Commentary - UVEI - Upper Valley Educators Institute

  • Keys to Classroom Management

    New and seasoned teachers think a lot about classroom management. In order for students to be able to engage deeply with the curriculum, the classroom environment must be orderly; the atmosphere must feel business-like and productive, without being authoritarian. In a productive classroom, standards of conduct are clear to students; they know what they are permitted to do and what they can expect of their classmates. Even when their behavior is being corrected, students feel respected; their dignity is not undermined. Skilled teachers regard positive student behavior not as an end in itself, but as a prerequisite to high levels of engagement in content.

    The first step towards creating a classroom environment as described above, is to develop meaningful relationships with students. While this may seem obvious, teachers can forget the importance and power of good relationships when faced with challenging behavior.

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  • Learning by Doing

    When we ask participants why they choose UVEI, the top answer, consistently, is that they are attracted to “learning by doing.” Experiential learning has been at the heart of UVEI programs since our founding in 1969, and full immersion in practice, working together with colleagues and coaches, remains the core of our approach. As Laurie Greenberg, Assistant Principal at Mt. Abraham Union Middle/High School in Vermont and a graduate of the Principal Intern Program, put it, “You are expected to do the real work...” In other words, this is not a drill.

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  • Meagan Leddy and Ted Pogacar

    Learning From My Intern: A Mentor's Story

    When Meagan Leddy arrived at Oxbow High School in August, I was beginning my twenty-sixth year teaching English and had agreed to be her mentor teacher.  To appreciate this story, you’ve got to picture Meagan.  She is a diminutive Dartmouth grad with a sweet voice and a smiling face.   Her glasses are bigger than her head. She dresses unlike any millennial I had ever encountered.  Let's call her style "throwback schoolmarm cool." 

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  • Meagan Leddy and Ted Pogacar

    Learning From My Intern: A Mentor's Story Revisited

    When Meagan Leddy arrived at Oxbow High School in August, I was beginning my twenty-sixth year teaching English and had agreed to be her mentor teacher.  To appreciate this story, you’ve got to picture Meagan.  She is a diminutive Dartmouth grad with a sweet voice and a smiling face.   Her glasses are bigger than her head. She dresses unlike any millennial I had ever encountered.  Let's call her style "throwback schoolmarm cool." 

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  • Learning from the Finland Experience: Part I

    When I served as a high school principal, I was frequently asked by faculty members why standardized testing was necessary for our students when students in Finland did not participate in the same kind and frequency of testing and ranked among the highest in international standings. The question seems simple on the surface, but is actually quite complex.

    To build a context for thinking about the question of standardized testing differences in Finland and in the United States, I began with a review the evolution of Finland’s current educational system. It is clear that Finland’s educational journey has been a complicated process characterized by deliberate practice that continues today:  development of a problem of practice, research review, implementation of an intervention, review of the data, reflection, and adjust intervention(s). Repeat, repeat and repeat again for decades.

    Here is a brief historical view timeline of Finland’s process toward continuous improvement through educational reform:

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  • Lessons from the Co-Teaching Trenches

    This year, I have the pleasure to work closely with a dedicated group of teachers from the Fall Mountain Regional High School (FMRHS) as they begin their journey as co-teachers in their classrooms. General Education teachers co-teach with Special Education teachers in groups where identified and general education students learn together to meet the Common Core State Standards for in the subject area.

    It has been an amazing year that has been filled with challenges and successes for both students and teachers. Because I am in FMRHS coaching teachers at least twice a month, I have a bird’s eye view of the process of forming co-teaching teams. I’ve learned a number of lessons from this journey.

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  • Math Is Fun. No Kidding!

    Like many elementary educators, I entered teaching with little preparation or experience teaching math. My focus in grad school was on literacy education and that has remained my comfort zone ever since. This fall I wanted to tackle my area of weakness and joined Chris Ward in attending two math-focused workshops led by mathematics consultant This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., one of the developers of the Primary Number and Operation Assessment (PNOA). Loree’s work explores the parallels between how children construct an understanding of language and how they construct number sense. I spoke with Loree about her experiences with math and what advice she has for elementary teachers as they approach math in their classrooms.

