"What is awesome is these teachers are coming together to get better after the school day, outside of normal hours. They are doing their homework to deliver better instruction to our students."
Shanna Gannon, Director of Professional Learning
Staff across all departments focused on student success, engagement
Students at first were shocked. Then came laughter. Then it was back to being serious. But ... it is hard to be too serious when your teacher is standing on the desk in front of you doing a loud, goofy cheer.
The students, the teacher and the desks he stood on were on the Grand Island Senior High auditorium stage. The students were elementary aged from across the district, selected to be a part of the mock classroom for the teacher, Adam Dovico. Dovico was hired by the GIPS's professional learning team to present on engagement.
That morning, in early September, all of the district's elementary and preschool teachers were in the audience watching as Dovico demonstrated his ways of running an engaged classroom. He repeated the lesson in the afternoon with secondary students on stage and secondary teachers in the audience.
"Our focus for staff development this year is on student engagement," said Shanna Gannon, GIPS director of professional learning. "As we develop stronger curriculum, we must also develop better ways to deliver it to our students."
Keeping students engaged in the classroom is much more than standing on desks, Gannon said.
"While that is a great way to get attention," Gannon said, "we're working with staff on everything from how they celebrate a success down to how often - and why - they call on each individual student."
Student engagement is important to learning for a number of reasons, but mainly it boils down to our belief about "Every Student, Every Day, a Success" and in order to achieve that we need every student actively engaged in every lesson. Active engagement looks different than compliance. We have to make student thinking visible.
Gannon and members of the GIPS Teaching & Learning Department have started frequent seminars on different specific topics to increase engagement.
"It is not uncommon for us to have 30 teachers together diving into new ways to engage students," Gannon said. "What is awesome is these teachers are coming together to get better after the school day, outside of normal hours. They are doing their homework to deliver better instruction to our students."
And that, Gannon said, is something worth standing on a desk and celebrating.