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Professional Development and Engaging Student Learning


Lyle BennettRio Lindo Adventist Academy has a strong tradition of creating an atmosphere of learning, both to students and teachers alike.  In the past three years, Rio’s school improvement plan has emphasized the importance of collaborative learning and the sharing of ideas to strengthen one’s education.

This school year, teachers spent more time on professional development than any previous year.  With the help of educational consultants provided by a grant from the Commonweal Foundation, teachers were able to learn about national standards, assessing students to make sure they understand class content, and what the Common Core is and how it factors into our education as a nation.  Teachers spent a total of 40 hours throughout the 2012-2013 school year in meetings to discuss and practice exercises in measurable learning.

In addition to meeting with consultants, teachers met bi-weekly to share ideas with each other about what is and isn’t working in the classroom.  Teachers were able to share strategies about how individual students learn best.

Rio teachers brainstorm
At one teacher in-service meeting, Rio teachers brainstormed
examples of what a Rio classroom should and shouldn’t look like.

History teacher, Lynden Chapman, was challenged teaching historical primary sources to one of his students who tended to zone out asked to read lengthy articles.  Mr. Chapman asked his teacher collaboration group for advice in how to better engage this student in reading and research.  Through conversation and sharing from his colleagues, Mr. Chapman offered an alternate assignment to the student to draw what the primary source was feeling and seeing in the reading, and the student was able to better grasp the assignment.

“I’m still learning things in my field, especially when communicating and collaborating with other teachers.  Some of the young teachers can bring out something that many of us who have been teaching longer wouldn’t have seen and vice versa,” says Mr. Chapman.

Vice Principal, Lyle Bennett and English teacher Jennifer Schmidt lead out the learning improvement plan with teachers.  As lead teachers, Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Schmidt meet with teachers to implement classroom strategies for improved student learning. Teachers then collaborate on evaluating the effectiveness of the instruction and to improve their teaching.
“It’s exciting to be a part of learning community where student learning comes first,” says Mr. Bennett.

One of the results of the past three years of data gathering has shown that the longer a student attends Rio, the higher their standardized test scores are.

Rio’s ultimate goal in teaching is to maximize every student’s potential, no matter the background; to make student thinkers and not mere reflectors of others’ opinions. This Seventh-day Adventist educational mission continues to drive Rio Lindo Adventist Academy’s vision and work.





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