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“Twenty New England public schools in the League of Innovative Schools were selected to participate in a new initiative that will help them develop personalized learning experiences that address the distinct learning needs, interests, and aspirations of individual students. The initiative’s goal is to help the schools remodel their academic programs to ensure that every graduate is prepared to succeed in postsecondary education, modern workplaces, and adult life.” This was a very sought after award that looked at schools’ plans and progress in implementing a proficiency-based and personalized learning model. The League of Innovative Schools is a regional professional learning community for schools consisting of 86 schools from across New England including 22 in Vermont. Cabot, Twinfield and Harwood were the only Vermont schools to be awarded acceptance into the Personalized Learning Initiative and all three have been working with TASS (Teaching All Secondary Schools).
TASS is the VT-HEC program that provides support to middle and high schools in their efforts to improve outcomes for all students by utilizing education neuroscience in a proficiency-based context. TASS has been working for ten years to provide middle and high schools with an array of coherent learning and coaching supports that are tailored to the needs and goals of each school. All three of these schools, for instance, attended TASS offerings that introduced the principles of brain-based learning that would form the foundation for much of their work moving forward.
Following that introduction the schools took advantage of a variety of TASS offerings and supports:
These are three very different schools in size and organization but each has made impressive gains and each has utilized TASS resources, in addition to others, to make significant progress and maintain coherence, while charting their own course. The VT-HEC is very pleased to be a part of this effort and congratulates the staff and leadership of these schools for their impressive achievement.
In the coming year TASS will again be offering the sequence of WORKshops, Using Neuroscience to Make Standards Work for ALL Students, which will be open to all and may be taken as a series, a three credit course or as individual WORKshops.
See more about these WORKshops here: https://www.vthec.org/documents/2015/08/neuroscience.pdf
TASS (Teaching All Secondary Students) has been supporting middle and high schools in their efforts to improve outcomes for all students since 2005 by offering embedded professional learning opportunities, coaching and leadership support. Now TASS is building on that foundation to offer schools and individual educators more ways to focus on the nature and needs of adolescent learners in the current world of proficiencies, graduation expectations and new testing.
Beginning in the fall of 2014 TASS will begin offering courses required for middle grades licensing endorsement. The first course will be Nature and Needs of the Adolescent Learner. These courses are designed to teach well researched skills, strategies, and tools, that will enable teachers to provide safe learning environments that will nurture students’ intellectual capacities, develop their leadership skills and voice, and differentiate instruction to meet the needs of diverse learners. The current course sequence is:
This year TASS will be offering a series of three workshops to provide leaders and educators more examples of how they can respond to the special needs of the adolescent learner given the current environment of standards-based learning, Common Core, etc.
A series of four WORKshops that can be taken individually, as a series or as a course that focus on the practical application of the principles of education neuroscience to standards-based learning in middle and high schools. These WORKshops have been designed by Bill Rich and will be supported by other TASS consultants with plenty of time allocated for participants to apply the new learning to their own setting.
TASS is a VT-HEC Program focused on supporting middle and high school in their efforts to improve outcomes for all students. TASS delivers a comprehensive, coordinated and coherent array of supports and learning opportunities designed to apply the principles of Education Neuroscience in a standards-based learning context for the 21st Century. TASS provides a long-term, integrated system of embedded professional development, coaching and leadership support within a system of collaborative implementation that is tailored to the long-term goals and short-term needs of each school. TASS consultants include Bill Rich, Val Gardner, Wendy Cohen, Susie Girardin and Otho Thompson; all long-time educators working in Vermont schools.
Val Gardner and Bill Rich have designed a series of WORKshops for leaders interested in and committed to applying principles of brain-based learning design to create cultures of ongoing learning. This learning opportunity has been offered at the VPA Leadership Academy and will be offered as a series of WORKshops this year for education leaders. This year the first WORKshops will be held on October 3, 2014, Who Are Our Learners? Applying Brain Research to How We Lead our Adult Learners. This will be followed by three more support sessions for those who have attended one of the introductory sessions at the VPA or are from a TASS school.
TASS Middle School Progam will be coordinated by Susie Girardin. Susie is a middle grades specialist who has worked in middle schools and with middle school teachers for 40 years. She is a leadership and teacher coach for TASS and is also part of the design team for the TASS teacher leader Certificate of Learning Design program. Susie has taught all of the courses in the middle school sequence and will be working to design the workshop series.
It would be hard to find someone more committed to middle level students and to addressing their unique characteristics. Susie is a dynamic presenter, coach and instructor who makes her passion about student-centered learning contagious. She has been working in a number of schools around Vermont and is always in demand. Susie is available for consultation and coaching in schools through the TASS program.
This past year TASS consultants, Bill Rich, Wendy Cohen & Val Gardner, offered a very successful series of WORKshops focused on applying principles of neuroscience to the practical implementation of standards-based learning. The topics covered included developing learning targets, using performance tasks, instituting standards-based grading and utilizing management tools to keep it all together.
Individuals and teams who attended experienced learning opportunities that were designed around the very principles from education neuroscience that formed the content of the series. They assessed their level of learning using learning scales, set goals and measured their progress. Participants devoted considerable time working with the concepts to further their understanding and practiced applying the principles to their own work with the support of Bill, Val and Wendy and others in the room. They were able to share their work, get their questions answered, see the work of others and get feedback on their efforts.
Participants worked with the teams they came with or with other participants to experience collaborative application of the principles. They were given access to resources and models that they could use during the session and in the future. Not only was the content aimed at the practical issues facing educators implementing the Common Core and other sets of standards but they were able to experience the concepts in action applied to their own learning and work.
