What can one teacher accomplish in a classroom and school? A lot! In fact, research consistently shows that excellent teachers and effective teaching are the most important school-based factors of student achievement. In Atlanta Public Schools, teachers are not only increasing student success, but they are also creating caring and inclusive schools. Here are five programs in APS any teacher can access to enhance his or her classroom, school, or district.
1. Develop a Culture of Digital Citizenship
Building a positive school culture that supports the safe and responsible use of technology has never been easier! Many teachers are now choosing to become certified digital citizens. APS teachers use a curriculum with lessons that focus on cyberbullying, privacy, safety, and other digital dilemmas proven to be a challenge for schools. Lynn Freeman, APS instructional technology specialist and a certified K-12 teacher, created a website with more information about certification: http://schooldigitalcitizenship.weebly.com/.
2. Become a “No Place for Hate” Community
The Anti-Defamation League has created a powerful program for schools called No Place for Hate to help define behavior expectations to combat bias and prevent bullying. No Place for Hate stakeholders lead their school communities to foster environments where all students can thrive. Atlanta Public Schools is proud that 100 percent of its schools have achieved the designation No Place for Hate.
3. Create an Inclusive School-Based Enterprise
APS career technical instructor Dr. Josephine Barksdale wanted a way to teach her students career skills they could take into their future. She created Café 3099 at Therrell High School, a school-based enterprise (SBE) that provides hands-on learning experiences in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management for students with disabilities. The café is run completely by the students and serves coffee and snacks for the Therrell High School community. “Café 3099 brings hope, responsibility, and independence, while also teaching valuable skills,” says Barksdale. “We are building careers, not just jobs.”
4. Adopt Sustainable Practices
Providing opportunities for students to engage meaningfully in the world around them helps promote a sense of belonging, inclusivity, and a sense of community. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Education honored 45 schools for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education. Morningside Elementary School in Atlanta was one of those schools. The school operates a robust recycling program and is providing effective environmental education while incorporating STEM, civic skills, and green career pathways. Teachers in APS are using free resources such as the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program and One More Generation (OMG) Plastic and Recycling Awareness program to make the shift.
5. Grow Students’ Social & Emotional Skills
Atlanta Public Schools has made social and emotional learning (SEL) a district priority. These skills are foundational to the academic success of APS students. If students can persevere – set goals, overcome obstacles, and develop healthy relationships – the district knows they will be more successful in work and in life. The good news is that research has shown us that SEL skills can be taught. APS has adopted an SEL curriculum to assist teachers in the district with lessons. Additionally, free and low-cost resources on SEL are growing in availability. Helpful tools and information can be obtained on the web from the leading authority on SEL, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Learn more at www.casel.org.
It Starts With Great Teachers
The programs teachers implement to enhance student learning help create a positive school culture. Those contributions are appreciated and valued at every level in APS. Through its cluster configurations and signature theme focus, APS fosters environments that provide variety and creative choice for teachers certified and skilled in areas such as STEM, the International Baccalaureate program, college and career readiness curriculums, and other specialties. Additionally, teachers can gain leader responsibilities and earn stipends and additional experience while in the classroom. APS is seeking passionate, committed, and results-oriented educators to join their mission of whole-child education. Only the fearless need apply. Learn more about becoming a teacher in APS by visiting www.apsrecruits.us.