Teachers have Great Expectations for new year

BY MARK POTTER of the Lawton Constitution 
 
Central Middle School was the scene of a four-day workshop last week in which teachers and administrators became students to learn more about engaging their own students. 
MICHAEL D. POPE/STAFF Leanne Miller, a teacher at Geronimo Road Elementary School, wears her brain cap to turn on her thinking skills during a methodology session during the four-day Great Expectations workshop that concluded Friday at Central Middle School. The workshop was attended by some 260 educators from Lawton Public Schools and other school districts to learn about effective classroom teaching and related subject matter to improve student achievement.
 
Some 260 educators participated in the Great Expectations program, including 131 from Lawton Public Schools, as well as educators from area school districts - including Altus, Cache, Bishop, Elgin, Frederick and Grandfield - and from as far away as Miami in far northeastern Oklahoma and Dalhart, Texas, in the northwestern Texas Panhandle.
 
ReGina Farquhar of Altus, mentor for the program, said participants included elementary, middle school and high school teachers and administrators who were assigned into groups to attend sessions on engaging students. The sessions included basic methodology and advanced sessions that addressed specific subjects, including "Bringing on the Conversation," "Catch Them Before They Fail," "Color Your World with Core," "Engaging the Brain," "Keeping It Fun," "Creative Materials," "Reading Activities," "Positive Discipline," "Music & Motion" and "Rockin’ Technology ." The educators performed various group and individual activities and exercises. 
 
"Student engagement is a very important issue," Farquhar said.
 
In one exercise, teachers and administrators did an exercise called Golden Triangles. The three-pronged assignment for classes and campuses included deciding on a specific goal, how the goals would be accomplished and the "why" of instilling principles. Remarks about each educator’s assignment were written by the program leader. 
 
"Everybody has a different goal to get Great Expectations into their schools," said Darla Massad, MacArthur Middle School assistant principal. "Many schools are already model schools and want to improve their schools to make them even better. And other schools strive to become model schools." 
 
Massad said she would like to see Lawton Public Schools buy into the Great Expectations program for the district as a whole. Farquhar said the Great Expectations program has support from Oklahoma legislators, including state Rep. Ann Coody, R-Lawton, who addressed the group at the start of the workshop. Coody is a retired longtime Lawton Public Schools educator. 
 
The theme for this year’s program was "Race to Excellence." 
 
"Our mission is to transform lives through education," Farquhar said, noting that the transformation is similar in principle to the operation of a bicycle based upon 17 Great Expectations practices. 
 
Farquhar said she hopes all teachers and administrators will incorporate ideas they reaped during the Great Expectations workshop into the school year that will begin next month. 
 
"As they start another school year, we would love for them to implement the ideas, structures, practices and principles of the Great Expectations methodology into their teaching plans," she said. "We want teachers and administrators to leave this session to transform the cultures of their schools to a more respectable level of academic achievement, and the effect that effective teaching has on the achievement of their students." 
 
MICHAEL D. POPE/STAFF Leanne Miller, a teacher at Geronimo Road Elementary School, wears her brain cap to turn on her thinking skills during a methodology session during the four-day Great Expectations workshop that concluded Friday at Central Middle School. The workshop was attended by some 260 educators from Lawton Public Schools and other school districts to learn about effective classroom teaching and related subject matter to improve student achievement.
 
 
 
MICHAEL D. POPE/STAFF These teachers attempt to jump as high as possible for an "expectation exercise" that was part of the four-day Great Expectations educational workshop that concluded Friday at Central Middle School.