    Becky Wipfler (BW): What drew you to math?

    Loree Silvas (LS): As an elementary school teacher, my initial focus was on literacy. I then became an informal math specialist and started helping with assessments. A few years ago, I received a four-year grant from UVM, which gave the gift of time to research with other math educators in the state.

    BW:  In your workshops you stress the importance of dedicating the same time and energy to math that has historically been dedicated to literacy. Why do you think there is often more of a focus on literacy than on math?

    LS:  Teachers of young children often get into teaching because they want to teach literacy. They tend to be math-phobic, uncomfortable with the subject themselves. They have math anxiety and tend to stick to methods and areas in which they are comfortable.

    BW: What is an important shift in teaching math that teachers should make?

    LS: Instead of teaching kids how to just get the answer, we need to allow the time for them to understand the concept. Kids need time to grapple with problems and problem solving.There needs to be systemic change and that takes time.

    BW:  What does an ideal elementary math classroom look like?

    LS:  Full of open-ended questions and exploration with lots of communication, filled with math conversations about multiple strategies. Kids should be encouraged to take ownership of their math learning.  We should use the techniques we use to teach literacy, such as the workshop model. Students could have math boxes, just like we do with book bins, to practice automaticity or fluency. There should be problem solving of bigger tasks, as well as math games. The teacher can work with small groups, as we do with guided reading. Parallel what we do in literacy. Kids need the encouragement to think of math as investigation, inquiry-based, like we do with science. As students explore or investigate big ideas, they prove what they know.

    BW:  What are your final words of wisdom to elementary math teachers?

    LS:  Talk less and listen more. Let students do the thinking. Learn from your students.

    Commentary by Becky Wipfler

    Becky Wipfler is UVEI’s Elementary Education Coordinator and a member of our Program Faculty.  

    Other commentaries by Becky, can be found at:
    http://uvei.edu/blog/322-school-district-partnerships-reinvigorate-teaching-practices
    http://uvei.edu/blog/318-project-based-learning-why-it-matters
    http://uvei.edu/blog/287-my-evolution-as-a-literacy-coach
    http://uvei.edu/blog/328-differentiation-how-and-why-it-works
    http://uvei.edu/blog/339-partnering-for-school-change

    You can follow her on Twitter @UVEIwipfler

     

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  • Most Likely to Succeed

    In November, I finally found the opportunity and time to view the acclaimed educational film Most Likely to Succeed.I was surrounded by education majors and a few education professors in a darkened amphitheater at a fairly traditional university -- although presently in the process of positive disruption -- that is searching for the answers on how students succeed. Discussion after the film was facilitated by then- Commissioner of Education, Dr. Virginia Barry.

    Watching the film brought to mind a quip a former colleague of mine made her personal mantra: “Education is endlessly fascinating.” This film certainly did not disappoint in the area of fascinating, but for me, I did not find the silver bullet to education in the 21st century. Instead, I found a source of additional questions to add to my ever-expanding list of questions I have about just what kind of educational experience is best for all students to be successful. What I walked away with is a reminder that education is complex and never as simple as presented by anyone in any medium.

    Greg Whitely, the producer of the film, creates a catalyst for the discussion, beginning with his educationally disenfranchised daughter’s experience during her fourth grade year. I believe Mr. Whitely’s thesis is that if educators would just facilitate the personalization of learning, students would increase their capacity for creativity and innovation, thus increasing engagement in learning. He makes no claims in the film about student outcomes. The film’s clear message is that public schools are not teaching what students need to know to be successful in the 21st century.

