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“Stop Learning Loss in its Tracks” Part 2 with teacher panelists

May 14, 2021 Teach to One

What should a future-thinking, equitable classroom in the recovery-era look like? How do we assess unfinished learning and provide data-driven instruction? How can teachers tailor the classroom experience to meet the unique needs of each and every student? In part one of this webinar, we hear from Joel Rose on redefining what’s possible in math education. In part two of our “Stop Learning Loss in its Tracks” webinar, we hear from three educators on how Teach to One has empowered them to address the learning pathways of each and every student in their classroom. Watch the recording, beginning at minute sixteen, or read a copy of the webinar below.

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Teacher panelist introductions

Travis Larrier: We’ll now turn things over to our amazing panel of educators that have been gracious enough with their time to join us today. We have Amanda Martinez who is a math teacher and director at Taos Middle School in Taos, New Mexico. Teryn Kim, an upper grade math lab teacher from Gray Elementary School in Chicago; and Grace Bailey, an instructional coach with Memphis Scholars in Memphis, Tennessee. So if each of the panelists could sort of briefly introduce themselves and talk a bit about their student population, that would be great, and then we’ll jump into some questions. So Amanda, why don’t we start with you.

Amanda Martinez: Yeah, like Travis said my name is Amanda Martinez. We have been doing Teach to One 360 in our middle school for about four years. We have about 470 students at our school. We’re what we call a “walls up” model, and so our kids, we don’t have a big space for our kids to rotate throughout so we have different classrooms that they visit when they do the Teach to One program. Yeah, and our school, we’re a rural school in Taos, New Mexico. Our whole county is 30,000 people. So not very big at all, but that’s a little bit about us.

Travis Larrier: Awesome, thank you so much. Teryn?

Teryn Kim: My name is Teryn Kim and I am in Chicago, Illinois, Gray Elementary School. We have been using TTO for nine years, and I’ve been part of this program for eight years now, and it’s been a life saver for our school because, as Joel mentioned, it really helped us close the gap and fill the gaps that students have as they move up to the middle school. Teach to One has also helped us with our population. We have, and I wrote this down so I don’t mess this up, we have 84% of low income, 85% Latinx/Hispanic population, 31% English language learners and 15% diverse learners. We will probably get some questions specifically about English language learners and diverse learners and at that time I will give you examples of some success stories.

Travis Larrier: Awesome, and Grace?

Grace Bailey: Yeah, hi, I’m Grace Bailey. I am serving as an instructional coach and the math director for Teach to One at Memphis Scholars. We are an organization that operates two public charter schools in Memphis, Tennessee. Our student population is predominantly black and predominantly economically disadvantaged students. I have the unique perspective of being new to my school this year and also having our school be new to Teach to One this year. So we have done an entirely virtual implementation of Teach to One and had the opportunity to tackle all the questions that come with how doing effective and equitable virtual instruction can happen with the opportunity to use the tools and resources available for Teach to One to really make sure that’s happening in our fifth grade through eighth grade math classrooms.

A personalized approach to math during the pandemic

Travis Larrier: Awesome, thank you so much. So first question for the group: what did the Teach to One model look like in your classroom before the pandemic, and how have you maintained Teach to One’s personalized approach, sort of, even during the pandemic?

Amanda Martinez: I can start that one off. So like I said, we have a “walls up” model at our school. So we have eight different classrooms that our students can visit on a given day. So they come into their math advisory class, kind of like a homeroom, check in, and then move around and get an individualized lesson for that day. We have tried to keep that as much as possible during the pandemic. Our district started with only allowing us to do days of online instruction, like, face-to-face instruction, and everything was meant to be asynchronous, they had to do it on their own. The program is designed so that the student always has an individualized lesson at their fingertips. They can watch videos, they can do practice problems, they can play games, they can do everything around this skill that was specifically set for them and then take their exit slip after they are done. So that’s a little bit about how we modified it.

Teryn Kim: So we are very lucky to have the space. We don’t have any walls, it’s a very huge, open space divided by bookshelves and it’s, at the time it was, state of the art. It is aging a little bit, but still, we’re very lucky to have that big space, and within that space we have five math teachers, so six sections. So five sections for math advisory, like a math homeroom, and the middle section is used for, of course teaching, usually small group, but that’s where we also have our special education teachers. We have five main teachers with two special education teachers, and we work together like clockwork. We’re a great team and we still do work as a team, but differently than we used to.

