuss mathematics more effectively.
Practical Strategy: Integrate computer software, such as Aleks, into your math instruction.
Reference: Hagerty, G., & Smith S. (2005). Using the web-based interactive software Aleks to enhance college algebra. Mathematics and Computer Education, 39(3), 183-194.
With the Athena Performing Arts Center (APAC) packed with excited and optimistic Greece Central School District teachers and administrators, Superintendent Barbara Deane-Williams introduced herself and delivered an appropriate and focused welcome speech. The reoccurring theme was “One Vision…One Team…One Greece.” She discussed that this year we would all take a journey together. This journey will be filled with challenges and fewer resources, which is a typical story presently in education. She stated that we are “preparing students for jobs that don’t exist for a world we cannot see.” However, she did suggest that if we meet students with the new “3 Rs,” we would likely be successful with kids. The 3 Rs (according to Daggett, founder and President of the International Center for Leadership in Education) are relationships, relevance, and rigor.
Practical Strategy: Use the 3 Rs. When we work with students, how much of a priority are Daggett’s three Rs? Are we building positive connections with kids? Are we connecting content to real world situations? Do we keep the standards high and challenge all students to reach their potential?
“Instructional coaching is basically advice and counsel designed too meet the needs of a specific teacher. On-site coaches work one-on-one with teachers to help them understand what data to collect, analyze, and use to improve instruction. Intensive collaboration and planning occur between coach and teacher before, during, and after a teacher’s lesson, to ensure high-quality instruction appropriate to meeting the needs of all the students. Coaches provide regular, ongoing professional development to a school’s entire faculty, which encourages staff members to become part of a community of learning and practice” (Eisenberg, 2010, p. 30).
What Coaching IS
- Observing teachers and providing feedback
- Co-teaching and co-planning with teachers
- Facilitating professional development
- Helping teachers find ways to use data to drive instruction
What Coaching IS NOT
- Acting as a teacher’s aide
- Evaluating teachers
- Working as a substitute teacher
References: Eisenberg, E. (2010). Personalizing professional development: Why instructional coaches make a difference. Education Week, 29(32), 30-31.