    The executive producer, Ted Dintersmith, eludes to a simple solution:  If content is readily available, then developing “critical skills” is the answer to the needs of the 21st century student and employee; specifically, collaboration, creativity, problem solving, analysis and communication. The film is also clear in its view that this is not the solution for all children and that parents, even those who choose to send their children to the film’s focus school, High Tech High in California, still question the limited focus on content over the significant focus on problem-based learning and critical skills. They are also concerned whether their children will do well on traditional measures (think SATs) in order to get into the college of their choice.

    I wonder if emphasizing Dintersmith’s critical skills over content will prepare our students for the future they face. By creating such a singular focus on his identified critical skills, perhaps another skill goes missing:  What knowledge, not information, does the student bring to the group that he or she is collaborating in?

    The parents’ perceptions on the lack of content appear to be based in deep levels of learning in one content area versus shallow levels of learning in many areas of content. Dithersmith would argue that having a degree or multiple degrees, does not necessarily mean competence and a pathway to success. It means they may have content knowledge only without the ability to analyze, synthesize and apply that knowledge. If statistics were the only measure of success, High Tech High students perform 10% above the state average and 98% of students get into college.

    The question I wonder about is how do we create an environment of innovation for our students? Tony Wagner (2015), an educational researcher and author of the book the film was based on, argues that “if we are to remain globally competitive in today’s world, we need to produce more than just a few entrepreneurs and innovators. We need to develop the creative and enterprising capacities of all our students” (p. 4). Dithersmith recognizes that there is not one approach for every student. Real education is messy and any attempt to standardize it through federal and state regulations will lead to a compliance-based mindset. Humans are complicated and making change in education is also complicated. A High Tech High teacher explains the process as one where “we need to grow, evolve, and change as a school and as people. The industrial model is about standardization. Education is much more like gardening than engineering. If you create the right conditions the thing grows itself.”

    It appears that if we continue on our present path of first order change by essentially keeping our schools the same, but making small tweaks in an attempt to improve student outcomes, our students will struggle to become the learners, innovators and leaders we need today and in the future. If we attempt to create second order change in education, it will be a complicated process. As Hyland and Wong (2013) make clear in their analysis of change, “It is futile…to change just one aspect of a national policy, institutional plan, classroom approach or beliefs of one group. Stakeholders need to ‘learn change’ together” (p. 3).

    In facilitating the conversation at the end of the film, Dr. Barry responded to a question about the barriers to innovation in schools with the following statement:  “We are removing policies that create barriers. Schools that are focused on performance and interdisciplinary systems are going to far exceed what and how we are assessing today. The survival of an institution will be based on its ability to show proof points that their graduates are able to succeed in the real world.”  She closed with the comment:  “We must change the conditions of learning.”  Well said, Dr. Barry, but we cannot mandate those conditions, nor can we mandate change. We have tried for decades with limited success.

    For me, one of the most thoughtful questions that came up in the film is what do we want to be held accountable to --  test scores or high quality work? If Dintersmith’s goal is to create a conversation, he certainly has most likely succeeded. Continuing the conversation, whether you agree with Dintersmith’s thesis or not, is our only hope to foster continuous improvement in education.

    Cited sources

    Hyland, K., & Wong, L. L. (2013). Innovation and change in English language education. Routledge.

    Wagner, T., & Compton, R. A. (2015). Creating innovators: The making of young people who will change the world. Simon and Schuster.

    Commentary by Nan Parsons

    Nan Parsons is UVEI's Associate Director for School Leadership and a member of the Program Faculty.  Nan's other commentaries can be fuond on the UVEI.edu website at:
    http://uvei.edu/blog/319-get-smart
    http://uvei.edu/blog/325-more-than-dollars-and-cents
    http://uvei.edu/blog/335-from-both-sides-of-the-table

     

     

     

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  • New Year's Resolutions: Plan With the End in Mind

    New Years is typically a time when people reflect on their lifestyle choices of the past year, and turn towards thoughts of reform. “I need to lose weight!” “I want to donate more money to charity this year,” or “It’s time to read those books I’ve told people I’ve read but really haven’t.” I’m just kidding about that last one. Really. I totally read The Fountainhead.

