Bright Spots

Teachers Focus on Moving Students Up Two Grade Levels in Reading and Math

Teachers Focus on Moving Students Up Two Grade Levels in Reading and Math
By Chris Barba
May 6, 2019

When educators think and collaborate in new ways, the life of a student can change forever. In February, we launched the Breakthrough Mindset Curriculum with teachers and staff at Toby Farms Middle School. The curriculum uses evidenced-based approaches to build mindsets that promote new levels of student success. Specifically, it equips educators with leadership competencies that help them build a culture of collaboration and trust, drive more effective instruction, and ultimately impact student learning.

Motivated teachers and staff at Toby Farms are working together to disrupt the negative trajectory of student performance on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA). Their goal is to raise math and reading levels by two grades, an ambitious outcome that begins by understanding where educators are focusing.

The middle school principal explains, “The key to success is to focus our efforts on things we desire and not the things we fear. When we talk about change—attendance, grade level, growth—there’s always a mindset.” Teachers and staff unearthed core mindsets at the source of decisions being made in the school and in the classroom. Not only did this support teachers in creating new mindsets that yield different decisions, it is also shifting the school culture and brand.

Some of the innovations happening in the classroom include:

  • An English teacher using rap lyrics to break student’s fear of reading out loud
  • A science teacher using paper airplanes to teach student’s about gravity
  • A special education teacher creating ways for students to partner with and support special needs students
  • Teachers reaching out to parents to share a bright spot about their child’s performance
  • Teachers creating school pep rallies to a bring winning spirit to students preparing to take their state exams

Creating safe spaces for teachers and staff to have meaningful conversations about student success is the underpinning of this program. The school district’s stand is that, ‘Every student and every adult feels valued, cared for, and supported every hour of every day’—a commitment that can transform education for years to come.