Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Kentucky teachers work together to implement standards

| by Suzetta Yates, Development Director |

On Saturday, December 5, I observed a teacher convening in Louisville organized by Student Achievement Partners. Student Achievement Partners is a nonprofit working to support teachers across the country in their efforts to realize the promise of academic standards focused on college and career readiness for all students. Their website is full of free content designed to help Math and English Language Arts (ELA) educators understand and implement college- and career-ready standards. The goal is to build teacher capacity by giving them tools to increase student achievement.

Jana Bryant, a Daviess County math instructional coach, is the captain of a group of 14 state-wide Kentucky teachers that have been trained on implementing standards here in Kentucky. Jana led a group to organize this convening to train even more teachers.  “The Kentucky Core Advocate convening offered teachers the opportunity to reflect on the necessary shifts needed within their own instructional practices that are essential to implementing the math and ELA standards. Teachers had time to learn about new resources and to collaborate with one another about strategies that are working within our classrooms. Conversations focused on how we must set the expectation high for EVERY student and use the time we have within our school day most effectively. We are honored that Student Achievement Partners selected Kentucky to support as we built a Core Advocate Leadership team who designed programming specific to the needs of students and teachers,” Bryant said. 

Sandra Alberti, Director of State and District Partnerships and Professional Development at Student Achievement Partners, welcomed the crowd of over 100 educators by saying, “Kentucky always ends up first”.

“The Standards first and foremost were designed to support teachers in their commitment to prepare students for opportunities after graduation.  It has always been the intent that teachers own this work – that they have the opportunity to build understanding, share that understanding with their colleagues, and support each other as they do the work with the students in their classrooms. My colleagues and I from Student Achievement Partners left Kentucky completely inspired by some amazing and incredibly committed educators.  I am confident that the educators and the students of the state stand to benefit from this network,” Alberti said.

Dr. Angela Gunter, a National Board Certified Teacher from Daviess County writes,I think the real power of the convening was the energy in the room. Spending two long days on a weekend digging deeply into theory and practice of knowledge building and acquisition could seem daunting, but the genuine dedication to improving practice and the spirit of collegiality among the Kentucky Core Catalysts made the time fly by. We had to make people leave their work groups to go to lunch and breaks. Teachers are thirsting for training that helps them improve their practice, and the Kentucky Core Advocate Text Set Project offers the training, the alignment, the relevance, and the ongoing collaboration designed to affect both teacher and student growth.”

Michelle Ruckdeschel, Heritage Park High School, writes, “it is quite a commitment to ask a teacher to give up their weekend to come together to have deep, meaningful conversations about mathematics and literacy, but the overall feeling in the room as the Catalysts left on Sunday was renewal and excitement to get back to their schools and districts to share the information that they had received. The conversations and sharing of practices and initiatives from all corners of the state were wonderful. The KY Mathematics Coherence Campaign allows the new Catalysts to educate others on the importance of understanding the connections of mathematical concepts across grades as well as within grades to allow students the best possible designed instruction our Kentucky teachers can offer.”

Spending time with this group of teachers was a privilege and the enthusiasm in the room was contagious. Kentucky students are in good hands.

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