The Art of Building Connections Between Students and Instructors
Making connections is central to a quality education. A special bond is forged between instructors, students, and their peers. Together, with the sense of community that brings an entire school together, these connections and relationships inspire students to strive and instructors to take the learning experience to the next level.
Making these connections grow and thrive is Christine Archer-Davison’s passion.
Carving Out a Space for Instructors and Students
During the past two years, as the Instructional Technology Coordinator of Cherokee Trail High in, Colorado, Christine has used Schoology to build and maintain a digital network for both instructors and students. It’s a network that's constantly in use.
“You can’t pass by a computer in our school these days and not see someone accessing Schoology,” she says.
Building a Culture of Transparency
One of the biggest steps Christine has taken in the past couple years is to simply increase her school’s transparency and the way everyone interacts with everyone else.
“What was once a void in the parent-student-teacher connection has now been filled,” explains Christine. “Teachers and their classrooms are becoming more transparent.”
When asked if she had any examples of this shift towards transparency, Christine sites the seamless integration of Schoology with PowerSchool.
“Gone are the days of parents not knowing anything until a paper report is sent out,” she says. “We’re promoting a one-stop-shop for students and parents so having a presence in Schoology just makes sense.”
“We are even more excited to work with the new assessment management platform,” she continues. “We will be able to dive into some useful data that will help our teacher leaders work within their learning communities. Schoology just makes it so easy.”
Working Towards Going Paperless
Math instructors deliver their final exams electronically; the pre-engineering departments have gone almost completely paperless; instructors across the board are connecting their PowerSchool gradebooks and giving students near-instantaneous access. Christine is pleased to see Cherokee Trail High turning into a cutting-edge tech haven.
The benefits extend beyond standard coursework. “Counselors, club leaders, departments all utilize the groups feature,” Christine explains.
“Whether accessing content because they missed a class or participating in activities that extend the classroom, the students love having one unified system that all teachers use and communicate from.”
Instructors Are Learning Too
The entire faculty of Cherokee Trail High is using Schoology to track their workflow and career development, giving them a clear path to achieve goals and become even better instructors.
Faculty take their own professional development courses in conjunction with the state teacher evaluation process. Christine says they use the platform to “deliver, track progress, and ultimately provide growth opportunities for teachers who are often unavailable after school or during the day to sit through a workshop.”
Faculty can pick from a menu of course offerings that provide them with choice and flexibility. Participants are awarded badges for each level they complete within courses that guide them from exploration to student integration.
“Titles such as Cultivating Equity, Where's Waldo? A Fantastic Journey into AP/IB Data, Every Jedi's Lightsaber: Teaching Content Area Reading are just some of the offerings that provide quality instruction to enhance classroom practice. But they also offer an element of fun,” explains Christine. “The team of teachers that design and maintain these courses are really the stars. Their willingness to share their expertise makes it all possible. I certainly could not do it on my own.”
Results are Hard to Ignore
“For a school that previously was limited to two staff development days a year, we are thrilled to provide opportunities for teachers that are flexible, provide choice, and can be grown each year,” she adds. “I have a school full of teachers … and I have watched them grow tremendously over the years.”
When instructors improve their skills, it makes a positive impact on students, and the connections made are stronger.
“The [teachers] are all top notch and I believe Schoology has made them even better.”
Instructional Technology Coordinator
Cherokee Trail High School
Educator of the Year Finalist in 2015