Laura Davis, a fifth-grade math teacher at Kiker Elementary School in the Austin ISD, was one of 99 mathematics teachers selected this summer to participate in the inaugural State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) Teacher Institute, a week-long retreat where teachers from across Texas came together to develop interim and formative assessment items that align to STAAR assessments.
The goal of the STAAR Teacher Institutes is to improve instruction by training teachers on assessment practices and investing in teachers so they are empowered to lead by example while building more transparency in the assessment process. Davis was chosen to participate because of her years of experience working on vertical alignment teams, professional learning communities and with gifted and talented and special education student populations.
“The dialogue with other educators was the first thing that really caught my attention,” Davis said of the Teacher Institute. “Being in our own bubbles in our classrooms, it was great to hear how each district approaches learning and testing.”
Davis takes these new approaches back to her self-contained fifth grade classroom, where she works to ensure that all disciplines are taught and employs an integrated approach to learning. “I meet the students where they are, and it is not uncommon for me to incorporate real life experiences,” she said. Last year, her students learned about chicken coops by working with a veterinarian to study a chicken’s nutrition, health and ecosystems – knowledge they then applied to build their own coop using computer programming to produce a schema and then measuring and assembling it.
Davis commented that the STAAR Teacher Institute has changed the way she starts her school year. “It helped me have a better understanding of how to question my students this coming school year,” she said. “We all have the same goal – doing what is best for the students of Texas.” #IAmTXEd Austin ISD