MA in Educational Leadership Helps Expand Teaching Toolbox
Master’s program in educational leadership helps expand teaching toolbox
Christina Grassi ’20 MA is passionate about learning – inspiring her fourth and fifth graders to learn, challenging themselves to learn, and coaching her peers as they strengthen their teaching strategies. She studied the science behind creating effective math lessons, and she puts it into practice at Garnet Valley Elementary School.
During her second year of teaching in the Garnet Valley School District, Christina decided to enroll in Immaculata’s Masters in Educational Leadership program. She noted that the fully online courses were tailored to a teacher’s schedule. “I could do things at my own pace, when I felt energetic enough to finish something! She laughs. She also enjoyed the seven-week crash courses, allowing her to focus on one course at a time. “The program is manageable,” she commented, adding that taking a few summer schooling allowed her to complete master’s and math coaching approval in just a year and a half.
In addition to the convenience, Christina appreciated the learning opportunities offered by the small classes. “The close community with other educators marked me,” she noted. “I was looking forward to hearing more perspectives from different districts and teachers with a greater level of experience than me. Many of Christina’s teachers had served as principals or vice-principals, “at the heart of education,” she reflected.
Christina’s studies at IU coincided with her decision to partner with another teacher to write a new fifth grade math curriculum. “I thought it would be a good experience to gain some professional development,” she said. “I was able to be a leader and help teachers think about teaching math. “
Christina gained more leadership experience through her Principles of Coaching course. “I knew I wanted to be a leader in my district, and this course gave me the tools I needed to help me achieve that goal,” she said. The course provided advice on good coaching communication, and Christina applied this knowledge as she coached colleagues, collaborating with them to plan lessons, examine data to improve student performance, and try new strategies for training. ‘education.
Through a Math Teaching Strategies course, Christina expanded her teaching toolbox with innovative ideas, such as running math records. In this method, teachers observe students individually as they solve math problems to see what strategies the students are using. This helps teachers see where students are in their thinking process, how well they have mastered the math facts and where they are struggling, and provides clues as to what can help students progress.
Traditionally, math teachers invite students to look at them and then imitate them to solve problems. However, explained Christina, educators are now turning to a mathematics workshop model in which teachers often observe the problem-solving strategies used by students. “Sometimes change can be scary,” Christina acknowledged, “but if you take small steps and lead with positivity, success will come. “
In her coaching classes at UI, Christina learned to be assertive about teachers who try new things to help their students. She finds it rewarding to coach more experienced teachers so that she can learn from them on her own. “I like getting different perspectives from different people,” she said. “We’re all in the same boat, so the more we support each other in professional learning communities, the more we can help our students succeed. “