On November 1st I attended the Promising Practices Event, but unfortunately I was only able to stay for one session. Even though I was only at the event for a short time, I still was able to take in a lot of information and learn. The workshop I went to was called ‘Making It Personal’. When signing up for the different sessions, I chose this one because I predicted that it would be about individualized learning in the classroom, which is very important. There were two presenters for this session. The first one was Buddy Comet. He is the Dean of Pedagogy on the administrative team at Central Falls High School. Buddy is a National Board Certified teacher, a New Teacher Center presenter, and an educational coach accelerating the effectiveness of teachers and administrators through professional coaching. He is dedicated to building high quality teaching and learning communities. Buddy began with an introduction to the activities we would be completing. He spoke about individualized learning and one-to-one learning and how it is becoming popular. There is currently a study going on where an entire class is comprised of students with IEPs. These students will go to every class together that has teachers as well as teacher assistants. After his introduction to individualized learning, Buddy Comet explained our next task. The group, which was rather large, would stop at each station around the room and complete the work in five minutes or less. The instructor asked us questions like, “How do the activities balance individual autonomy and collaborative work?” and “What needs to be in place for students to be successful?” The first station my group went to was called ‘Cubing for Slope’. The instructions were to roll the dice to get coordinates for your slope and then calculate the slope. The group worked together to find the correct answer. The next station my group moved to consisted of matching tables and graphs. One example was “Tom left his home for a run, but he was unfit and gradually came to a stop. Match a time graph and table of data to the interpretation.” This activity works to help students who struggle to understand rise over run. Unfortunately there was limited time so each group was only able to complete two stations. Buddy then began to discuss the purpose of the activities in depth. The group discussed how students would need prior knowledge and precise directions to complete each station. He suggested that teachers be up front and let the students know that it is okay to not be finished and that they can move on if the work is not fully completed. The stations Buddy set up combined students of different abilities to work together. He also noted that getting up every 10 to 20 minutes to move to a different station is a positive aspect.
The next presenter was Karen Oliveira. She works in the School of Social Work here at Rhode Island College. Her lecture was directed towards Social Work Internships. Karen informed the group about what her position at the College is and informed us about how we can involve ourselves in an internship. The social work internship would consist of classroom observation, behavioral planning, and implementation. It provides one on one support and counseling as well as group facilitation. Those who work in the social work field would develop IEP goals and participate in team meetings. Karen explained how the social work internships were going at Central Falls High School. At that high school, educators are implementing social-emotional learning with the students. She noted that trauma, poverty and stress impacts children’s learning. Current teachers were in the workshop and shared their personal stories about what are affecting students in their classrooms, which was very interesting.
Through each of these workshops, I learned a great deal about different elements of teaching. I learned about personalized learning, which I knew little about before attending Promising Practices. I also got to learn about social work internships and social emotional learning. It was also great to hear real stories from current teachers. I saw the teachings of Delpit when Buddy Comet explained that students need precise directions to complete each station.