Darlington School: Teaching the Teacher: Skills for the Classroom & Beyond
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Teaching the Teacher: Skills for the Classroom & Beyond

Anna Yarborough | March 27, 2015 | 480 views

A teacher who has the acquired knowledge, new technologies, resources and college degree in hand cannot guarantee they are ready to accomplish the job needed in today’s classroom. The 21st Century has brought with it a new need to learn in different ways and with a different approach in the classroom. We as educators must keep up with the demands and needs in a global world and prepare our students to think and problem-solve in order to keep up with these needs.

No longer are the days of merely lecturing from the textbook and calling it a day. Educators today must have the skills and resources to help students learn critical thinking skills, analytical understanding and problem-solving. A teacher’s approach in the classroom is significant to student learning and student outcome.

According to the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, “Well prepared teachers produce higher student achievement.” 

In an effort to stay on top of 21st Century education, the Glenn Teaching and Learning Center has partnered with several of our Darlington teachers to help build a more effective classroom approach to benefit all of our students.

The teaching part of the Learning Center helps focus on lesson planning ideas, individual approaches in the classroom, and unit planning for the teacher. According to a study by Stanford University on the characteristics of effective teachers, highly effective teachers are organized and well prepared with daily lessons as well as course design, course goals and learning outcomes.  

Using Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins' "Understanding by Design," we have helped teachers develop effective units and lesson plans in order to increase student learning and overall outcomes in the classroom. 

Hannah Decatur came to Darlington as a teacher-intern from Johns Hopkins University where she majored in history. Although she was well-versed in her content area, her approach in the classroom was relatively typical of a new teacher. 

Hannah began working with the Teaching and Learning Center in an effort to add more to her class. With the idea of simply adding more resources to her class, we have been able to create entire units and alternative lessons to enrich her students’ understanding of history.

"The Learning Center has provided me with the opportunity to work one-on-one with students, and to learn the best way to reach different types of students. As a new teacher, the Learning Center has also helped me learn how to navigate the classroom, and provided assistance with lesson plans and project ideas.” 
                                              - Hannah Decatur, Upper School history

Hannah has created simulations, graded discussions and Skype interviews with a parent from France, all in an effort to create a richer experience for her students in the classroom. She is now a full-time teacher at Darlington and continues to redesign and grow her understanding of new and better teaching techniques.

Henrik Malmberg is extremely well-versed in physics, however as a fourth-year teacher he continues to look to the Learning Center for ideas on classroom engagement as well as unit planning. His students have benefited by his pre-planning and organization this year after working with the Learning Center. 

“Over the years the Learning Center has supported me in finding new ways to reach not only students that are connected with the Learning Center, but all of my students. This support has been in the forms of assessment design and planning, and timing these assessments with teaching and learning methods. The Learning Center has helped with designing educational material that will be suitable for all students. During my time at Darlington, I have written all my material being used for my course today, including online material such as webpages, problem tutorials and lecture videos. This started as a complement for the Learning Center students but is now benefiting all students in my course.”  
                                              - Henrik Malmberg, Upper School science

Henrik has learned to differentiate in the classroom as well as identify clear learning objectives and assess students' understanding of those objects. He now incorporates multiple modalities in the classroom including visual, auditory and kinesthetic activities. 

Gregg Marshall has been teaching English for 11 years, five of which have been with Darlington. In an effort to expand his teaching repertoire, Gregg has attended the Learning & the Brain Conference in Boston with Teaching and Learning Center staff. 

Gregg has been able to learn how to better conceptualize the learning for his students and apply this to his lessons in order to have literature better resonate in his classroom. Gregg has also joined us on a visit to Clemson University, in which he attended an English class and was able to meet with the professor in order to get an idea on skills students need to acquire to be successful in college. 

“The Learning Center ensures that teachers know the ins and outs of our students' learning styles, bettering not only the academic makeup of our students, but also the psychological. This coupling effect occurs at only the finest of schools, and Darlington has gotten it right by its placing of the Learning Center and, in particular, its students as its most important focus.”
                                                - Gregg Marshall, Upper School English 

Gregg has now joined the college adviser group at Darlington.

Phil Titus has been teaching science for 42 years. In an effort to expand his understanding and knowledge of neurological brain studies, he, too, attended the Learning & the Brain Conference.

“The Learning & the Brain Conference has been on my radar for years, but I was never able to get there until the Learning Center made it happen.” 
             - Phil Titus, Upper School science

The information Phil gleaned at the conference was not only useful in his biology and anatomy classes, but also made him more aware of student needs and struggles. With this information, he has worked to differentiate his approach in the classroom. Phil has also been able to use this information when addressing the complexities of the international students with learning differences. 

Regardless of his extensive time in the classroom, Phil continues to learn and utilize the Teaching and Learning Center in order to expand his content base, his classroom techniques and his approach with individual students.

The Glenn Teaching and Learning Center has assisted a variety of teachers ranging from those with no classroom experience to seasoned professionals with any needs they feel would benefit their students and their own professional growth. We have assisted teachers with continuing education and professional growth by facilitating attendance at conferences and visits to other sites in order to improve on their students’ experience. 

Teachers are able to visit us to obtain references for continuing education as well as have discussions on topics and students.  Teachers work with students in the Teaching and Learning Center under our supervision, frequently seeking and receiving on-the-job experience with students with diverse learning needs. 

It would be very difficult for any teacher to gain the knowledge and resources needed for today’s dynamic classroom in isolation. Our goal is to foster the development of all teachers and support their professional growth.