Livingston’s teachers are learning or re-learning about various strategies to meet the needs of diverse learners in their classrooms as they participate in the Marzano training this summer.
All of the strategies modeled throughout the training sessions will help teachers improve their teaching methods and engage students in the learning process, said Mary Oates, Livingston Public Schools’ Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, who oversees staff development in the School District.
The School District offered two training sessions on “The Art & Science of Teaching,” the week of June 27th. Two more training sessions are being offered this week.
At the Board of Education meeting Monday, Livingston Schools Superintendent Brad Draeger said 72 percent of the District’s certified staff will have participated in the training by the end of this week. “Most teachers are very excited and have given it very good reviews with 4.8 or 4.9 ratings (out of 5). It is unbelievable.”
“This initiative is a major undertaking for the District,” Oates said, adding that a session was also offered last summer when 80 staff members including 30 administrators participated in the program.
Dr. Robert Marzano conducts extensive research and has written many books on classroom instruction including “Classroom Instruction that Works,” and “The Art and Science of Teaching: A Comprehensive Framework for Effective Instruction.”
Tina Boogren of the Marzano Research Laboratory, who conducting the training sessions this week as well as the ones offered earlier in the summer, asked teachers to reflect on nine design questions which will help them meet the needs of their students.
Livingston Public Schools allocated a portion of the District’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to pay for professional development, which covered the costs of the training, Oates said.
Teachers learned how to engage students and how to establish and maintain effective relationships with them. They also learned how to establish and maintain classroom rules and establish and communicate learning goals.
During a recent training session in the high school band room, Boogren told teachers to try to “incorporate physical movement into our classrooms” to help teachers increase the success of their students. The teachers stopped to stand up and stretch and then sat back down to learn. “I don’t know if you feel it or not, but your brain has more energy,” Boogren told the teachers after the exercise.
Boogren spoke about a former math teacher who made her love math even though it was her least favorite subject. “I loved math because of his (the teacher’s) demeanor,” she said. “He was funny and relaxed and I learned a great deal in his class.”
“If a teacher gives a message that they don’t want to be here, the students know that,” Boogren said, adding teachers should show students how much they enjoy what they do. “She loves second grade more than anything,” she said. “He loves PE more than anything.”
During a break in a recent workshop, every participant interviewed praised the training.
Linda Edwards, Livingston Public Schools’ Supervisor of Student Services, said the program was very interactive. “It really was a wonderful way for our teachers to review strategies,” she said. “It will make learning more powerful for our learners.”
Tina Renga, Livingston Public Schools’ Director of Guidance, said she found the Marzano training “fascinating” and said it gave her “exciting ideas.” “I feel empowered by the work that lies ahead for me and my department,” Renga said.
“It’s fabulous,” said high school science teacher Bobbi Bremmer, adding “This is the best in-service day we have ever had.” “It allows all of us who teach different disciplines and different grades to use the same strategy, but apply them differently.”
Burnet Hill teachers, Diana Yellen and Wendy Weiner, praised the program. “We are learning a common language,” Yellen said.
“We are learning a lot of practical ideas and activities to apply to the classroom,” Weiner said.
“It’s been awesome,” noted Kenneth Zushma, technology education teacher at Heritage Middle School. “It is applicable to every day and it is nice to catch up with colleagues I have not seen in a while.”