Based on this year’s success TASS will be offering this series again in 2014-2015. WORKshops may be taken individually, as a series or as a graduate course. More details will be coming soon on how to register for these exciting and different sessions that will help educators put their ideas to work and reach their goals for the year.
TASS (Teaching All Secondary Students) is the VT-HEC program that supports middle and high schools in their efforts to improve outcomes for all students utilizing the best from research on the brain and learning, education and systems change. TASS works to offer schools a comprehensive and coherent approach to implementing standards-based learning and improving outcomes for all students. TASS can deliver a tailored array of coaching and consultation to teachers and leaders as well as embedded professional learning opportunities designed specially for individual schools. In addition, TASS offers a variety of learning opportunities that are open to all but built on the same foundation and research. TASS has an impressive team of experts who can meet most any school or professional learning need – all based on the same values and principles of learning.
VT-HEC’s WORKshops are special learning opportunities designed to put into practice what we know from neuroscience about effective learning design to better ensure the content of the session is applied in the school setting. Each session will present some key concepts on the topic that is the focus of the day along with examples and models of application of the concepts. Participants assess their current status, set goals for their learning and mark their progress using tools consistent with the principles being covered. At least half the day is devoted to the participants applying the principles to their own work situation along with their colleagues. Support will be available from the presenters and other participants who have had experience with the work. Participants get feedback and support on taking their work farther and, if they are taking the WORKshop as part of a course, they will get continued support in putting their new knowledge and skills into practice in their own settings.
In Part II of this series Nancy Cornell, long-time Assistant Superintendent and Curriculum Coordinator shares her perspective about working toward improving their schools in partnership with TASS – Teaching All Secondary Students. TASS is the VT-HEC program that supports middle and high schools with a tailored and coordinated array of coaching and learning opportunities over an extended period of time. Nancy confirmed the TASS belief in the Michael Fullan statement about school reform:
“The main problem with educational systems and corresponding innovation and policy making is that they are, intrinsically, endemically, inevitably, overloaded and fragmented. Therefore, the main solutions have to be ones that contribute to coherence making and connectedness.” Michael Fullan
Nancy told about how Mt. Abraham middle & high school always had pockets of excellence and a history of starting many separate initiatives, some even garnering national recognition. There was not, however, a coherence of purpose and action that saw the whole school working and moving forward together. Nancy recounted that in her 20+ years she had hired many talented consultants who often did great work, but they rarely coordinated that work with other consultants or other parts of the school. In contrast, the TASS consultants were clearly reading from the same page and coordinating their efforts which greatly increased their impact. Nancy joked that when she hired TASS she knew that when even when the TASS consultants were not actually working in her building they were out there somewhere coordinating and planning what they were doing at Mt. Abe because she could see the difference they were making and knew she was getting the most from her investment.
Another point Nancy highlighted was the focus TASS has on making change through collaborative implementation. TASS has the capacity, she said, to train facilitators to help make the school’s collaborative teams and Critical Friends groups work more effectively. That in turn had a positive impact on making progress in multiple areas, even beyond those that TASS was working on. Nancy noted here that TASS consistently acted on the belief that collaborative work was key to making lasting whole-school change. As examples, Nancy told of TASS consultant, Wendy Cohen, providing instruction and coaching to teachers on their work as facilitators and the whole TASS team meeting regularly with the leadership team to plan together.
Nancy also recounted that TASS consultants, Wendy, Bill Rich and Susie Girardin, designed many different kinds of learning opportunities to meet the specific needs of the moment for the teachers they were working with including designing inservice days, planning staff and department meetings, providing in-class coaching and offering graduate courses during the year and over the summer. Nancy told us that some of these courses were offered with Mt. Abe staff partnering with TASS staff to instruct the course as an example of TASS developing and utilizing the expertise found within the staff.
Lastly, Nancy talked about the work that TASS consultants, such as Val Gardner, had done with the leadership to plan for the year including outlining what they wanted to prioritize and developing a calendar that outlined their work, meetings, deadlines, etc. The leadership team also worked with Val to define what they expected from the teachers and to identify what support the teachers would need. Nancy noted that it wasn’t just the building administrators that TASS supported but also the Supervisory Union administrators and leaders of the elementary schools to facilitate district-wide planning.
Nancy ended by saying that she could not speak highly enough about how the comprehensive and coordinated work of TASS had helped Mt. Abe.
For more information about the TASS program, the services it can provide and the findings of its eight years of experience in Vermont schools, go to our web site at vthec.org or contact Seth Marineau at [email protected]
“It used to be that we were always alone, in a silo, and it was uncommon for me to really examine student performance, to find the time to actually analyze an assignment, determine which kids have evidence of understanding…now we are able to support one another Our conversations have been really productive and exciting”
Today I was reviewing Tier III questions with my students I thought it was so affirming of our work together when a student said ‘Hey, we talked about Tier III questions in such-and-such’s class today!’ I responded, ‘Freaky, I know. We actually talk to each other!’ It was great evidence of the collaborative nature and common learning that TASS has supported.”
On a snowy afternoon in February school administrators shared compelling stories relating their experiences in working toward improving their schools in partnership with TASS, Teaching All Secondary Students. TASS is the VT-HEC program that supports middle and high schools with a tailored array of coaching and learning opportunities. Each administrator in their own way confirmed the TASS belief in the Michael Fullan statement about school improvement: (more…)
Mailing Address: PO Box 285, Montpelier, VT 05601
Phone: (802) 498-3350
Email: [email protected]