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Conference Gives V.I Teachers New Skills, Strategies

July 1, 2008 — School only recently got out for the summer, but a lot of V.I. teachers are fired up to try out a raft of new skills and strategies on their students.
The V.I. Education Department sent nearly 300 educators, administrators, parents and school board members to the 2008 Model Schools Conference in Orlando, Fla. The event focused on the need for education to adapt to the needs of students living in a fast-changing world.
"One of the cornerstones of the conference is highlighting model programs, sharing best practices and also challenges," said Todd Daggett, one of the conference organizers.
Today's students are different, according to Dr. La Verne Terry, education commissioner.
"In some ways they are smarter," Terry said. "They learned technology on their own."
Capitalizing on this learning capability, the conference taught educators ways to adapt the system to these learners, Terry said.
The conference attracted more than 7,500 educators from every state, as well as Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and 15 foreign nations, according to Daggett.
While the territory's delegates represented a large percentage of educators, the delegation was dwarfed by those of other states.
A number of travel problems forced some attendees to arrive at 4 a.m. or miss first-day sessions. Terry said she saw V.I. educators with only a couple hours of sleep enthused about what they were hearing in the sessions. Terry also observed V.I. school teams voluntarily gathering in hallways after hours to debrief each other.
The conference afforded opportunities to talk to other schools.
Dahlia Adams, principal of the V.I. Career and Technical Center, plans to capitalize on a meeting with a model technical school from Florida.
"My school is different," Adams said. "We teach adults; the criteria has to be different."
Like the model school, Adams plans to leverage her school's culinary arts program to introduce an on-site school lunch. Benefits will include getting students back to class sooner.
Kathy Hudson, who works with Adams, has taught in the territory 18 years. Conference sessions gave her new tools for classroom management, allowing for more instructional time, she said.
The sessions gave a lot of other useful strategies, including "bell work" or warm-up assignments rather than taking attendance or handing out papers first thing during class — dead time for students.
Where disciplining students publicly for acting out used to take time away from teaching others, Hudson said she planned to use a new strategy she learned from a session.
"Instead of stopping your class and making a scene, you just hand them a little note that says, 'Please change your behavior, see me after class,' then you don't take all that time away from instruction."
Luz Wade, one of the parents who joined the contingent, was impressed with one session that recommended the teacher create a script to maximize on every minute of the class, starting on the first day.
Adams agreed the strategy is a good one.
"You have your first day of class, and you know exactly what you are going to do — minute by minute," Adams said. "Otherwise those kids are going to take control of you for the whole year. It is the precedent you set."
Budgetary numbers for the trip were not yet available from the department. However, Terry said she could already see the return on the investment, pointing to Adams' ideas picked up from the technical model school.
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July 1, 2008 -- School only recently got out for the summer, but a lot of V.I. teachers are fired up to try out a raft of new skills and strategies on their students.
The V.I. Education Department sent nearly 300 educators, administrators, parents and school board members to the 2008 Model Schools Conference in Orlando, Fla. The event focused on the need for education to adapt to the needs of students living in a fast-changing world.
"One of the cornerstones of the conference is highlighting model programs, sharing best practices and also challenges," said Todd Daggett, one of the conference organizers.
Today's students are different, according to Dr. La Verne Terry, education commissioner.
"In some ways they are smarter," Terry said. "They learned technology on their own."
Capitalizing on this learning capability, the conference taught educators ways to adapt the system to these learners, Terry said.
The conference attracted more than 7,500 educators from every state, as well as Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and 15 foreign nations, according to Daggett.
While the territory's delegates represented a large percentage of educators, the delegation was dwarfed by those of other states.
A number of travel problems forced some attendees to arrive at 4 a.m. or miss first-day sessions. Terry said she saw V.I. educators with only a couple hours of sleep enthused about what they were hearing in the sessions. Terry also observed V.I. school teams voluntarily gathering in hallways after hours to debrief each other.
The conference afforded opportunities to talk to other schools.
Dahlia Adams, principal of the V.I. Career and Technical Center, plans to capitalize on a meeting with a model technical school from Florida.
"My school is different," Adams said. "We teach adults; the criteria has to be different."
Like the model school, Adams plans to leverage her school's culinary arts program to introduce an on-site school lunch. Benefits will include getting students back to class sooner.
Kathy Hudson, who works with Adams, has taught in the territory 18 years. Conference sessions gave her new tools for classroom management, allowing for more instructional time, she said.
The sessions gave a lot of other useful strategies, including "bell work" or warm-up assignments rather than taking attendance or handing out papers first thing during class -- dead time for students.
Where disciplining students publicly for acting out used to take time away from teaching others, Hudson said she planned to use a new strategy she learned from a session.
"Instead of stopping your class and making a scene, you just hand them a little note that says, 'Please change your behavior, see me after class,' then you don't take all that time away from instruction."
Luz Wade, one of the parents who joined the contingent, was impressed with one session that recommended the teacher create a script to maximize on every minute of the class, starting on the first day.
Adams agreed the strategy is a good one.
"You have your first day of class, and you know exactly what you are going to do -- minute by minute," Adams said. "Otherwise those kids are going to take control of you for the whole year. It is the precedent you set."
Budgetary numbers for the trip were not yet available from the department. However, Terry said she could already see the return on the investment, pointing to Adams' ideas picked up from the technical model school.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.