Teacher Education Programs
Introduction and Objective
Since 1957 we have worked diligently to ensure a holistic approach to brain health and emotional wellbeing for CPS students. To further our objective we have added classes for teachers where they will study: "Effective Measures for Building a Student-Centered Safe Environment", "Steps to Garnering Parental Support", "Effects of Increasing Technology use to Yield Higher Achievement", "Inspiring Good Behavior through Your Leadership." After all we believe that teacher quality and achievement are the bricks and mortar from which our future will be built, and our educators are the master masons charged with the task. Our goal is to equip teachers with knowledge that they can use immediately improve self-esteem, school involvement, and pride which are all keys to promoting mental health amongst students.
The Needs of our Low-Income Students
It is estimated that over 87% of CPS students come from low income families, of those 21% of children are suffering from some form of mental illness. These students must have equal access to all resources such as well-trained teachers, social workers, and school psychologists in order to overcome unique challenges that they face. According to the Consortium of School Research, "Enhancing teacher knowledge and skills is arguably the single most important initiative schools can undertake to improve student learning. " Unfortunately many financially strapped schools overlook this fact and are subsequently plagued by low teacher retention. This leads to poor-quality classroom instruction which is especially damaging to low income students who begin school significantly behind others. (Developmental Science, March, 2014) With budgets ever shrinking, improvements must be swift. By improving teacher quality, the school will reap additional benefits that go hand in hand with gains in retention, that include lowering turnover costs which are estimated at $18,000 per exiting teacher to the tune of $86,000,000 annually. (National Commission on Teaching and America's Future; www.nctaf.org
Research shows that the keys of solid teaching are: differentiation of teaching methods according to student needs, incorporation of technology into everyday class time and the development of clear expectations for student internet use in coursework, attainment of active parental involvement, and the enforcement of clear guidelines for classroom behavior and disciplinary matters. Thus, our program consists of five customizable training modules: Brain-Based Learning; 6-10 one hour sessions, Integrating Arts and Technology; 2-4 one hour sessions, 1 hour lab, Research-Based Strategies; 2-4 one hour sessions, Teacher Leadership; 2-5 one hour sessions, and Classroom Management; 4-8 one hour sessions.
Our Brain-Based Learning training is designed to review and then expand upon previous knowledge of the balanced learning approach, which takes the best ideas from established theories, incorporates hemispheric preferences, and uncovers gender differences in learning. It offers teachers the know-how to tailor instruction to help each child based on where they are in terms of learning style and aptitude.
We focus on the concept of Learning Modalities, which are the sensory channels or pathways through which individuals give, perceive, and retain information. These modalities include: visual, auditory, tactile/kinesthetic, smell, and taste.
- Statistically, research has found that:
- 25-30% of students are visual learners
- 25-30% of students are auditory learners
- 15% of students are tactile/kinesthetic learners
- 25-30% of students learn from mixed modalities
These findings prove that each student's brain chemistry and the manner which they process information is unique. While up to 30% of the students will remember most of what is spoken in a classroom lecture, another 30% will remember primarily what is they have seen. Participants leave with the skills and knowledge necessary to engage students and improve the quality of their instruction through adapting their curriculum to address these differences. The gains in student achievement that result will foster higher teacher retention rates; keeping our best teachers in schools where they have the greatest impact.
Collaboratively they also review the original Bloom's Taxonomy and then explore the newly revised edition to build on their existing knowledge base. We also cover the following approaches: Behaviorist, Cognitivist, and Constructionist. Included is a study of Gardner's Theory of Multiple intelligences: Linguistic, Logical mathematical, Spatial, Kinesthetic, Musical, Interpersonal, and Intrapersonal. These approaches also help teachers to meet student where they are in terms of academic progress, motivation, and learning style to be more effective in the classroom.
Arts and Technology in the Classroom
Recent surveys found that 80% of students report that using online resources in better or equal to textbook learning and 82% remember information better than or equal to textbook learning. Yet, only 40-45% of teachers use it in classroom, while 70% of teachers use the internet for lesson planning and many believe that their school has a positive environment toward technology use. Teachers leave with solid ideas of how to use technology in the classroom and establish their expectations for use outside the classroom. Recent research illustrates that student internet use is not correlated to access but rather teacher expectations for use. We also provide tools that show the positive relationship between music, movement, and visual arts in class and how they can increase in literacy and motivation. For example, with Toondoo (cartoon creation tool) teachers illustrate concepts which are difficult to understand textually through cartoons and comics. It is important to use all available means to improve the atmosphere that students learn so that achievement statistics climb.
Teachers complete an in-depth study and glean the most useful information from various theories including: Marzano's Nine Strategies for Effective Teaching and Learning, Five E's of Inquiry-Based Learning, and the Cognitive Dimension Process. Marzano's Theory brings 9 important inputs that are critical to successful student learning. Including how generating and testing hypotheses can engross students in new ways and we expound upon using then Five 5's of Inquiry-based learning: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate. The CDP is a thorough system to aid teachers in teaching students how to understand, analyze, and apply new information. In combination these methods designed to increase critical thinking skills which are lacking in many students today.
Teacher Leadership and Classroom Management
Our training finishes with two of the most important issues facing educators everyday: Teacher leadership and Classroom management. We set out to empower teachers to be able to command the classroom, establish concise but flexible learning goals, clear behavioral standards, and develop relationships with their students which build a supportive environment conducive to learning. Teachers also learn to incorporate cultural differences in their approach to reach out to students to build relationships. Next we take a look at the importance of discipline in schools. Just as there are multiple ways to teach children there are also multiple disciplinary actions which can be tailors for maximum impact. The ASCD reports that dominance, defined as the teacher's ability to provide clear purpose and strong guidance regarding both academics and student behavior is necessary in the classroom. Furthermore, studies indicate that when asked about their preferences for teacher behavior, students typically express a desire for this type of teacher-student interaction. Attitude and aptitude have a direct impact on the life choices students will make, and we strive to reach the core of what causes many of the symptoms of mental health issues in these students. Through our goal to create a holistically supportive learning environment, provide healthy avenues for our students in middle and high school to achieve social emotional and mental wellbeing.
Achievement and belief in oneself is critical to confidence and mental wellbeing. Helping our teachers learn how the brain differs and to use that knowledge to engage all children is the best way to help our students' protect their mental health and improve their social emotional behavior is vital. Teachers walk away with exciting new tactics to use in development their leadership style and ways to remedy poor student behavior.