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I’m the Only 7th/8th Grade Math Teacher at my School. Professional Learning with ASSISTments Breaks Down Silos.

Carrie Moy is the only 7th and 8th grade math teacher in her Chicago school. She is eager for ways to think differently to ensure she is doing what’s best for students, but in a small school without many teacher leadership opportunities, silos inevitably form around grade levels and it can be difficult to collaborate with other teachers using the same content.

When Carrie found ASSISTments in the spring of 2020, it was just before the pandemic hit. The tool seemed to answer the question, “how do you build capacity for teachers to use data?” something that Carrie believes teachers want, but struggle to do without a program that makes data quick and easy to use.

“Teachers have intuition,” says Carrie.” They know their students and what works in class, but can use data to hone in on informed instruction. She immediately saw ASSISTments as a flexible tool that gives teachers options, but makes sure they’re still setting pace.

It’s hard to believe that Carrie is a self-taught ASSISTments user and hadn’t participated in our teacher programming before becoming fully integrated into the ASSISTments family. Currently, she holds the following ASSISTments distinctions: Certified Educator, ASSISTments Ambassador, Teacher for Research & Feedback, as well as being an active member in our virtual learning communities

“I know that not all teachers have the time,” says Carrie, “but especially during the shift to distance learning, hearing how other teachers and schools are doing things became crucial to my practice.” These opportunities have been a way to explore, bounce ideas off of other teachers, and create a collaborative community with teachers facing similar challenges. “It’s rewarding to have your opinion valued as a teacher,” she says. ASSISTments “clearly values teachers and their time.”

Driven by the goal of learning enough about ASSISTments to make it work for her, Carrie first dove into the self-paced Certified Educator Program, before realizing that connecting with other teachers in a structured environment is what would take her practice to the next level. She joined an ASSISTments virtual Professional Learning Community, which gave her a chance to master the basics and inform her own practice by seeing how other teachers were using the platform. 

As a Teacher for Research and Feedback, Carrie also supported the research and development of a new ASSISTments feature that will provide instructional recommendations to teachers. Carrie felt confident lending her expertise to this feature, knowing it will support other teachers using ASSISTments around the country and in the world.

The instructional recommendations feature gives teachers insight into where their students have had misconceptions within the curriculum, as well as how to leverage ASSISTments features like ‘common wrong answers’ to teach units. The collaborative piece of her involvement breaks down the silos of Carrie’s school environment by seeing how other teachers are responding to the same challenges - or what’s in “my blindspot” as Carrie puts it - and helps identify consistent themes for teachers across the board.

Going into her second school year using ASSISTments, Carrie is excited to put her new learning into action. She is currently mapping her lessons by backwards planning from learning goals, marrying ideas about using ASSISTments in asynchronous environments with the insights into her curriculum she gained from developing the instructional recommendations feature.

“I can see where kids are struggling and know exactly what to hone in on,” says Carrie. Armed with the knowledge about common wrong answers for units she’s preparing for is especially helpful for lesson planning and identifying questions to assign students where she knows there are misconceptions. 

Carrie may be her school’s only math teacher at her grade level, but this school year, she’s no longer the only ASSISTments user, having introduced ASSISTments to the 5th/6th grade math teacher from her Chicago school. In her new role as ASSISTments Ambassador she can continue to support other new teacher users in getting started with ASSISTments, while expanding her virtual network and growing as a teacher leader.