Archive for the ‘Rodel Teacher Council’ Category

Teaching in a Competency-Based Education Environment

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July 2017

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Teaching in a Competency-Based Education Environment

When I describe competency-based education to friends and family—students moving through education based on mastery of skill rather than seat time, lessons personalized to the individual, and students taking ownership of their learning — the reaction is generally “that sounds better.” Unless that friend or family member is a teacher, in which case a host of very good questions arise about the practicalities of teaching in a competency-based environment.


“I have 30 kids? Do I have to plan a different lesson plan for each of them?”

The answer to this is no. A learner-centered classroom doesn’t mean the teacher plans lessons for each student. Robin Kanaan, KnowledgeWorks Director of Teaching and Learning, explained that you don’t have individual lesson plans for every student: “Students co-determine with the teacher what learning targets they need to accomplish and how they could show evidence of their learning. This is possible through agency and equipping students to understand themselves as learners.”

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Award Opportunities

Teacher Awards for Literacy (Deadline: September 15)
The Penguin Random House Teacher Awards for Literacy program recognizes the nation’s most dynamic and resourceful teachers who use their creativity to inspire and successfully instill a love of reading in students. Winners are awarded cash grants and book donations to help further their innovative reading programs and to disseminate them to other teachers around the country.
NEA Learning & Leadership Grants (Deadline: October 15)
These grants support National Education Association members who are public school teachers, public education support professionals, and/or faculty and staff in public institutions of higher education for one of the following two purposes: Grants to individuals fund participation in high-quality professional development experiences and grants to groups fund collegial study.TranspARTation Grants (Ongoing)
The TranspARTation Grant supports travel costs to Delaware arts and cultural institutions and venues so that students may attend events, performances, and exhibits that have high-quality arts components. TranspARTation applications are accepted on an ongoing basis but must be received at least six weeks prior to the field trip date.

Save the Date


2017 Delaware Estuary Watershed Teacher Workshop (Various locations, July 17-20)
Join Partnership for the Delaware Estuary for four days of exciting workshops. Come and learn interdisciplinary ways to translate the environmental experience to your classroom.


Reading Summit: Decoding Strategies for Literacy Development (Newark, August 16 – 17)
Participants will learn powerful strategies to teach essential skills necessary for strong fluency and comprehension. These strategies, when applied using an explicit, systematic and age-sensitive approach, rapidly improve grapheme-phonemic awareness, decoding, vocabulary, and spelling.


iNACOL Symposium (Orlando, October 23 – 25)
iNACOL’s annual conference is the industry’s leading event for K-12 competency-based, blended, and online learning. Experts, practitioners, educators, policymakers, and researchers gather and work to transform education. This year’s theme is “Personalizing Learning: Equity, Access, Quality.”


DelawareCAN Educators of Color Monthly Meetup (Wilmington, Multiple Dates)
DelawareCAN: The Delaware Campaign for Achievement Now is hosting its monthly educators of color council meetup. Come connect with other educators of color across the state and learn about opportunities to make your voice heard about Delaware’s education system.

Must Read Stories

Did You Know?

Academics are critical, but so is a child’s social and emotional development. Strong academics will always be central in Delaware schools but in a rapidly changing world, it’s becoming increasingly important that young people receive a holistic educational experience that maximizes who they are as individuals—one that instills skills like communication, collaboration, critical thinking, empathy, and creativity.


This concept of developing “social and emotional learning” (SEL)—a phrase that’s often cross-referenced with “whole child”—is not a new one. Generations of educators have said that the so-called soft skills mentioned above are all important ingredients in child development.

In Delaware, it’s exciting to see a renewed focus and collaboration on social-emotional learning. We have created a webpage that combines national and state data and initiatives underway in order to inform ongoing conversations about SEL in Delaware. This list is not comprehensive, and we encourage you to share additional resources with us on Twitter by using the hashtag #SELinDE.

We communicate regularly about news and developments in Delaware public education with policymakers, community leaders, teachers, and the public at large.

