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Stories from the Schools: April 2021

Opting In For Student Achievement At our partner school Teague Middle School in Aldine ISD, Houston A+ Math coach James Dirden has been working with seventh-grade math teacher Mr. Freeman on his classroom environment. Student investment in the learning was important pre-pandemic, and it's evermore so now: overcoming the disruptions, compounding trauma and unpredictability of the last 12 months. James and Mr. Freeman have been looking at how the classroom environment impacts student achievement and reflecting on how expectations can create an option for students to opt-out of the learning. Students who are invested in the learning and classroom community tend to opt-in. James is sharing his A+ expertise through an instructional strategy that holds students accountable in predictable ways. The goal? Engage students in the math at hand AND give Mr. Freeman the evidence-based coaching he needs to continue growing his classroom environment. What Normal Means Now More than a year into the pandemic, the dramatic shifts in teaching and learning that once rocked school campuses are beginning to look familiar… and now seem almost normal. As a coaching organization committed to effective instructional practices across professional learning communities, we strive to meet teams where they are - and in a recent case that meant through the computer screen for an introduction to the work. Houston A+ Math Coach Jen Mascheck recently joined the fourth-grade team and Specialist Irene Cann at partner school Orange Grove MS in Aldine ISD.

Jen tuned in remotely to get their work started (photo below), and she had this to say about the meeting.

"This observation was the groundwork for increasing efficiency of team meetings, and meeting the team for the first time was the beginning of what will be a great partnership. Irene shared after our consultation that the following four team meetings had more time to look at content and work on the mathematics we want students to learn!"

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