Mrs. Kaidor: Professionally, as I develop my lesson plans each week, I make personalized instruction part of my day. This ranges from one-on-one math lessons, to small group comprehension checks, to after school writing labs. The students have diverse needs and my job is to meet those needs. My classroom is learner-centered, which means the students dictate the pace of the learning. Some days we cruise through the planned material and more; other days we dig deep into one idea or concept for a more meaningful understanding. The students leave my classroom as their own personal geniuses: they find their area of expertise or passion and share it. They also learn to take a lesson into the production phase, whether that be a poster, a google slide presentation, or an article published in the newspaper.
I impart the growth mindset in my classroom. Whatever you don’t know today, you can learn. Skills can be developed; knowledge is not fixed. We work towards mastery by challenging ourselves and being okay with failure. Oftentimes I hear students not feeling safe to explore their interests or ask those tough questions in school. In my classroom, I assure it’s a safe place to push your boundaries and explore the unknown. Through hands-on experiences and collaboration, students develop expertise and leadership qualities that will stay with them throughout their futures.
Dr. Oslick: As a parent and a teacher educator, I choose to send my child to St. Barnabas where teachers like Mrs. Kaidor have “adaptive expertise.” Furthermore, I know that the administration supports their teachers and trusts them to develop curriculum that prepares our children for the 21st century. I am delighted when my Kindergarten son sends me a video or picture via Seesaw and then follows up with me at home to make sure I am appropriately impressed. I know that he is receiving instruction that builds on his strengths and challenges him to grow. These are important elements of a 21st century classroom.
Although we all worry about our children’s futures at times, we have confidence in their education and in the expertise of the faculty, staff, and administration at St. Barnabas. With a focus on students and their individual learning, as well as preparing our students to succeed in a multimodal environment, the 21st century is a great time for educators and for students.
Julie Kaidor, 4th grade teacher & middle school mother
Dr. Mary Ellen Oslick, Stetson University education professor & Kindergarten mother
Darling-Hammond, L., Wei, R. C., Andree, A., Richardson, N., & Orphanos, S. (2009). Professional Learning in the Learning Profession: A Status Report on Teacher Development in the United States and Abroad. (https://learningforward.org/docs/default-source/pdf/nsdcstudy2009.pdf)