    For me, New Year’s marks the time I begin to review the literature on Understanding by Design (UbD), also known as backwards planning-- a way for teachers to think about unit design. We just wrapped up UbD week last Friday.  

    This year, however, I began to think about the possible connections between resolutions and backwards planning.

    UbD can be confusing and a little heavy on jargon (Essential Questions, Enduring Understandings), but the heart of backwards planning is really common sense: Plan with the end in mind. What can students do or know if they really understand? How will you, the teacher, really know that students “get it?”

    I think these questions might easily apply to New Year’s resolutions, and the tenants of UbD might help to achieve those nebulous resolutions.

    Let’s walk through an example. And let’s take one of the most popular (and most commonly broken) NYE resolutions: Lose weight and get fit.

    Understanding by Design dictates that we first envision the end result. In our example, to weigh less and be in better shape/health. Next, we might decide on the Essential Question and Enduring Understandings of the resolution. Essential questions are provocative, open-ended, and can be applied across lots of different topics.  

    For this example, here’s a proposed Essential Question: How do we feel good in the skin we’re in?

    This question in an Essential Question because it could be answered in different ways. People might feel good in the skin they’re in by spending more time with family. Or by mastering that craft they’ve only dabbled in for years. Or by learning to love their body just the way it is.

    But for some, the answer is to lose weight and get fit.

    UbD also asks that we think about the necessary skills and knowledge one would need to be able to demonstrate true understanding.

    This might be crucial to actually keeping that resolution. Do I need to learn more about meal planning and nutrition? Do I need to have a trainer help with with an exercise routine? Do I need to learn how to cook vegetables? Simply resolving to eat less or exercise more isn’t specific enough and may leave critical knowledge and skills off the table.

    Understanding by Design is a framework for increasing student achievement, but it might also increase resolution achievement. Here’s a basic template. Try plugging in a resolution. Let me know how it goes!

    Commentary by Kristen Downey

    Kristen is UVEI's Asssociate Director for Teacher Education.  You can follow her on Twitter @UVEIconnect.

     

     

     

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  • Observing a Balanced Literacy Program in Action

    On March 22, in lieu of our usual Tuesday seminar, seven interns with an endorsement in elementary education participated in a professional development day at Woodstock Elementary School (WES). The purpose of the visit was to observe, critique and understand the many components of a balanced literacy program. Aimee Toth, UVEI’s Associate Director of Elementary Education, was our guide.

    Aimee, who has also been leading professional education workshops for WES teachers, began with an overview of what we should expect from the day’s experience, and we reviewed the 5Ws (who?, what?, where?, when?, why?) that pertain to a balanced literacy program.  From there, our day of observation began. We watched a third grade literacy circle, guided reading in kindergarten, a small group book walk back in kindergarten, and a second grade read aloud and book shopping (students go to book buckets or book shelves and select five books (at their appropriate reading level) to read the following week.  We also watched expert teachers take running records to assess the reading levels of their students. It was especially nice to visit the classroom of a UVEI alumnus who is now teaching at WES

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  • Partnering for School Change

    How do we strive to lead schools in a good direction, from whatever starting point?  That is the central question of school change, and it’s a complicated one!  

     

    School change is cultural change.  It is challenging work; work, which includes the following elements (Tompkins, 2014):

    • Compelling, shared, positive vision

    • Supportive and distributed leadership

    • Goals focused on teaching and learning

    • Involvement of learners (teachers)

    • Cultivating professional community

    • Formal and informal training

    • Practice, coaching, and feedback

    • Models and exemplars

    • Aligned incentives

    • Sustained over time

    • Evaluation

    Although there is no one right way to go about fostering school change, district partnerships can be a vehicle for this work.

