Treating Teachers as Professionals: From the Eyes of Master Coach Fran McDonough
Master Coach and Beachland Elementary Teacher Fran McDonough
"I am so very thankful that The Learning Alliance created the Master Coach Program for Indian River County," says Beachland Elementary Master Coach Fran McDonough. Originally designed three years ago to give every school an on-site, teacher specialist in Fundations and Sonday programs, the Master Coaching Program has expanded to deepen the teacher skills and knowledge in the whole reading block. Currently there are over 55 teachers and literacy coaches enrolled, with more on the waiting list. When asked about the ongoing benefits of the Sonday and Fundations curriculum, Fran responds, "I have witnessed a great deal of success with students in both programs, I believe, because they are systematic, repetitive, and taught to mastery. Many of the children who are receiving these interventions have rarely felt success in school. It is heartwarming to see the become confident in their learning."
The Master Coach initiative has morphed into something much bigger than its original design of teaching a program. Now, there are monthly, two-and-a-half-hour workshops which offer detailed instruction modules on specific topics. The changes were made at the request of the teachers who wanted to delve deeply into each focus area. "Last year, we did an in-depth study on spelling. We learned how the brain learns to spell, how to conduct assessments to determine a student's current skill level, and how to monitor progress," Fran relates. "We brought it back to the classroom and did a case study on an actual student to apply our learning. Then we were able to share it with our peers." This year's concentration is vocabulary, fluency and implementing Conscious Discipline, an approach that creates a safe and calm environment for learning for children.
As one of the original Master Coaches, Fran exemplifies the dedicated teachers in our county, and shares that, "The Learning Alliance treats teachers as professionals. They truly understand that teachers NEED to be experts in what they are teaching, which requires continuous professional development, similar to continuing education required of doctors or lawyers. The training that I am receiving keeps me effective, learning, and growing. The students in my classroom are the ones who benefit the most because I can use what I learn instantly in the classroom, and it is amazing to see my students' increased progress and confidence!"
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