School = Life!
Kristilyn Oda, Holomua Elementary School teacher
We look forward to expanding the emphasis on social-emotional learning statewide. There is an urgency to make intentional decisions as we hone these vital competencies in our students. As community leaders and parents spark ideas to support our schools, write on your heart the exponential impact of an educator on each child. Never underestimate the opportunity and purpose of making a positive difference in the lives of students. It can change the world.
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Build Teacher-to-Teacher Relationships to Increase Student Success
Lorna Baniaga-Lee, James Campbell High School teacher
We teach in isolation. Our classroom is our world. We have the power to create the environment and space that we want. In doing this, though, we begin building walls from others as well. It is easy to engulf ourselves in our lesson plans, assignments, and our students’ lives. We may not do it intentionally but when faced with prioritizing our time, we will put connecting with other teachers last on our list. While that may seem effective because we think we are focusing all of our energies within this world we created, it can get lonely and can lead to complacency.
Such complacency can lead to ineffective teaching. Creating and being part of a professional learning network, or PLN, is a crucial piece for both students and teacher to thrive. We need to surround ourselves with others who will be that sounding board, who will be that resident expert, who will be our cheerleader and most of all who will be a friend. [READ FULL POST]
Deliberate School Design that Fosters Teacher Collaboration
Erin Mendelson, former Wheeler Middle School teacher, Central District curriculum coach
Our data teams developed organically from a desire from teachers to meet on a regular basis to increase teacher accountability and rigor in all classrooms. The master schedule and design of teacher lines were reconfigured to allow shared planning times during the school day. The role of a coach received some pushback as teachers questioned the need for an entire teaching line designated to mentoring and overseeing the design of a shared curriculum. For me, once I began to feel some of my extraneous work responsibilities turn to shared responsibilities, I felt invested and appreciative of the teacher leaders who were facilitating the process. With a pacing guide, we planned out weeks ahead, previewed assessments, and distributed the workload.
This level of collaboration required the investment of time and an equal measure of responsibility. There were heated debates, disagreements and some covert planning. The coaches needed to mitigate, blend ideas and encourage compromise. When passionate teachers deliberate over a particular test question for the unit assessment, the students really do benefit. Soon a healthy dynamic was established in which we depended on each other and trusted the criticism as constructive.
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