Instructional Facilitators' Goal is to Improve Student Achievement

Summit Public School instruction facilitators Sharon West, Elizabeth Aaron, and Claudette Rogers, from left, are working with teachers to enhance teaching strategies and improve learning outcomes.

With stimulus funds provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the Summit Public Schools has added three instructional facilitators to its faculty to assist in improving teaching and learning results for students with disabilities.

A facilitator has been assigned to each school level. Claudette Rogers is working with pre-K through elementary school. Sharon West is the instructional facilitator at Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School, and Elizabeth Aaron is at Summit High School.

"These positions represent the kind of daily, job-embedded professional learning for staff that has been identified through research as being critical for improving student achievement," said Julie Glazer, assistant superintendent of schools.

"The facilitators have been working directly with teachers to provide coaching on best instructional practices in all academic subjects, collaborative teaching skills, and lesson planning, including the use of technology," said Dr. Jane Kachmar-Desonne, director of Summit's Special Education Services. "They have also been analyzing student data for use as a tool for improving student achievement."

Dr. Kachmar-Desonne said that the facilitators' work in the classrooms is also maximizing learning opportunities for students at all learning levels.

Claudette Rogers has been working with the administrators, teachers, and students in Summit's two Primary Centers and five elementary schools. She is supporting the teachers individually and/or in collective teams by leading discussion groups on instruction and achievement for targeted groups, providing on-site customized professional learning as well as follow-up coaching, and assisting in the analysis of data in order to make informed decisions about teaching and learning.

"I am looking forward to working with all the stakeholders in the district to maximize opportunities for all learners," said Ms. Rogers. She has recently offered a professional learning workshop for teachers of grades three through five on the NJASK assessment and another workshop for special education staff on co-teaching.

At Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School, Sharon West is collaborating with teachers in all academic subjects on developing learning tasks and procedures. Her work with teachers includes developing interdisciplinary units for students at all learning levels. Additionally, Ms. West is facilitating professional development sessions on improving individualized learning through the integration of technology.

"I am looking forward to continued collaboration with teachers as they explore structures and strategies for meeting the needs of various learners, incorporate higher order thinking, collaboration and problem solving," said Ms. West. "These include further development of authentic contexts to drive instruction, tools for assessment, and structures for individualizing learning experiences on the lesson, unit, and classroom levels."

Elizabeth Aaron is working closely with the administrators and department chairpersons at Summit High School to examine how and where instructional practices are meeting the needs of all learners and challenging all students to meet and exceed academic expectations across grade, subject, and course levels. She is working with teachers to assess the effectiveness of their own instructional strategies and the performance of their students.

"As a full-time professional developer I expect to support regular and special education teachers with strategies and programs to increase the success of all of our student populations," Ms. Aaron said.

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