Teacher awarded $15K grant to implement ‘student-centered learning’

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RUMFORD — Mountain Valley High School Technology teacher Jeff Bailey hopes his idea for teachers to record themselves in their classrooms will advance student-centered learning.

In early September, Bailey won a $15,000 grant as part of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation’s Lawrence W. O’Toole Leadership Awards. The award recognizes public high school teachers who are advancing student-centered approaches to learning throughout New England. A total of 12 teachers across the region were also selected for the O’Toole Leadership Awards.

With the grant money, Bailey plans to find ways to help high school teachers develop student-centered approaches to teaching. By using an iPad and a Swivl video recording system, he and 15 educators chosen to participate in his group will take turns recording their classes and meet monthly to view their videos and discuss what worked or didn’t work.

Bailey uses a “flipped classroom” teaching style in his technology classes at MVHS. Some research shows that a traditional teaching style where the teacher delivers material to students during class time “doesn’t give the (students) the support they need when they need it most,” he said.

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In Bailey’s classes, students may be given reading assignments or a video to watch as homework and when they return to class the practice begins and “the teacher is there to facilitate that practice.”

“The idea is that (we’re) trying to bring student-centered learning throughout (our) school,” he said.

“I personally look at what I’m teaching and say, ‘Are there places where students get a choice of how they show me what they know?” he said. “And if I’m being honest, (it’s) probably not very often.”

Bailey said he hopes he and the teachers will learn more teaching strategies from each other and be able to offer students more choices and engage students more deeply in their studies.

Other activities lined up for the teachers, students and their families are two student listening sessions, one in January and the other in April. These two evening sessions will include a meal and time to “incorporate more student voice and choice as a result of student feedback,” Bailey said.

Teachers requesting to be part of Bailey’s practice group said they were hoping to become better at allowing students to come to their own conclusions about problems from their own ability levels. They said they wished to reflect on their own teaching skills, learn some new teaching tricks, and learn some technology tools to help them be more student-centered.

In 2014, Bailey was chosen as Oxford County Teacher of the Year. He began his teaching career in 1998 as an English instructor at the high school. Ten years after, the school asked him if he was interested in filling a vacancy as a Technology teacher since the school’s Industrial Arts teacher was retiring. He accepted the position and has been teaching Technology for almost as long as he taught English.

mhutchinson@sunmediagroup.net

Mountain Valley High School Technology teacher Jeff Bailey was awarded a $15,000 grant in early September as part of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation’s Lawrence W. O’Toole Leadership Awards. With the grant, he is planning a teacher’s group to meet throughout the year to focus on student-centered learning. 

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