Collaboration is key to improvement of education in Delaware
8:55 a.m., Oct. 19, 2012--Collaboration was the key theme at the Vision 2015 conference “Education in the First State: Positioned to Lead” held Wednesday, Oct. 17, at Clayton Hall on the University of Delaware’s Laird Campus in Newark.
The conference, sponsored by the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, provided attendees with an update on the efforts underway in Delaware as educators implement Race to the Top (RTTT) initiatives.
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Education is a complex topic, where the success of students is based on the effectiveness not only of teachers, but administrators, parents, the curriculum, the community and the students themselves.
Paul Herdman, president and CEO of Rodel Foundation, said, “Delaware is uniquely poised for progress. We are small, our leaders are on board and we have effectively moved our focus from planning to actually implementing changes to help our schools.”
Speakers at the event included Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, state Secretary of Education Mark Murphy, business leaders, teachers and administrators, who each made it clear that the key element to success with RTTT over the past two years has been the ability to collaborate. Open dialogue and sharing constructive feedback has helped the state improve and move toward a common goal – providing children with an excellent education.
This coordination “can be hard and messy,” admits Murphy, “but it is so rewarding.”
- Teachers are meeting, both informally within their school, or formally through Professional Learning Communities (PLC), to discuss curriculum, lesson planning, common core state standards. Teachers compare their assessment results, evaluate strategies and share best practices.
- Administrators are receiving leadership coaching to help them develop time management skills, effectively implement student assessments and guide teachers as they improve their practice. Experienced principals mentor incoming administrators to prepare them for the rigorous job ahead.
- Schools are identifying new ways to involve parents in their children’s education. Pulaski Elementary School implemented Pulaski on the Prowl, where teachers visit the homes of their students before the school year begins. This gives the students a chance to meet their teachers, helps the teachers target their instruction and gives the parents a greater level of comfort and cooperation. Parents are more likely to participate in school activities, such as teacher conferences, once they have made this connection.
Markell explained the importance of reaching children, especially those from low-income families, to ensure they have the necessary skills when they enter school. He praised UD’s Delaware Stars for Early Success program for provided an excellent base for evaluating early childhood education centers. This program is striving to help children from low-income families receive high quality child care.
UD’s College of Education and Human Development offers several other programs that are helping to advance education in Delaware.
- The Delaware Academy for School Leadership (DASL) has been training teacher leaders to facilitate PLC’s in southern Delaware districts, coaching 140 principals and assistant principals on navigating teacher evaluations, and overseeing an Aspiring School Leader Program to train new principals.
- To help introduce Common Core State Standards (CCSS) to educators, DASL, Delaware Center for Teacher Education, the Department of English and the Math and Science Education Resource Center (MSERC) have been working with districts to help them implement common core teaching practices in their classrooms, offering institutes to help them develop teaching modules and facilitating discussions on how the new standards may impact campus teaching and learning.
During the conference, five educators were presented with an iEducate award, for being best able to represent the ideals of iEducate Delaware, with projects that had the most potential impact and reach.
The iEducate awardees are:
- Audrey Carey, district supervisor, Indian River, using technology to help English language learners;
- Lori Roe, IT specialist, Cape Henlopen, embracing technology in high school;
- Margaret O’Dwyer, Delaware Youth Leadership Network;
- Sarah Preston, Bush Early Education Center, integrating children with autism; and
- Tracey Roberts, principal, Pulaski Elementary School, increasing parental involvement.
Article by Alison Burris
Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson