Last updated: August 06. 2014 5:43AM - 960 Views
By Tanya Chilton tchilton@civitasmedia.com

Elkin Middle School Principal Pam Tolbert and Human Resource Specialist Allison Moxley discuss the importance of celebration and accomplishment in a 21st-century project-based format.
Elkin Middle School Principal Pam Tolbert and Human Resource Specialist Allison Moxley discuss the importance of celebration and accomplishment in a 21st-century project-based format.
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In the recent Elkin City Schools’ Administrative Retreat, Curriculum Instruction Specialist Cynthia Altemueller described to the administrative staff what a 21st-century classroom would look like in Elkin classrooms.

While using an intentional engaging style as an example, Altemueller reinforced intentional modeling as what teachers should expect to begin translating into the future classroom.

Altemueller said, “The call for us as leaders is we have to become more engaged in teaching and learning.”

She reminded as leaders, educators must be willing to change their own leadership styles, if they are to expect the same of students.

Altemueller led educational exercises designed to challenge current views and styles of teaching. She focused on how to go beyond the “norm” to fully engage the student in learning.

Altemueller said the 21st-century classroom will focus on developing critical thinking skills and solving complex problems. Both in individual and group format, she said.

In addition, the culture of the classroom was emphasized. There will be a priority to make the classroom walk-through, a future tool in the learning process, she said. However, Altemueller said teachers should not feel as though walk-throughs are evaluations.

In an engaged classroom model, Altemueller said it is important to know the culture of the building and how-to build on strengths. She shared a video, instructed on the importance of info-graphics, and demonstrated tools available to teachers supporting student engagement.

Padlet was one such tool recommended and is found at www.padlet.com.

Altemueller and the staff concluded it is a formative and collaborative work-space and a great assessment tool. Other interactive learning sites helpful for teachers were listed as being from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

Elkin Middle School Principal Pam Tolbert said after using Padlet at the retreat, kids who may not normally speak opinions may actually do so with its help, due to its anonymity. Other educational staff remarked their enthusiasm with privacy options found in the program. In effect, they said the privacy options would help create a non-threatening environment and alleviate embarrassment when asking questions.

At one point, administrative staff was asked to break into three groups, as an example of a 21st-century classroom, group-based learning style. Groups were separated into communication through empowerment and delegation; celebration and accomplishment; and organization.

In the topic of empowerment and delegation, ECS Superintendent Dr. Randy Bledsoe, Elkin High School Principal Joel Hoyle, high school Assistant Principal Cassundra Morrison and Elkin Elementary School Principal Anthony Davis worked together in discussion.

Hoyle said the theme emphasized the importance of making stakeholders feel part of the educational process and the importance of delegation. Hoyle said he believed educators should strive to make people become better leaders themselves, whether in housekeeping or teaching.

Bledsoe agreed some of the toughest areas of leadership are with leaders and delegation, but said it is ultimately necessary to let a person live a leadership role while allowing for improvement.

In the celebrations and accomplishment group, Elkin Middle School Principal Pam Colbert and Human Resources Specialist Allison Moxley emphasized the importance of knowing others as a person, sincerity and follow-through. They said giving people credit for accomplishments and taking responsibility for shortcomings were necessary.

In the organization group, Administrative Assistant Noelle Wolfe, Career and Technical Education Director Barbara Long and Director of Testing and Accountability Shelia Settle used organizing tasks in a project. They reported organization makes for more efficiency, while it saves and respects others’ time.

With a final challenge, Altemueller asked, “My question to you is how are you going to model?” All the while, the question remains — Are the students engaged? If not, what do they need to do in the classroom to become engaged?

Most all of the concluding comments by the administrative staff were enthusiastic.

Hoyle said, “What our hope is that our teachers have learned and saw in their training — is it is not a huge shift, but more of a collaboration.”

Morrison said, “It is all about engaging and collaborating, being a guide, a coach. The teacher is needed to engage.”

Tolbert said it is asking teachers to make a shift and doing some things that may have been previously unheard of in teaching. “Some kids just want chapters to read, sorry you got to think,” but added, “We have to have patience with kids and students.”

Davis said it is important to remember modeling has to occur with “someone that they (the students) trust.”

Bledsoe concluded that the engagement process in education is necessary with parents also, to help them understand academic needs are different than they were 20 years ago.

Tanya Chilton may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @TanyaTDC.

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