Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Teaching Teachers to Teach

Blogger's Note: The following is an article that will appear in an upcoming edition of the Pottsgrove School District newsletter, but which was provided to us by the author, Beth Trepani.

Pottsgrove's Krista Rundell
During the school year, most school-aged children spend more time with their teachers and classmates than they do with their parents.  Pottsgrove curriculum and instruction coach, Krista Rundell, says it’s that very fact that has driven her to focus the powerful impact educators can have on students’ lives.

Rundell has been selected as just one of 26 educators from around the country to participate in a national education association’s Emerging Leaders program. It’s goal is to prepare educators to influence education programs, policy and practice on the local and national levels.  The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) chose Rundell based on her application, experience, goals, and recommendations from other educators.

“Everyone in education has the opportunity to impact and guide children on their path to becoming a successful adult and citizen,” says Rundell. “Teaching gives us the opportunity to let our youth hone their strengths, identify and develop areas of improvement, and help them realize they can make an impact and achieve their dreams.”

Rundell focuses on what is known as a Whole Child approach to learning. “All students need to feel physically and emotionally safe, to have their views heard, and to feel valued,” says Rundell. “A teacher must establish positive, professional relationships with students and create safe environments in which learning, sharing, and exploring can prosper.  Research supports this correlation – when students feel supported and valued, student achievement improves.”

Rundell served as a coordinator for Pottsgrove’s Student Assistance Program for several years, helping students who had a wide range of emotional and social concerns.  Five years ago, she co-created a student leadership organization that promoted a drug- and alcohol-free lifestyle and educated teenagers on various lifestyle topics.

In her current role, Rundell focuses on helping teachers develop curriculum and focus their teaching. She works with them in selecting research-based instructional strategies and developing ways to evaluate students so that teachers can best determine what each student needs to learn and grow. Prior to this she served as an instructional technology coach, helping teachers develop the most effective lessons and teaching practices possible while incorporating technology.  She began her career as a social studies teacher.

Rundell, 34, is a Pottsgrove graduate who is now working alongside many of the teachers who helped support and educate her as a student.  She earned her Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education Social Studies from Penn State University and her Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Kutztown University. She has two boys, ages 10 and 7.

“Pottsgrove is at the front end of curriculum alignment to prepare for the rigorous tests coming down the line,” says Rundell. “This District remains committed to educating the Whole Child and strives to create a safe, caring environment where academic achievement can flourish.  The teachers, staff and administrators are willing to go above and beyond to provide a sound educational foundation that will ensure our children’s success in this constantly evolving society.”

That evolution is the biggest challenge in education, she says. “Our profession is undergoing and needs to undergo a drastic change in order to prepare our children academically, socially and emotionally for what they will encounter in the 21st century world.  The days of students at desks in rows, with a teacher talking at them in front of chalkboard filled with notes is long gone.  Our children are expected to be creative, solve problems, think critically, communicate and collaborate positively with others, and be able to score proficiently on numerous rigorous standardized tests.   We need to foster the qualities that will ensure their success – and that change.”

The ASCD Emerging Leaders program will have Rundell attend a conference in July with other ASCD leaders to begin a two-year program where she will be exposed to new ideas, resources and best practices.  She will identify a leadership area, such as the Whole Child and Staff Development, and with the help of a designated mentor, and develop and implement an action plan related to that area.

“I enjoy participating in dialogue that leads to a more refined understanding of educational ideas that can help to improve our schools, enhance our curriculum, and support our students,” says Rundell. “I am seeking a community of educators that promotes synergy, desires to be an agent of change, and is committed to the professional and personal growth of students and colleagues.  My hope is to have an opportunity to find this community within the Emerging Leaders program.”

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