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  • Preparing Principals to Lead

    The value of the principal in a school has been examined closely and well-articulated over the past 50 years. During that time, there has been a  move, from defining the principal as manager -- the person focused on policies, procedures, and the day-to-day operation of a school -- to viewing the principal as the instructional leader, resulting in a positive impact on school improvement (Hallinger, 2011).

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  • Preparing Principals to Lead (2)

    The value of the principal in a school has been examined closely and well-articulated over the past 50 years. During that time, there has been a  move, from defining the principal as manager -- the person focused on policies, procedures, and the day-to-day operation of a school -- to viewing the principal as the instructional leader, resulting in a positive impact on school improvement (Hallinger, 2011).

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  • Project-Based Learning: Why it Matters

    Holland Elementary is a small K-6 school located in the heart of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. The five classroom teachers here serve forty-two students, so they get to know their kids well. After visiting the King Middle in Maine to see project based teaching practices and project-based learning in action, the Holland teachers began to implement the model in their school.  

    Project-based learning (PBL) allows students to work collaboratively in teams or independently to answer abstract questions and solve problems or design challenges that are authentic. An authentic unit is relevant to students’ lives, is realistic, or involves real-world tasks and processes. It meets a real need in the world beyond the classroom, or the products students create are used by real people. Inquiry is central in PBL classrooms. Project-based teaching involves carefully planned scaffolding (structure and modeling to help all students make progress towards the goal), coaching and assessment. Rather than content driving the curriculum, a project-based learning model is driven by student interest.

    Principal Kelli Dean, a UVEI Principal Intern Program alumni, shared her thoughts on why the North Country Supervisory Union, especially Holland Elementary, has taken on PBL as an approach to teaching and learning.

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  • Quit Your Job & Start a Teaching Career Without Fear

    You’ve always thought about teaching. You have a career right now that’s, well, fine, but teaching has always been in the back of your mind. The appeal of teaching is not hard to imagine: teaching makes a difference in kids’ lives. Sounds cliche? It’s not.  

    But it’s natural to worry about what such a career change can mean for you and your family. It can seem unrealistic or risky. If you want to quit your job to pursue teaching, but you’re afraid of the unknowns, here are a few pieces of advice.

    Acknowledge That Your Current Job Doesn’t Bring You Joy

    Although American workers are happier than they have been in years, many still struggle to find joy and meaning in work. It’s not uncommon to begin a career (or a second or third) and realize a few years later that it’s just not the kind of work that will sustain you over time. Although making a change can seem daunting and scary, the scarier choice is staying in a job that doesn’t bring you happiness.

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  • School/District Partnerships Reinvigorate Teaching Practices

    As a classroom teacher, one of my favorite pastimes was participating in professional development.  I visited other schools, attended workshops and took online courses.  I especially enjoyed workshops, since they were a chance to connect with professionals from all over the country.  The resources and excitement in those days, weeks or weekends were reinvigorating, especially in the middle of the New Hampshire winter. However after returning to my classroom, the afterglow soon wore off.  Although it was better to attend with a colleague (with whom I could bounce ideas off later), the lack of sustained focus and follow-up led to, more often than not, the materials and energy quickly fading from view.

    At UVEI, we approach professional education differently.  How is it different?  Through sustained coaching and inquiry cycles, educators immersed in their practice receive feedback and reflect with the help of a coach.  Cycles last several weeks, months or even a full year.  Instead of a “one and done” course, we spend time in each school to observe, model, debrief, plan and facilitate peer coaching and reflection.  We are currently partnering with several school districts, bringing coaching and inquiry cycles to a team or an entire school, where teachers and administrators engage in inquiries such as balanced literacy, differentiated instruction, and project based learning.

