Donna Lee Tingor is a long-time ASSISTments user and teacher trainer! Learn more about Donna Lee's experience with ASSISTments.
Tell me about your teaching background.
My teaching career started up in the private school sector where I accidentally fell into teaching and loved it from day one. I taught science and math, and eventually became the head of the science department. For a while after, I went into business for myself and opened a balloon decorating, costume character entertainment, and party supply store. It was completely the opposite of teaching algebra and chemistry! After a while, I missed teaching and went back to get my math teaching license. That is how I ended up teaching at Monty Tech! After a few years at Monty Tech, I became the Math Department Liaison, Title One Teacher Coach, Math Data Team Leader and Data Team Coordinator, all while teaching still teaching math! Throughout the past 17 years, I have taught every high school level of math ability and subject level except calculus. I have recently retired from Monty Tech, but continue to teach graduate level courses in Curriculum and Assessment and Advanced Teaching Methods as an Adjunct Professor at Fitchburg State University.
How did you get involved in ASSISTments?
I got involved with ASSISTments through one of my administrators who was approached by the ASSISTments team about 11 years ago. My Academic Coordinator Maria Lysen was a wonderful leader and thinking that I would be interested, encouraged me to attend an ASSISTments training. At that time, ASSISTments provided new teachers with a fellow who would get you acclimated and pick your brain to find out what you and your classroom needed. The fellows would also ask teachers for feedback about how to improve ASSISTments. Many of my original ideas are still in use today, like the “Anonymize” and “Quick Build features”. I loved ASSISTments from the start because it really improved class participation and my students’ achievement. As a result, I have included it in my classroom routine for all these years.
How do you feel the classroom is different with ASSISTments?
It is completely different because of using ASSISTments. After assigning homework, teachers are able to know immediately where the students are in the learning process before they walk in the door for class! This means that teachers no longer have to waste time going over homework questions that students already know how to to do (a high percentage correct) and can focus on the on the problems where students are struggling (a low percentage correct). ASSISTments gets students involved in their own learning. I have found that students really like to see their data. Sharing data with students gets them excited about their progress and sparks conversations in my classroom that I never had before ASSISTments.
What is your role now as a teacher mentor and what are your goals?
As a teacher mentor, I guide teachers who are new to ASSISTments with different ways in which they can use the program. The beauty of ASSISTments is that it can be tailored into whatever teachers and students need. There is no right or wrong way to use ASSISTments, and there are endless ways to incorporate it into your particular teaching style. At my school we had a number of teachers all using it in a slightly different way. Some use it for remediation, while others focus on ASSISTments purely for homework. As a mentor, I support teachers in identifying how ASSISTments can address both student and teacher needs in the classroom and give them helpful hints along the way. This helps them to become more comfortable using the system and reports with students.
My advice for new ASSISTments users is that you have to allow it the time that it deserves. There is a learning curve and you have to be patient. It takes the students and teachers some time to get used to ASSISTments. But I can assure you that it will be worth the time invested. You will be surprised at what class conversations will arise because of using ASSISTments! Students who rarely participate will have something to say, because they know that they are not the only one who got a question wrong. If a class report shows that only 15% of students answered #4 correctly, students may be more apt to raise their hand and talk about why they got it wrong. ASSISTments class report data allows everyone to be part of the learning process!