STEM Coordinator & Science Department Chair, Chesapeake High
On Tuesday, April 14th, I had an opportunity to join some of my colleagues from Chesapeake High School on a Learning Walk at Hawthorne Elementary School. As one of the Lighthouse Schools within our district, the environments in which students learn are transitioning away from the traditional classroom, and shifting to a more technology rich, student centered focus. My compliments go out to the staff at Hawthorne Elementary on the very positive culture and feel within the building as we had an opportunity to walk around.
The data that was shared is impressive and it was evident that the classrooms were more student focused and very consistent in terms of how they are thoughtfully arranged. In many classrooms it was difficult to identify “teacher desks” as this was simply not the focal point of the classrooms, and the opportunities for differentiation and differentiated assessment with some of the programs they are using clearly meets the needs of students on all levels and allows for teachers to monitor progress behind the scenes. Many classrooms also displayed student “goals statements”, further evidence of students being aware of their learning styles and taking accountability for their progress.
As the STEM Coordinator at Chesapeake since 2006, I have done a lot of work with our feeder elementary and middle schools, and I had an opportunity on Tuesday to talk with Hawthorne’s STEM integration teacher, Kathy Benson. We had some ideas for collaborating with the robotics programs in both of our schools, possibly through video conferencing, and I am looking forward to this opportunity. I am also hoping that there will be further opportunities for collaborative professional development amongst teachers at all levels as we begin to see these changes in teaching and learning ripple up to middle and high school learning environments.