    One of our current partnerships is with Holland Elementary School, which is as close to the Canadian border as you can get without going through customs.  Each week, I make the drive north to work with the teachers and students at this tiny pre-K through sixth grade school.  Through weekly observations and coaching sessions, teachers aim to move their practice closer to “gold standard” project-based learning.  Principal Kelli Dean, a UVEI Principal Intern Program alum (and current UVEI Curriculum and Instruction candidate), helped bring our faculty into a district-wide partnership focused on project-based learning.  By the second meeting with teachers, I was already feeling new energy and momentum building as these educators brainstormed new units and approaches.  As we journey forward together, our shared goal is to reinvigorate teaching practices that are valuable and sustainable.  

    This photo of Kate Underwood and her K-1 class was taken by Becky at Holland Elementary School earlier this fall.

    Commentary by Becky Wipfler

    Becky Wipfler is UVEI’s Elementary Education Coordinator and a member of the faculty.  You can follow her on Twitter @bmwipfler. Other commentaries by Becky can be found at http://uvei.edu/blog/318-project-based-learning-why-it-matters and http://uvei.edu/blog/287-my-evolution-as-a-literacy-coach

     

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  • Schools Need to Grow Their Own Coaches

     

    Commentary published in the Valley News on April 26, 2016:  With the passing of the new Every Student Succeeds Act, there has been much discussion about the end of the No Child Left Behind era and the shifting of policy prerogatives back towards state and local decision makers. This gives us the opportunity to ask ourselves a fundamental question anew: What might lead to the schools we hope for and want? In many ways, traditional arguments about the right state or national policy levers for improving schools fail to answer this question satisfactorily. State-driven accountability and top-down mandates have not (and are not likely to) lead to better schools for kids. In fact, a growing body of evidence indicates that while policies may aid or hinder improvement efforts, they are not the main event at all.

    It turns out that in the complex world of teaching and learning, school improvement is the result of building the capacity, skills, and judgement of teachers through ongoing and deliberate practice at the school level (to many of us working in schools, this is not exactly a shock). Improvement efforts that start with and are steered by the people in the building simultaneously respect the professionalism of teachers, and depend on it. Teachers, and particularly teacher leaders, are the key to success.

    One form of teacher leadership that is particularly promising is coaching. Many people think of coaching in terms of sports, and intuitively understand coaches importance for improvement. Outside of the realm of sports, coaching is usually understood as job-embedded support that aids in deliberate practice; providing suggestions and feedback for improvement. Drawing on his experience in the medical field, author and surgeon Atul Gawande has persuasively argued that “coaching done well may be the most effective intervention designed for human performance.” Many local educators agree, and apply this idea to teaching. Jeff Moreno, principal at Hartland Elementary School, views teacher leadership generally, and coaching specifically, as an important strategy for achieving his school’s goals. Following an extensive period of planning based on careful analysis of school data, Hartland Elementary has developed focused goals in the areas of math, literacy and positive student behavior. Jeff indicated that “creating the position and identifying coaches is a critical strategy for all three goals. Coaches are key to fostering the discussion of ‘how can I get better’ or ‘how can I reach more kids?’” Jeff went on to say that having coaches drawn from the ranks of the effective and respected teachers at his school “provides a safe framework for these important reflective conversations to happen.” Carefully selected coaches, particularly coaches who continue to teach, are able to “use what they are learning in their own classes, and that can serve as a lab setting” for testing new approaches and providing examples for other teachers to study. Coaches’ grounding in the real, local work and culture of the school also, as Jeff put it, “provides credibility for the teacher with whom the coach is working.”

    The good news is that many of our schools are already full of coaches or potential coaches (sometimes with that title, and other times in the form of mentors, department chairs, professional development coordinators, grade level leads, subject matter experts, and more). The challenge is that many people in coaching roles have little training or support. Being an effective teacher does not guarantee that someone will be an effective coach. To be good, coaches must match their knowledge of classroom teaching and subject matter with the skills required to be an adult educator. The Hartland effort, in Jeff’s view, requires at least a five year commitment, in part because “coaches need to develop into their role over time.”  Becky Wipfler, a reading specialist and literacy coordinator at Hanover’s Richmond Middle School, whose role includes literacy coaching, echoed this sentiment. “Coaching teachers is a complex undertaking which I hesitated to jump into until I more fully understood the many facets of coaching.” Skills like carefully observing instruction, questioning and listening techniques, and relationship building are particularly important. Coaches need to learn these skills through training, practice, and feedback. In other words, coaches need coaching. Specialized training  in these areas, including opportunities to practice and get feedback, helped Becky feel more comfortable working with colleagues to improve their teaching practice.