Teryn Kim: As Amanda mentioned, when students came into our classroom, they will check their schedule and they will disperse to their skill group and they were taught by a different teacher every session which was a huge plus because to hear the same lesson presented differently also helped the students. The task is the more or less a grade level skill, so it was a very dynamic setting where students owned their own learning.

Teryn Kim: With the pandemic things changed. Chicago Public Schools, we went full-out remote, so we had to do some major changes. One was, because we have so many students, about 120-some students, five teachers, remotely mixing them up was not going to happen. So what ended up happening is each teacher having a set of students and keeping them, and that was fine for the grade level skill but for individualized pathway skills it became more of a video lesson because sometimes I have 15 different skills going on at the same time so I couldn’t instruct them individually but what I did do, luckily we have synchronous time and asynchronous time, I took the asynchronous time and I’m able to do more of a one-on-one tutoring, which actually, if you look at it a certain way, is sometimes more helpful. So students are still able to maintain their individualized pathway and get direct teaching from me for the task grade level things.

Assessing unfinished learning in math

Travis Larrier: Awesome, thank you so much. Next question, can you all speak to how you’ve been able to assess unfinished learning and how helpful that’s been in providing data driven instruction? Grace, I’m wondering if you wouldn’t mind taking this one?

Grace Bailey: Sure, yes, I couldn’t speak as much to the last question because we, as I mentioned, were not implementing Teach to One before this year. So we’ve had the opportunity to do an entirely virtual implementation and in thinking about how we assess, I do think it’s important to share the context that we have been fully synchronous virtual. So our students are in Teach to One classrooms, they still go into breakout rooms and do the small group teacher led lessons. They still do the tasks or more project-based lessons that have been mentioned in addition to the individualized virtual learning that is tailored to each student. So we’ve worked very hard to kind of put a stake in the ground and say, we’re going to give students as much as we could, as much of what we would give them live while still in a virtual setting.

Grace Bailey: In terms of assessing unfinished learning, I think my question toward the end of the year is how would we have even done this without Teach to One’s tools and resources? We gave NWEA’s MAP, and that along with the Teach to One diagnostic helped start the tailored acceleration path for our students, but having those daily exit tickets and being able to assess at the end of each lesson cycle, whether it’s an individualized lesson or one of those live investigations with the teacher, being able to assess daily what part of that lesson students mastered and where they still need additional skills, really has made us able to do that driven instruction this year and has given us the opportunity to meet students where they are and figure out how to scaffold lessons for particular skills, figure out what students need in the next lesson.

Grace Bailey: So I would say the tools that Teach to One have provided have really helped us assess that unfinished learning and then know where to go next, both the lessons are set by the Teach to One algorithm but for teachers to know how to really tailor those lessons to the individual student needs, those exit tickets have been invaluable.

Blended and personalized learning as a tool for equity

Travis Larrier: Awesome, thank you, thank you so much. Next question, this is a big one for this session: how has a blended learning approach and personalized learning changed your classroom to become and be more equitable?

Amanda Martinez: I’ll start that one if that’s all right. So our middle school is a feeder school for three different elementary schools. So what we were seeing is we were getting kids all over the place. They had different elementary school teachers that had different, like, a scale of different comfortableness around teaching math. So we were getting some students that were great at math and some that needed a lot of work at math. So to have this personalized learning has changed everything for us. Our scores had kind of plateaued. We weren’t seeing any gains in our MAP testing, any short cycle assessments that we were taking, we weren’t seeing any gains, we kind of were stuck and since we started Teach to One 360 it has totally changed our environment. Not only are we seeing those great gains in our MAP testing but we’re seeing a different, I guess, comfortableness with math.

Amanda Martinez: These kids came in and they hated math. When you start the school year and you ask them, these kids did not like math at all, and at the end of the year they realized that they could do the math. Every kid is seeing successes at least weekly, if not daily, because it’s tailored to them, it’s at their level. So when they get the lesson that they need, they’re able to show progress on their exit slips and that just does wonders for their enthusiasm for math and for their, just, for their attitude all around. So to be able to meet every student where they’re at and for every kid to be able to have those successes, it’s changed our whole dynamic around math for our school.

