April 14, 2014 – In my role as the Instructional Media Specialist with Catholic Telemedia Network (CTN), I have had the opportunity to spend a great amount of time in the diocesan schools. The teachers and administrators I have met throughout my school visits have been very warm and welcoming. I cannot speak highly enough of the faculty members teaching in the diocesan schools. They are full of energy and eager to implement new and engaging strategies and techniques into their lessons.
CTN implemented a new initiative, the Focus School Program, this school year. Focus Schools are chosen to receive tailored attention from CTN. These schools are active users of technology and are eager to implement digital learning, aligned with the Common Core, into their lesson and unit plans. Focus School teachers receive one-on-one support from CTN in the use and integration of our three instructional media services: Learn360, Espresso, and Mathletics. These services contain content aligned with the Common Core and engaging activities for students in grades PreK-8. New schools will be inducted into the Focus School program as it continues beyond this year.
As someone with an extensive background in education, I initially thought the task of implementing the Focus School Program would be easy. Then I placed myself back in the role of the teacher, and I remembered what it was like when those people would come in with their ideas. It seemed like my lunch period or prep time would regularly be interrupted by someone who ever so kindly wanted to share their ideas on how I should teach.
I did not want to be one of those people. Instead, I wanted to be welcomed and perceived as an equal, as the helpful resource, the person who knows where teachers are coming from because I’ve been there. I’ve experienced the headaches of implementing the Common Core; of creating extensive, integrated unit plans; of planning for observations and always being on my toes for the next drop-in.
Once I had this perspective, I was able to make a plan. I began meeting with principals and discussing my background and role as the Instructional Media Specialist for CTN. I discussed the Focus School Program and my interest in collaborating with teachers and curriculum coordinators, with a focus on their individual needs.
The Focus School Program has been going strong for 7 months. The positive feedback from teachers and principals has been unprecedented. It has truly been a rewarding opportunity to work with these schools, and I look forward to seeing how our Focus School Program will continue to grow and support the diocesan learning communities.
Christy Johnson has been visiting diocesan schools and conducting professional development workshops on digital learning techniques. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.