    Identifying and developing teacher leaders as coaches is a good investment, positively impacting teachers and their students. Amy Arnold, a second year teacher at Bradford Elementary School who received coaching as part of a district wide literacy initiative, said, “When you first start teaching, it's kind of like feeling your way through a darkened hallway. You bump into things, and you are never quite sure you're actually going in the right direction. Having a coach is like having a flashlight. Coaches come into your room and observe and model, reaffirming or correcting your teaching strategies. Not only does it benefit student learning by making you a more effective educator, it helps you feel more confident in what you are doing. I also think it is great for students to see that teachers are always learning, too. When your coach comes into the room, you take on a dual role: teacher and student- and the kids are fascinated by that. It really sends a message of lifelong learning.”

    The solution to developing our schools lies in investing in the people on whom effective schooling depends. Policy should be directed at supporting and developing teachers as learners and leaders at the local level.

    By R Page Tompkins, EdD

    Page is UVEI's Executive Director.  For more information about Page, see:  http://uvei.edu/about-uvei/staff-and-faculty?id=294

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  • Seek First to Understand

    I was fortunate to visit the opening days of school for two 2017 UVEI Principal Intern Program graduates last week. These schools are quite different: one a middle/high school and one a small rural elementary school. Demographics aside, I was struck by the feeling of hope coming from the administrators, teachers and students. I stood near to Laurie Greenberg, now the assistant principal at Mt. Abraham, as she and her colleagues greeted incoming seventh graders for their first day of orientation. The energy from all parties was palpable. The start of the new school year is the start of a new chapter where you can, as an educator and as a student, take what you learned last year and build on it. In a sense, you have the opportunity to become a better you just from the opportunity that a clearly delineated beginning and end of a school year offers.

    In spending time with Laurie, I reflected on her ability to connect with her colleagues and students and her practices to cultivate these relationships. Her goals for the year are to focus on building trust by deliberately creating opportunities to know and understand those she will be working with. Here are a few of the ways Laurie plans to make meaningful connections this school year:

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  • Synchronicity

    As I prepare to embark on my new journey from being a math teacher at Williamstown Middle High School in Vermont to become the principal of Barre City Elementary School in Vermont, there are times when I ask myself, “What am I getting myself into?” Those thoughts are usually pushed out of the way when I think about the knowledge and skills I have developed during my yearlong internship (learning on the job) and in seminars at UVEI.  

    Reflecting on my UVEI Principal Intern Program experience, the outstanding value has been the synchronicity between the seminars and the real-life experience of leading at Williamstown.  While I admit that it’s been a full year, the interweaving of the seminars with the internship has made all the hard work worthwhile.

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  • The Adventure of a Teacher Intern

    If you are thinking about becoming a teacher there must be something special inside of you that desires to share, inspire, give and empower.  You must be wondering how you can make a difference in a community, in the life of a youth or see discover more about yourself.  If this holds true, then becoming a teacher, an educator, an advisor and a role model, is the path for you.

    Whether you are naive about the challenges of teaching or are nervous and overwhelmed, the Upper Valley Educators Institute will be there to guide and support your journey.  Along the way you will be tested by rigorous academic performance, challenged by teaching in the classroom and overwhelmed when learning with your cohort.  By the end, however, you will emerge with a teaching identity of your own that is harnessed by a preparedness to go out into the world and not only be the teacher you envisioned yourself to be, but have the necessary toolkit to do so.    

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