Amanda Martinez: So it’s just been a total game changer for everyone and I honestly, doing Teach to One 360 for the last four years, it kind of made me realize how much of a disservice I was doing before all of this by teaching just to that middle group. I was kind of neglecting my top scorers and really neglecting those ones that were really struggling because the majority of them were right in that middle. So yeah it’s totally changed the teacher’s outlook, it’s changed the student’s outlook, and made everybody more of a math-lover.

Travis Larrier: That’s amazing. I’m actually wondering if any of our other panelists want to weigh into that question. Sort of, how is Teach to One, and just an approach to blended learning, just made your classroom a more equitable environment?

Teryn Kim: I want to speak a little bit about, everyone’s talking about the students who come unprepared and who have gaps, and that is absolutely true because math is a cumulative subject and it’s like a building block. If you don’t have the foundational skills, it’s really difficult to build. So it goes without saying, I mean, I don’t even have to mention it again, that all these students that come with gaps are able to fill them with their own timeline, own pathway. So that’s great, but on the flip side, we have had students that are so high, that we could not address. Students who are doing, on an individual basis, they are way beyond algebra. What do you do with them? It could be one or two or three kids, but you have to address them. So as much as we help the lower kids fill the gaps, we also do that at the higher end and that’s been great. When they go to high school they come back to me, and not just one or two kids, many come back and they thank the math teachers because now they’re taking Calculus, AP Calculus, and they’re only Juniors, or I mean, these are the success stories because of Teach to One.

Grace Bailey: I think, in my mind, a big piece of academic equity is — knowing that we’ve spoken about students having gaps — knowing that students can name, and understand, and say what their own gaps are and what their strengths are, and we’ve spoken a lot about the data that teachers can see. I just wanted to make the point that we’ve been able to teach our students how to use the Teach to One portal and see their own resources and a lot of it is very student-friendly because they see shiny sparkly green when they do really well on an exit ticket, they see yellow or they see red, room for growth, and they’re able to see how many points they’ve earned and access a skill library of other skills that would be just right for them to work on, on their own time or whenever they have the opportunity to do that. So we focused a lot on academic ownership in our school this year and how to make that really possible in a virtual setting.

Grace Bailey: So I wanted to say that Teach to One has really played an important role in students being able to own their own learning and truly use the time before an assessment to say, okay, here are the two skills that I really need to go back and review before I take this assessment. I know exactly where to find this, so now I could tell someone, “this is what I’m working on in math class right now, this is what I need to learn, here’s another skill that I’ve got because I see green and I know this is something I can do and don’t need to practice anymore right now.”

Social-emotional learning in schools and school communities

Travis Larrier: Thank you all for your responses to that question, really important topic. Next question is, how has Teach to One and its approach sort of impacted or supported social emotional learning efforts at your school and in your school community?

Teryn Kim: I can speak to that a little bit. I don’t think there is a definitive SEL program but I also, having said that, I also think it’s built in. Certain aspects of Teach to One lend itself to support social emotional well-being of students because, think about the students sitting in a classroom with all those gaps. So sitting in a classroom, you don’t understand anything the teacher is saying. Imagine how they feel, how dejected they feel. Well, they don’t have to feel like that anymore. So they go in, not only are they given the skills that they need to fill those gaps, but they’re mixed in with kids, in our school’s case, when we’re in person we have 120 students, just because you’re high in reading does not mean you’re great at math as well. So you’re being mixed in with all the different kids and you’re being taught by a different teacher so you’re not singled out. You’re not being pulled out, you’re not singled out, so you feel like you belong. You belong to your peer group.

Teryn Kim: As Grace said, you see those sparkly greens whenever you have a success. They are accountable for their own learning every single day and there’s a milestone every single day so almost like a new start every day which just, mentally, is a huge thing when you get to start over and not carry that burden of not doing well or not having done well.