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Recapping RTC Legislative Day

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Earlier this month, members of the Rodel Teacher Council took a field trip to Legislative Hall in Dover, where they spoke to some of Delaware’s most prominent lawmakers—from Gov. John Carney, to Chief Information Officer Sec. James Collins, to a handful of state congressional leaders.

On the agenda were discussions around school broadband connectivity, personalized learning, and the state’s tight education budget.

We spoke to Luke Crossan, a teacher at Alfred G. Waters Middle School and a first-year member of the RTC, about his experience.

Q: What was the overall experience like?

Luke: I had never been to Legislative Hall, so I just loved walking around and talking to everybody. It was great to get in front of policymakers and hear their viewpoints, since teachers don’t always get that opportunity. We met as a big group with Gov. Carney, Sec. Susan Bunting, Sec. Collins, Sen. David Sokola, and Rep. Earl Jaques. In my smaller breakout group we chatted with Rep. Harvey Kenton, Rep. Charles Postles Jr., and Sen. Gary Simpson.


Q: What did you talk to legislators about?

Luke: One was emphasizing the importance of strong education policy and personalized learning. For the legislators who were less familiar with those topics, we gave them some of the basics of personalized learning. Some legislators knew more, so we could discuss more specifics like waivers or content mastery.

One big thing we talked about was increasing the broadband capacity for all schools. We did dive in deep with Sec. Collins on that, and we were able to share stories from our classrooms that underscore the need for better broadband connectivity. He was super receptive to our stories, and he told us that his job is to increase that connectivity and he shared with us some of his plan for making those improvements.


Q: What was your impression of Gov. Carney and the members of the Legislature?

Luke: Gov. Carney seems super supportive of education—but tempered that by talking about the tight budget situation. He really does seem to understand that education needs to grow and change if we want Delaware students to thrive and for our system to keep up with the rest of the country.

He also focused heavily on local decisions, the idea that need to shift more decision-making to local schools and districts instead of state mandates.

Sen. Simpson had great knowledge of education issues and was inquisitive. He kept asking us for our ideas, and even our thoughts on how to trim the budget, for example, since my school has 1-to-1 devices, do we really still need textbooks?


Q: What were some of your takeaways looking back on the experience?

Luke: My takeaway is that it needs to happen more—educators engaging with policymakers. Districts should try to get in front of these lawmakers more.

The whole day was unique to me. Being face-to-the face with the leader of the state is a huge moment for me. It’s great to have that accessibility in Delaware, but sitting down with the governor around the table was an awesome experience. I’m definitely sending him an email asking him to come stop by my classroom sometime for a visit.

How Dropping Out Leads to Lost Economic Potential

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Investing in Education
It’s not just kids, parents, and teachers who feel the impact of our public schools. If you’re a citizen of Delaware, then you are—in one way or another—affected by our state’s education system. Check back regularly as we take a closer look at how When Students Succeed, We All Win.


The lost economic potential of high school dropouts is no joke for Delaware’s economy.

Typically, high school dropouts earn $8,000 less annually, compared to high school graduates. In Delaware, high school dropouts are twice as likely as high school graduates and six times as likely as college graduates to live in poverty.

Why are students dropping out?

In a national study published by Clemson University’s National Dropout Prevention Center, students cite the following as some of the most common reasons why they drop out of high school:

  • Missed too many school days (43.5%)
  • Was getting poor grades/failing school (38%)
  • Did not like school (36.6%)
  • Could not keep up with schoolwork (32.1%)
  • Did not feel belonged there (19.9%)


How Personalized Learning Can Help


  • A personalized setting seeks to prevent these types of issues by addressing the underlying causes of student disengagement and preventing academic gaps from occurring in the first place. Students become the center of the learning environment, and students and teachers work together towards students’ learning goals.


  • Addressing students’ individual needs and building on students’ strengths and interests boosts student engagement. This helps prevent absenteeism and increases feelings of belonging and investment in school—ultimately putting students in the driver’s seat.


Resources to learn more:

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