Teachers honored after obtaining micro-credentials
Those who took courses to help improve student learning awarded
A large group of Calvert County public school teachers were rewarded Dec. 19 for making their classrooms, and themselves, better when they were presented with certificates for completing micro-credentialing courses.
Online courses began in September in Universal Design for Learning and Self Regulation.
“Both of these ideas are educational ideas foundational to help our kids improve access to learning or the curriculum and strictly to engage,” said Steven Van Rees, who leads the UDL course in Calvert County. “They need the principles of Universal Design for Learning, and the principles of Self Regulation for all kids to to learn effectively.”
A total of 18 elementary, middle and high school teachers took the courses, up from just six teachers last year. This is the third time the Self-Regulation course was offered and the first time the UDL course was available.
Four teachers — Huntingtown High School’s Amy Trainor and Dowell Elementary School’s Kelly Hawks, Rebecca Lieshier and Stephanie Schoppert — earned certificates in both courses.
“I’m very proud because these teachers are not taking these courses for any other reason other to improve their practice, which is so important,” Van Rees said. “They’re doing this at night, on weekends, and they’re experimenting with new techniques and strategies for the sole purpose to help their kids, especially those that are traditionally disengaged or who struggle.”
“I’m always looking for new strategies to incorporate into the classroom to really keep the learning fresh for the kids,” said Northern High School English teacher Erin Mathers, who took the Self-Regulation course. She took the UDL course last year. “I haven’t been a kid in a while so I think this might help me to understand where they are and what they need.”
Twelve teachers earned certificates in Self-Regulation and two teachers — Mutual Elementary School’s Kristin Halstead and Mill Creek Middle School’s Amy Hysan — completed the UDL course.
“I became interested in [the UDL course] because I’m always looking for new strategies and new ideas to push my students and get them engaged,” said Hysan, who teaches sixth-grade English and language arts. “I also felt that it was a way to reflect on myself as a teacher, and not just the students because it doesn’t just involve strategies for just the students, it’s about looking at the teacher and how can you represent ideas and how can you get the student engaged. And the second piece was about how do they show you their evidence of learning.”
“Steve came to a leadership committee I was on and presented it to us and it sounded really interesting,” Calvert Middle School special education teacher Lynne Beahm said of the Self-Regulation course. “I really thought the [course] was more on helping kids regulating their behaviors, but I learned through the course it was so much more. I learned that both the students and the teachers can benefit from self-regulation techniques and charts and goal-setting and making smaller objectives to meet those goals, and it just really helped motivate my students. It was neat to see them grow because they wanted to.”
Mathers, who said she did most of the course Sunday afternoons, focused on the reflection aspect of it.
“There are a few different ways to do that, you can do behavioral or academic, so I focused on the academic reflections,” she said. “With some of the lessons I really wanted to see where the kids thought they were with the learning.”
And the teachers said they’ve already implemented some of what they’ve learned in their classrooms.
“So far I’ve found it very helpful because I feel like I’m not putting the kids on the spot,” Mathers said. “If I give them five minutes to fill out the sheet, and after I’ve reassured them I’m not going to hang the sheets on the walls so everybody knows what they don’t understand, they’ve become acclimated to thinking about what we’ve been learning and figure out how to tell me what they understand and what they don’t understand.”
“A lot of the students are on board and they are setting goals and reaching goals,” Beahm said, “and they’re doing it just to reach the goals and not just for an outside reward, but for themselves.”
Hysan said she’s happy she took the course.
“It was just nice to have that reassurance that you are doing the right thing in the classroom,” she said, “and a nice reassurance to give me other strategies to keep thinking and keep reminding me that it’s not always just about using technology and the newest and latest gadget and that choice isn’t just about that.”
Teachers who received certificates for completing the online Self-Regulation and/or Universal Design for Learning courses are Christy Heffner (Plum Point Middle), front row left, Stephanie Schoppert (Dowell Elementary), Kelly Hawks (Dowell Elementary), Rebecca Leishear (Dowell Elementary), Joanne Guy (Student Services), Maria Lendacky Koebele (Sunderland Elementary), back row left, Amy Trainer (Huntingtown High), Joann Bostic (Calvert Country), Lisa Spencer (Plum Point Middle), Erin Mathers (Northern High), Jessica Sher (Huntingtown Elementary, Amy Hysan (Mill Creek Middle), Kim Cianciolo (Huntingtown Elementary, Kristin Hallstead (Mutual Elementary), Victoria Best (Plum Point Elementary) and Lynne Beahm (Calvert Middle). Not pictured are Dona Hook (Plum Point Middle) and Ronnie Morrissey (Patuxent High).
Northern High School’s Erin Mathers, right, receives her certificate for completing the Self-Regulation course from Calvert County Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Diane Workman.
Huntingtown Elementary School’s Kim Cianciolo, right, receives her certificate for completing the Self-Regulation course from Calvert County Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Diane Workman.