Talawanda School District got an overall “B” on its 2017-2018 state report card and an “F” in the category of “prepared for success.” As the district’s new director of teaching and learning, it is Lindsey Gregg’s job to help raise those grades.
She was hired to the position in March, with the goal to improve student learning by combining authentic teaching practices with required curriculum.
“Lindsey Gregg brings a wealth of skills and experiences that will add to our focus of empowering staff and students to achieve at the highest level possible,” said Ed Theroux, Talawanda’s superintendent of schools. “Her work and leadership will directly impact all Talawanda students.”
Gregg said her job deals with how material is presented, what material is presented and at what pace it is presented in the classroom. Gregg then has to figure out how these practices are measuring up to data from test scores, and improve the relationship between required curriculum and teaching practices.
“She will take her time to identify the strengths and needs and then formulate plans to not only implement our new strategic plan, but to advance the teaching and learning areas,” Theroux said.
Gregg and others within the district worked with Theroux to construct the new strategic plan. Highlights of the plan include preparing students for college, the military or other work by raising the academic and social-emotional learning bar, both Gregg and Theroux said. This may involve redesigning courses and their content they said.
Gregg said she will oversee a variety of programs. These include teaching assessments, course of studies, federal programs, helping homeless situations within the district and more.
What does homelessness have to do with teaching and curriculum? As Gregg explained it, students can’t be expected to do well if they can’t get to school and don’t have a stable place to live.
“Any type of homeless situations that we have in the district I help with transportation and making sure that (students) get to school and have the resources they need,” Gregg said.
Improving Talawanda’s performance on the state report card is a goal, but not the only goal, Gregg said.
“It’s important to understand that the report card is a moving target,” she said. “A lot of our teachers are amazing at what they do and they teach very authentically, but sometimes we need to be more cognizant of the standards and making sure they align to what we’re teaching.”
“We want to personalize learning for students,” Gregg said. “We also want to personalize learning for staff.”
This means she needs to figure out how to combine authentic teaching with the curriculum requirements from the state.
She said a lot of teachers in the district are stepping up to help teach other staff members about something they are passionate about, which contributes to professional development.
“That (personalized professional development) ranges from yoga in the classroom and mindfulness, all the way to literacy and best practices in math,” Gregg said. “It’s really a hodgepodge of things that staff are going to be able to pick and choose from in order to personalize what they need to learn about and what they’re going to use throughout the year.”
Gregg said an important part of her job is observing the classrooms in action to measure how successful teaching and learning are and can be in the district.
“I think that when we’re at the teachers’ level and we’re getting in there with students and seeing what they’re learning it gives us a really good idea of what’s happening in the classroom,” Gregg said.
Theroux said she has been actively involved in the classroom.
Talawanda uses the information they get from observing classrooms combined with state report card, common assessment and formative assessment data to see if the teaching matches the data.
Previously, Gregg spent 11 years as a middle school math teacher at Twin Valley South Middle School.
“I had an urge to work with other teachers in my department, so I got a curriculum license as well as my administrative license,” Gregg said.
These licenses gave her certification to work in higher up administrative roles such as the assistant principal or director of teaching and learning.
From there she worked at a local educational service center which provides districts with guidance when it comes to planning, professional development, and other areas. She then spent four years as the assistant principal at Talawanda Middle School.