Amanda Martinez: Just to add to that, as well, our students, and we call them our students, all 470 kids rotate through our rooms and so all six of our teachers and two educational assistants, we know our kids so well. There may be a kid that may not connect with me very well, but they’re not stuck with me all day either; or they’re not stuck with me for 90 minutes in my math class. They rotate through other teachers and they build connections. They’ll build a connection maybe with another teacher and so the program lends itself to, just, you know, always give these kids a different environment so they feel comfortable. They connect with at least one person in the math department, and we know so much about every student, which didn’t happen before.

Effective and empowering teaching practices

Travis Larrier: Awesome, thank you so much. As a teacher, how has Teach to One empowered you and your colleagues, and how has it made your teaching practices either different or more effective?

Amanda Martinez: So I know for us, we’re a really tight knit group. Our group, our teachers, we support each other, we meet every day to discuss students, to discuss lessons, but one thing that Teach to One has done is, it’s taken all that data that we don’t have time to compile and go through and it’s given us more defined purpose. So when I teach a lesson, I know that those students need that lesson. It’s a specific lesson but it’s still my teaching. I design the lesson, I know how my students learn best, I know what I could do to help them in that skill.

Amanda Martinez: So it’s kind of given us more purpose, more focus on what we’re teaching and kind of taken the data collection and trying to sort through the kids that know it and don’t, and taken that off of our plate. So that’s been really empowering to give us the platform to just teach and to know that, that’s what we’re teaching and we can focus on that skill on that particular day.

Teryn Kim: You know, I just remember being in a classroom and trying to differentiate. I spent so much time trying to go through the data, go through who needs what and trying to pay attention to every kid, and it was an impossible task, and Teach to One does that for us and it saves us so much time and effort and because we see everybody we also know, if I have a kid who is not in my math advisory or homeroom, I still know that he or she learns best if I taught it this way. So you still have that connection even though that child does not belong to you in the homeroom or math advisory so you have that relationship. I also know from Teach to One data that the student needs this lesson, this concept. So it makes it, I mean, I’ve become a more effective teacher to benefit the students.

Stories of student progress with Teach to One

Travis Larrier: That’s great, and I’m wondering, in our last five minutes here with our phenomenal panelists (thank you all so much again for joining us), could each of you share a story about a student you’ve reached or who has shown progress through utilizing Teach to One?

Amanda Martinez: So one student that comes to mind is our very first group of students that got Teach to One 360 for three years in a row. They’re Freshmen at the high school and our students were typically going to high school not ready for algebra. There was an algebra pre-Teach to One, there was an algebra class, but it was still addressing all those gaps, so it wasn’t truly an algebra class that made them ready for geometry when they went to high school. So there was a student in particular when we started, when he was in sixth grade, he was about two to two and a half grade levels below what he should have been as a sixth grader.

Amanda Martinez: Through the program, he learned to love math, started doing everything that he needed to do, he was engaged and taking those exit slips and really put in this effort and he is now a geometry student at Taos High as a Freshman, which was kind of unheard of. He passed the test and that was with two weeks of the pandemic affecting our last few weeks of school last year. He still was able to test into a geometry class and he’s doing great at the high school right now. So that was a huge success story that we’re really happy to have.

Teryn Kim: I’ll give two examples very quickly. We had a diverse learner who obviously was not getting what she needed until she came to the middle school and had the Teach to One program. She was phenomenal, we filled all the gaps, she took algebra her eighth grade year and she is currently taking geometry Freshman year, and this is a diverse learner, okay? Then the other end, we had a student who came to us, transferred from another school, who repeated and she lacked confidence. She just didn’t know, she just had so many holes. We were able to fill all that, she’s in eighth right now and she is one of the most confident. And I’m not saying that it’s easy for her, but she knows that all the skills that she’s getting, if she learns it, are going to give her a leg up on other students. She knows that hard work pays off and that’s going to carry her through high school. So two examples.

Grace Bailey: As I’m working mainly at the teacher coaching level, I just wanted to share a quick anecdote about how we’re looking at that and what growth we’ve been able to see because we have so many data points from Teach to One. Our task was to think, how can we triangulate all of this data and see who are the students who need even more focus. So we began the year looking at attendance, and exit ticket performance, and assessment performance within the Teach to One rounds and we found this subset of students who were present virtually every day, they were putting in the effort every day, and we weren’t seeing the academic growth, the scores on assessments that we would want to see, they were still scoring below 70%.

