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Poestenkill Elementary School “Teaching Struggling Learners”
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  1. Poestenkill Elementary School“Teaching Struggling Learners” Conference Presenter: Principal, Peter De Witt, M.S. Ed., S.D.A. Averill Park Central School District

  2. What You Will Learn Today • Personal Stories • A better understanding of a struggling learner • Proactive approaches • Classroom Interventions • Building approaches • Approaches and interventions that will work with all students, regardless of if they are classified or not. • Graduation/Report Card Data

  3. Background Information • Educational Experience • Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education (College of Saint Rose) • Masters Degree in Educational Psychology (Marist College) • Advanced Study Degree in Educational Administration (College of Saint Rose) • Administration • Principal of Poestenkill Elementary School. Averill Park Central School District • Board of Directors, Albany Damien Center • Children’s Author • Toaster Pond (DNA Press) • Catcher’s Mitt (Centering Corporation, summer 2007) • Isabella and the Room of Lost Brooms (DNA Press, fall 2007)

  4. Teaching Experience • Eleven years • One & ½ years in a private school system • Nine years in city school districts – • 35% free/reduced lunch • 75% free/reduced lunch • Inclusion: Over 20% of the population was Special Education • Team teaching – Push-in/ Pull-out inclusion programs • Reading First School • Adjunct Professor, Graduate School of Education

  5. How Struggling Learners are Described • Bored • Lazy • Not trying hard enough • He/she could do better if they wanted to • Not interested in school • Need to be classified – some do need to be classified, but not all. • Detached

  6. What if… • What if we dig down deeper to find out why they’re detached? • What if we concentrate on the subject but focus more on the student? • What if we find multiple interventions to use with them (differentiated instruction, etc.)? • What if we concentrated on being proactive, not reactive? • Wouldn’t that help us understand why they’re struggling and help them become successful?

  7. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

  8. Seeing much, suffering much, and studying much, are the three pillars of learning. Benjamin Disraeli

  9. Life Experience • Father was diagnosed with cancer when I was in fourth grade • Grandparents • Retained in Fourth • Father passed away when I was in fifth grade • Mother received her GED • Sub-sophomore • Involved in a car accident at the age of seventeen • Graduated 262 out of 266 • Youngest of five, first to go to college

  10. Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you.Aldous Huxley

  11. The Enlightenment! • GPA - 1.7 – Third community college • Hit the frustration level • Learning Assistance Center • Asking for help is difficult • GPA - 3.86 • First sign of success was wonderful and uncomfortable all at the same time

  12. A mind once stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimensions. Anonymous

  13. What Turned Life Around? • Positive peer relationships • Role models (teachers, coaches) • As the positives start rolling, you see the light at the end of the tunnel • Stepped out of my normal environment

  14. What Did I Learn? • Different learners need different types of instruction – no matter what grade level the students are in. • Walking into the LAC I found someone who knew how to teach to my strengths (strengths-based instruction)

  15. A student by definition doesn't know what he or she doesn't know. Michael Gorman

  16. Factors that Interfere

  17. What Can School Districts Do?

  18. Poestenkill’s Approaches & Interventions

  19. What does PES do to Help Struggling Learners? • Proactive Approach • Tour of the building to new arrivals • Summer • During the school year • Kindergarten visitation • Kids Club/Advisory • A positive adult influence • Reciprocal benefit for teachers & staff • Professional Development • For instructional and educational support staff • Workshops

  20. Professional Development • In-services – approved by building principal and then approved by the assistant superintendent • They are taught by teachers within the district • No need for “one shot deals” • Wilson Reading • Fundations • Book Clubs • Homework Issues • Using the environment in our teaching • Writing workshops • Four-Square • Six-Traits of Writing • All in-services are open to faculty & staff because they all have direct contact with students

  21. Book Clubs

  22. Professional Development for Educational Support Staff & Transportation • Interactions outside of the classroom have a direct impact on instruction in the classroom • How to build positive interactions/relationships • Between kids and other adults • De-escalation strategies • How & when to intervene • Teasing/Harassment • Observable Behaviors & "I" statements • Self-Esteem (staff & student) • Confidentiality • One teacher, high school assistant principal, and elementary principal teach thirty minute workshops in each building, once a week during each school day.

  23. Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater. Gail Godwin

  24. Classroom Approaches • Collaboration • Book Clubs • Differentiated instruction • Center-based, activity-based instruction • Incorporating music into instruction • Banjos, guitars & singing • Musical poetry • Songs about the seven continents…to helping out the world • Change the look of our environment • Exercise balls • Theatre lighting • Chewing gum?

  25. Center-based Instruction • 90 minute reading blocks • Small group, large group • Homogeneous, heterogeneous • Hands-on math lessons (using manipulatives as much as possible) • Incorporating our 27 acres of land into science lessons • Gardening projects • Courtyard instruction

  26. Classroom Environment

  27. Initiatives to Enhance Classroom Instruction • Child study team (CST) • Strict twenty minute timeframe • Everyone has a job • Scribe • Brainstorming • timer • Principal’s Advisory Committee (PAC) • Study skills • Wonderlab- Used for children in need of a sensory diet. These children do not have to be classified with an I.E.P. but they do have to have parental permission

  28. Initiatives to Address Non-academic Strengths • Counseling • Friends groups • Service-learning • Magic Moments • Reading Buddies • Student spotlight • Trailblazers • Heifer Project • Project adventure • Arts-in-education • After-school Enrichment (ASE) • Junior Achievement

  29. A strong home/school communication/partnership • Magic Moments • Volunteering • Come Play with Me Days • Reader’s Theatre • Parent-teacher Association (PTA) • Educational Improvement Team (EIT) • Learning about learning workshops • Family Events – • Grandparents’ Day • Harvest Festival • Open Houses (throughout the year) • Family Events • Music Concerts – seasonal, Erie Canal, Albany Symphony Orchestra • Kindergarten Visits – proactive approach

  30. School Data

  31. School Data

  32. In the Following Graphs… • Percentages are for students graduating from high school over a five year span • Does not separate between GED, IEP, Regents, or Local Diplomas • Does not take into account the many students not classified because of our proactive approach (ex. AIS, study groups)

  33. Students with Disabilities %

  34. Students with Emotional Disturbance

  35. Students with a Learning Disability

  36. Students with Mental Retardation

  37. Students with a Speech or Language Impairment

  38. Students with an Other Health Impairment

  39. Students with Multiple Disabilities

  40. Summary Report of All Disabilities

  41. I am still learningMichelangelo

  42. Thank You!!! • If you have any questions/comments, please e-mail me at: • Toasterpond@hotmail.com • www.toasterpond.com