TOWNSHEND — Changes are coming to Leland & Gray Union Middle and High School’s classroom culture.
“Overall, there’s a real push for individual students to be more in control of their learning and we want the students to feel empowered to make choices and to guide their learning and to be enthusiastic about what they are interested in,” said Johanna Liskowsky-Doak, who’s involved in what administrators are calling a “transformation” in the middle school. “I think in general, in education, that’s where everyone is heading and we are fortunate to have guidance from someone who has experience doing this in other schools around the state.”
Liskowsky-Doak, who has been a science teacher at Leland & Gray for seven years, is now one of two instructional coaches at the school. She’s tasked with co-teaching in classrooms and facilitating professional development.
The school has partnered with Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education, which Principal Bob Thibault describes as an initiative to support middle schools through the University of Vermont. “They work with middle schools who are trying to reinvent themselves,” he said.
The institute’s goals are around “personalized learning, proficiency and flexible pathways,” said Liskowsky-Doak. “They basically set up a three-year relationship with a school and they spend those three years providing professional development virtually for free for the school as part of the program. They have a coach who comes down and works with the middle school team in reinventing themselves.”
Liskowsky-Doak said she is mostly working with teachers assessing and analyzing how students are performing in classes. Another focus is on how the instruction is matching up with students’ needs.
With an eye on these areas, the idea is to design lesson plans and activities.
“I’ve been part of the middle school team for years so I’m sort of naturally fit to guide them with all the new initiatives we have happening,” said…