Forestville hears presentation on reform agenda

FORESTVILLE – With all the changes to educational requirements in schools recently, the Forestville Board of Education received a presentation on the Regents reform agenda.

BOCES Staff Development Specialist Michelle Helmer, who works in the Forestville Central School district a few days per week in a supportive role for staff and students, gave the presentation. Superintendent Charles Leichner said she is an “invaluable” addition to the staff.

“Even though she’s only equivalent to two days a week, she is an invaluable part of our team. It’s really been nice to work with her. She is a person who brings us a great deal of expertise and experience,” Leichner said. “Michelle, we really appreciate the investment of your life into the district here and the impact it has on kids. … The work you’re doing with us and the teachers translates directly to learning. That’s what it’s all about and we really applaud you.”

Helmer explained educational standards are linked to assessment, curriculum and instruction with the Annual Professional Performance Review also indirectly linked. She said since there is a new set of standards, the Common Core, reform of assessments, curriculum and instruction is taking place.

The reform agenda will help transition current instruction and curriculum utilized by teachers to help students meet the new standards.

“We need to rethink what is it that those skills need to look like and in comes the Common Core. The Common Core standards represent that evolution of our standards,” Helmer said.

The reform agenda also allowed common language in the form of the Danielson rubric and linked the assessment results to the APPR. Helmer explained better understanding of the rubric and student learning objectives is used by teachers to help better understand new assessments. Another critical part of her job is to build relationships with teachers.

“An integral part of my work is building relationships with teachers so I can begin to foster relationships that allow me to come into the classroom and start coaching models,” said Helmer. “I’m starting to get to that point where I can be in classrooms and be side-by-side with the teachers and really help to work with them and instruction.”

She helps teachers understand assessment changes and help teachers develop assessments. Helmer also helps Forestville teachers foster relationships with other teachers. If one teacher is having a problem with a content area, another teacher might be having the same problem.

” … Putting teachers together … where in some cases they might be the only teacher in a content area. We have increased that collaboration and that’s very powerful for staff development,” said Helmer. “For example, a teacher who teaches 7th and 8th grade ELA and is the only teacher of 7th and 8th grade ELA. For me to be able to say, ‘I know this teacher over here that also teaches 7th and 8th grade ELA and is struggling with the same thing. Why don’t we get you together somehow.’ I love that part of my job.”

Forums and community connections have been made through online resources, through BOCES and in person. Teachers can use Edmodo, online communities and even Twitter to connect virtually and regional workshops as a tool to connect in person.

“It’s nice to know you are working with other schools,” board member Carol Woodward said.

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