Sandy Hodgson – Denver, Colorado …Twenty educators and administrators came together the last week of July to jump-start the school year and dive deep into Standards Based Learning. RMC education director, Diane Harris, and associate director, Paul Negrete, organized the intensive training so that teachers could bring transparent and honest feedback to learners, create processes that allow time for students to have relevant and authentic experiences, and help students develop skills to become self-navigating learners.

With support from Rocky Mountain Conference administration, the Education department hosted Dr. Marie Alcock as the keynote speaker and trainer. RMC associate director, Paul Negrete, has worked closely with Dr. Alcock in Adventist education for more than eight years. Dr. Alcock is a national and international consultant specializing in the areas of curriculum, instruction, and assessment design. She has spent the last 20 years working in public and private education as a teacher, administrator and public advocate. She works with schools to improve student motivation and literacy through digital tools and game design.

Participants spent six full days in training and work sessions where they completed year-long contexts, bundling standards in a timeline of non-negotiable curriculum elements. Learning targets (clear statements of what the learner needs to know or do) were created for the standards along with proficiency scales to provide valuable feedback to learners.

Other Rocky Mountain Conference educators then joined the team for a mini training session with Dr. Alcock at the annual Teachers’ Convention from Sunday, July 31 to Tuesday, August 2. Everyone participated and learned with Dr. Alcock as they launched intentional strategies to help students become lifelong learners.

Traci Pike, head teacher at Mountain Road Christian Academy in Casper, Wyoming sees great opportunity with Standards Based Learning in a small school setting. “This is naturally the way we should be teaching in a multi-grade, multi-age classroom. It aligns perfectly with the holistic Adventist philosophy of education.”

“Collaboration took place between schools and across all grade levels and subjects,” reflected Kari Lange, Grades 1-2 teacher and vice principal at HMS Richards Elementary in Loveland. “It didn’t matter if you were teaching second grade math, geometry, or high school English. We all worked together and held each other accountable and on task.”

Vista Ridge Academy principal Marsha Bartulec loved the experience. “I caught the vision and excitement from Diane and Paul. I learned new vocabulary, asked a lot of questions and got immediate feedback. As an administrator, I was able to map out a year-long context to support the teachers in our school.”

RMC Education’s goal is for the core group that trained in July to begin implementation with at least one discipline as school gets underway mid-August. The other RMC educators who had the mini training session are challenged to implement learning standards and learning targets in one course by January 2023. Planning ahead for 2023-2024, Paul Negrete believes “educators in Rocky Mountain Conference will have a deeper understanding of the process so that they can make a transition to standards-based learning, take calculated risks, and bring systemic change to education in our schools.”

Joining educators for dinner Monday evening, Mic Thurber, RMC president, Doug Inglish, VP for administration, and Darin Gottfried, VP for finance, shared their support and encouragement as teachers begin a new school year. President Thurber offered a prayer of dedication.

As teachers prepared to head back to their individual campuses, Diane Harris reminded them that just as Jesus not only brought peace to his disciples while the storm raged, but he also got into the boat. He does not remain on the sidelines of the lives of his followers. “The Education department,” encouraged Harris, “will not remain on the sidelines. We will be with you as you go forward to create great learning opportunities for your students.”

–Sandy Hodgson is RMC education assistant director. Photo by Sandy Hodgson.