ISA’s July Newsletter

By Abner Oakes

ISA's Director of Outreach


Sign Up for Our August 4 Webinar: Preparing for This Fall: The District’s Tech Toolkit

In response to the remote learning measures taken in response to COVID-19, schools and districts are working hard to improve technology access and implementation. This webinar, the fourth in our series related to teaching and learning during the pandemic, discusses the strategies necessary to determine why and how to streamline what goes into your school’s or district’s tech toolkit. Streamlining the toolkit allows learning to focus on the standards taught, rather than measuring technological fluency.

As this webinar will illustrate, educators already demonstrate this capacity in other areas, and so the key will be to transfer thinking and planning to the “new normal” of virtual learning. The webinar will feature the following presenters:

The webinar will be held on August 4, 2020, at 3 pm ET. Click here to register.

ISA’s Virtual Offerings for Schools & Districts

ISA continues to develop professional learning modules that we can deliver synchronously or asynchronously to teachers, school leaders, district personnel, and other educators. These modules are in two-hour blocks, are focused on helping all educators become better at virtual teaching, and cover a range of topics including mathematics, special education, leadership, and supporting English language learners.

For example, want to learn how to use the online tool GeoGebra to help your mathematics students during a virtual class? ISA’s Nate Dilworth can show you; see a brief snippet of what this tool can do here. As another example, click below to see ISA coach Leslie Calabrese detail the tech tool Padlet, which she shares with special education teachers.

View Our June 30 Webinar:
Making Virtual Learning Manageable

ISA’s third webinar addressed teaching and learning during COVID-19; click here to access it. It featured the following presenters:

  • Dr. Keith Look, ISA’s Senior Director for District Services and a Google for Education Certified Trainer
  • Dr. Bruce Campbell, Jr., Associate Professor and Director of the Educational Leadership Masters and Supervisory Certification Programs, School of Education, Arcadia University, Glenside, PA

In this webinar, Bruce and Keith discussed lessons learned from the spring’s virtual learning efforts, along with easy-to-follow improvements to make great leaps forward in the fall’s likely implementation.

Webinar attendees also learned about ISA’s Simplify.Pattern.Train model for smart approaches to virtual learning and technology integration.

Meet ISA Instructional Coach Terry Born

Terry Born worked in New York City’s public schools for 36 years, starting in a middle school in the Bronx’s Fort Apache neighborhood and spending her last 12 years as principal of Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Secondary School of Arts and Technology in Queens. After being introduced to the power of theater as a teaching tool in the early days of her career, she created the Bongo Theater Traveling Herd program in collaboration with Paul Jablon, a science teacher. Their innovative and highly effective approach to using content to inspire original dramatic productions written and produced by high school students has influenced both her teaching and coaching. Terry has taught at LaGuardia Community College and Bank Street College of Education Principals’ Institute, has presented workshops and presentations around the country, and has for the past 16 years been a coach for ISA and the Middle College National Consortium.

What teacher of yours do you feel most impacted your coaching approach? Why?
When I try to answer that question, I’m surprised that I really have to think hard to remember teachers who have a direct connection to either my teaching or coaching. But I keep going back to an experience I had in junior high school in an American history class. It was during the Kennedy-Nixon presidential election, and we spent weeks working alone and in groups researching and creating presentations about which candidate would make the better president. I remember that it was the first time that I, an 11-year-old girl, was put in charge of my thinking and learning. It was the first time that I felt I owned what I learned and that someone had enough confidence in my abilities to leave me to do a “great” job. That moment became an intuitive part of my work, whether teaching students or working with adults. I begin with high expectations and look for the nugget that can turn into gold. I work hard to communicate that to the people I coach and believe that they can make their classrooms places where students are curious, hard-working, and fully engaged.

What do you enjoy most about your coaching work?
When I retired as a principal, I anticipated a tremendous letdown as I left the school I had founded and developed. I found, almost immediately, that coaching had the benefits of being a grandparent. As a principal or school leader, one is always looked on with some suspicion or fear. As a coach, I had no opposition. I could share ideas and support good work, all without demanding. I’ve been so fortunate to work with amazing school leaders and wonderful, innovative teachers. I find that it has enabled me to grow and understand the way we use technology as a teaching tool, the need for greater equity in our practice and curriculum, and so much more. My greatest days are those when I see something brilliant in a classroom and can bring it to a school in another location. Pollinating more good work is a gift that coaching has given me.

What was your most memorable moment with a student or students when you were teaching?
Teaching has been a joy in my life. There are so many students and so many stories. The girl who never read a book and thanked me for introducing her to Shakespeare. The year I undertook to teach Crime and Punishment by having students illustrate each chapter. The boy who gave me an electric knife for Christmas and told me he had stolen it from a truck. But my years working with my theater students were special. The journey we took together was so rich and so deep and changed all of our lives. We shared deep sorrow and pain and unbelievable joy as we wrote, produced, and performed original work three times each year. Before each performance, we had a ritual where we would silently pass a bottle of juice or can of soda around a circle and hold hands, culminating in a loud roar of our name, Bongo. We had a pair of overalls which was given, like the Oscar, to the person in the class who had contributed most to the production. After the last show, the last holder of the overalls bequeathed it to the next, placing a memento of their play on the pants. These rituals defined a community that had worked hard, sacrificed, and completed something together. That is what we want from all meaningful learning experiences: Belonging, commitment, growth, and a sense that you are part of something that has a past and a future.

What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Stracciatella, which I ate in a gelateria in Perugia, Italy.