Inside Pamela Martin’s Middle School math class at STEM School Highlands Ranch, solving math problems is not always done on paper. With some assignments, the students will toss a ball around the room, calling each other by name and openly debating the equation until the correct answer is announced. The teaching method was developed during a recent professional development and teacher coaching session. The sessions happen at all grade levels and are designed to introduce teachers to new ideas for their classroom and out-of-the-box thinking.
“We learn a lot in college as teachers and I’ve got my Master’s too and I learned a lot there, ” Martin said. “But once you walk out of the college doors the learning can stop if you don’t have professional development and coaches.”
Martin is one of the newer teachers at STEM, having been hired in early 2021. Michelle Gasser, Director of Professional Development at STEM, says the school’s professional development and in-house coaches make STEM unique.
“Most schools do not have a coaching model like this,” Gasser said. “Most schools have one or two coaches for maybe the entire school, or they do a coaching model where they have teachers coaching on their plan time and it’s more of a mentor role. What we do as coaches is we go in and we will co-teach with teachers, we will plan with teachers. Sometimes we do targeted observations and give feedback on the goals that teachers have set at the beginning of the year.”
Martin says she has found great value in the coaching sessions and hears the same from other teachers at STEM.
“It’s really important for someone to come in and give you real-time data and help you learn and grow and then continue to support you because we have so much to do as teachers inside and outside of the classroom,” Martin said. “Going and doing research on the newest teaching methods and going out there and searching for the things that we need is not always top on our priority and we don’t always have time for that.”
Click the video below to watch the full feature.