Task forces, technology and helplines aid teachers

Schools wouldn’t exist without teachers, so it’s imperative that teachers have the resources they need to thrive in the classroom. The Catholic Schools Center of Excellence (CSCOE) has taken the initiative to invest in teachers to ensure they have the tools they need to succeed.

This past summer, CSCOE hosted two teacher-led task forces, each composed of 10 teachers whose focus was to collaborate on how to increase excellence in the schools.  The idea was to bring teachers together to discuss issues and create solutions.

Alison Dahlman, principal at St. Peter Catholic School in North St. Paul, helped lead the task forces. She said the most significant conclusion she reached after the meetings was that Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis have “wonderful teachers.”

“They love their children and their families and want to serve the Church and these kids,” she said. “They are innovative and willing to share everything that they have come to know. They desire to improve for the benefit of their schools and students.”

She added, “Nothing is more powerful than simply bringing people together and giving them a goal that will benefit their schools.
It was really beautiful to watch happen.”
Another event CSCOE hosted was a teacher academy at Shakopee Area Catholic Schools to share innovative instructional strategies and practical methods for integrating technology in the classroom. About 230 individuals attended the two-day academy. Technology is a significant area of focus for many schools because it is always changing and evolving. Ryan Semans of Tierney Brothers, CSCOE’s technology partner, helped lead the academy.

According to Semans, some schools are further along than others with technology integration, but he remains confident that the teachers who attended the academy could leverage what they learned into better classroom experience- and student advancement.

Due to the success of the summer academy, CSCOE expanded its teacher academy offerings for the 2016-2017 school year. New topics include adaptive teaching and learning, assessment and interactive 21st-century lesson design.

Two additional tools for teachers are the Teacher Helpline and Google Communities. CSCOE’s Teacher Helpline offers free support for teachers, by teachers, with a focus on instructional tools and strategies.

CSCOE created Google Communities for teachers of different grade levels and specialty areas to connect, share resources and ask each other questions. These communities are not only a resource for teachers, but also for principals.

“Teachers have taken to Google Communities very well,” Semans said. “Like any new tool, it takes time to implement, but CSCOE has great numbers participating in each community. It is great seeing teachers sharing questions and solutions together in this format.”

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