The Blytheville School District received several compliments after hosting a “New Tech Teacher Residency” for a school from Covington, VA.
In an email from Robin Sneed, New Tech Director, to BHS faculty and students, she wrote it was a wonderful two days.
“Next year will be their first year as a New Tech school, and visiting other schools to learn from them is part of the New Tech process,” Sneed said. “The superintendent from Alleghany said, ‘Over the past three years, we have visited a number of New Tech schools. None have impressed me the way this school has. We are so glad we did our residency at Blytheville High School. We learned so much from your students and staff. Thank you.’”
Sneed noted one teacher, on her way out the door after two long days of learning, said, “I just had to tell someone: Whenever I encountered a student, whether in a classroom or in the hallway, 100 percent of your student body spoke, made eye contact, and smiled. They all appeared to be so happy here. I honestly don’t think I have ever met a more polite group of young people.”
She said when debriefing classroom tours, they were impressed with the following things (summarized from four different posters that the four groups created separately and the comments they shared aloud in the debrief):
— In every classroom they visited, students were collaborating with each other. They were respectful.
— Positive and effective relationships: teachers to students, students to students, and teachers to teachers.
— “They KNOW their school & New Tech.”
— Relaxed atmospheres
— Students were focused.
— WiFi in the Courtyard
— Students were on task
— High level of safety
— Hallways were clear / lack of “hall traffic”
— Agency visibly defined
—Students were able to discuss their projects, how they were to be graded, and what their current tasks were.
— Students were respectful to our visitors. (One lady was particularly surprised, when she shared out, that every student she spoke to addressed her with “Yes, ma’am,” or “No, ma’am,” even though they didn’t know her “from Adam.”)
— They noticed teamwork; students working together to solve problems.
— They loved the inspirational wall murals, and the variety of college banners in the hallways.
— “Ergo” badges
— Motivational reminders EVERYWHERE
— Tables and chairs in classrooms, instead of desks in rows
— Students have the opportunity to take 10 AP classes.
— Students who were presenting were rehearsed and taking turns speaking.
— Students gave each other feedback / Peer review
— Students were respectful of their group members and their peers.
— They loved the Technology Component (ECHO, 1 to 1 computers, students using Google Docs, etc)
— Each classroom had a “Welcoming and Engaged Behavior”
— They were impressed with our “Work It Off” program.
— They were impressed with students’ willingness to present and to communicate, even with adult visitors in the room.
— They were impressed with the Student Ambassadors who lead their tours, and with the student and teacher panels.
— THE FOOD!!! – Ms. Byrd’s students, once again, made all of the participants very happy, and made us very proud!
“Mr. Isbell sat next to me during much of the two day event to help answer questions, and to help with technology issues, etc,” Sneed wrote. “More than one time, when our visitors were talking about you – Our Students – I looked over at him and said, ‘I’m going to cry.’ I’m sure that he will testify that I had tears in my eyes, and I could see the pride on his face as well. BHS New Tech students never cease to amaze me, and I want to thank you! After spending time at our school, one thing that they identified as something that they want to work on is their school culture / atmosphere: They want their students to be ‘confident, cheerful, and respectful’ like BHS students.”
She added visitors asked her, “why New Tech?”
“I had a longer response than this, but one thing I said was, “Because BHS students — MY students — deserve everything that the New Tech Network Design Pillars encompasses: They deserve teaching that engages, technology that enables, learning outcomes that matter, and a culture that empowers them to be agents of their own learning and to think critically,” Sneed said. “I am so proud of you!!!”