Grace Bailey: So by focusing a little bit more on what was happening individually with those students, having some math advisory time where teachers could focus with those students, we were able to move everyone out of that category and now see that the students who are attending and completing their work, no one is still in that category of not performing at the level we wanted to see.

Grace Bailey: So I just wanted to share that, I know it’s not a specific one student, but that group data that we’ve been able to see for students has been really exciting.

Supports for students with special needs, English language learners

Travis Larrier: Thank you so much, and thank you so much to all of our panelists today for sharing their stories and their experiences. We’re going to jump to some of the questions that we see in the chat. One that I’ve seen come up quite a bit that I’m hoping our panelists can answer is: what are supports for students with special needs and English language learners in Teach to One?

Amanda Martinez: So in our program, what we have done is we’ve included the special education math teacher. So she sees her kids, she gets her kids at the beginning in her math advisory. She has a chance to meet with them, check in with them, see what they’re working on and see which kids might need more support that day and then when they break out to their sessions, she walks around and supports as they’re working. So that has been very helpful. For English language learners, we use Google Translate a lot. There are a couple of our teachers that are bilingual and so they’re in their math advisory class so that way they can connect with them as well and see if they might need some more support during their sessions.

Teryn Kim: We pretty much have the same set up. We have two math special education teachers in the math lab, however we do not have them separated from the main group, they are integrated into our regular math advisories and we have a EL group and we do have diverse learners integrated so the SPED teacher goes into that homeroom and works as a co-teacher and for tasks, some diverse learners need extra boost from the teacher, extra help from the teacher, but most of the students do pretty well on their own. And we do have bilingual teachers who can speak Spanish because our 85% or 84% of our population is Spanish-speaking. So that’s very helpful to have someone who can speak their language.

Travis Larrier: Thank you so much. Next question, this is a question that comes up from teachers a lot in my partnership work that I do. How much prep is needed to review student performance assessments et cetera and adjust for the next day’s lesson, and can and do teachers plan in advance from more than just the next day? So if you could all speak to just, sort of, what is the daily prep for a teacher in this very dynamic sort of personalized environment, where things are changing every day in response to each student’s specific needs?

Teryn Kim: I can speak to that, so I’ve been teaching for eight years in the Teach to One setting and let me just tell you in the beginning there’s a lot of work because you are teaching, you don’t know the range, the ability range is so wide, you could be teaching a third grade skill to a sixth or seventh grader. But when you get a high student, you may be teaching trigonometry. So in the beginning, you just have to know your stuff. But as time goes by, it’s amazing how much you know, it’s amazing how [broad] your portfolio becomes, your brain is like a multi-drawer unit and you just have them all in there.

Teryn Kim: So as time goes by, the planning time becomes less and less, more about how I’m going to deliver this because I have these students who learn this way. So that becomes more of the planning rather than the content itself. Does that make sense?

Amanda Martinez: And for us, we have our planning period is for our first period so we have it built into our matrix that we have planning every morning. So we don’t really know what we’re going to be teaching the next day until about 4:30 the night before. So most of us don’t plan in the evenings because we all have our families, and that’s our family time, so it really is the morning that we take, and kind of what like Teryn was saying, the content is important but it’s more important to look at the students that you have; and all the data is right there so you open up the page, you can see how the kids did, the next day, if this is a first time that they’re seeing this skill, if this is maybe second time or third time that they need this skill. So you’re going to teach it differently depending on the kids that you have in there, what “try” [number] this is for those kids, so it’s really more student-focused and you just kind of take whatever your teaching knowledge that you’ve brought with you over the years. You just bring that into your lesson.

Amanda Martinez: There are also lessons built into Teach to One that you could use that are there if you need them. So there are videos, there’s vocabulary, there’s a bunch of different resources that you can use to build your list and a lot of times what we do for those lessons, we just build the quick PowerPoint and it’s vocabulary, it’s just, you know, everything that we need those kids to learn in that half an hour and some practice problems and that’s how we build our lesson. So it’s actually become quicker over the years, but it really is student-focused.