Earlier this month Southport Elementary School and our Board of Education hosted Reps. Bob Behning, Cindy Kirchhofer and Mike Speedy and Sen. Jack Sandlin and gave them a firsthand look into the instruction techniques of our teachers. Our legislators arrived at the school one morning before students to observe our educators participating in one of their weekly professional development sessions.
As an enthusiastic partner of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, we believe that effective teachers are the most important school-based factor impacting student achievement. Therefore, professional development is a critical part of our teacher growth strategy. Our lawmakers were able to see how teachers support and advise one another regarding what methods resonate with students.
Legislators were able to get a glimpse into how teachers work to address educational challenges, including a large student population, a language learning curve and Title I status – a designation that supports students from low-income families.
The lawmakers were invited to ask teachers about their personal experience with laws and policies that impact education across the state. Teachers were able to share their hope for the future.
Following the panel discussion each legislator was invited to sit in a class so they could witness our teachers in action. The legislators were given the opportunity to observe project-based learning, which is being rolled out this year at Southport Elementary, in partnership with Magnify Learning.
Project-based learning empowers groups of students to use knowledge and skills to answer a question or solve a problem collaboratively through critical thinking, communication and creativity. These skills will help make students employable in the future.
Our goal is not to simply prepare students to pass exams. Instead, we are preparing scholars, even our youngest students, to contribute to the real world in meaningful ways. Giving our legislators the opportunity to observe this approach to education will allow them to see how instruction has evolved over time.
We are encouraged by the time spent with our lawmakers, who are truly committed to the education of children. We look forward to continuing our productive conversations to help inform policies to improve education across Indiana.