Student-centered teaching working in Hancock

HANCOCK — The Michigan Department of Education’s Strategic Plan states Michigan’s success in becoming a Top 10 education state is not going be the result of a new program or some particular investment on the part of the state.

Success is dependent upon changing the way in which innovations are implemented, the Strategic Plan states, which is a major reason Michigan is not as focused on creating new innovations to support learning.

The policy urges ensuring these innovations are established in the appropriate context and implemented to fidelity. This approach identified in the document “Formula for Success,” illustrates that positive results for learners are dependent on three critical factors:

•Evidence base for the practice being implemented.

•Manner in which those practices are put in place.

•Hospitable educational environments where these practices are adopted and sustained.

One of the components for evidence-base practice is a content action plan, which was introduced at Hancock middle school and the high school in the fall of 2017.

“The content action plan is a best practice,” Principal Ezekiel Ohan explained. “It is peer-reviewed and evidence-based. It shows the growth of not only learning but teaching. It enables the teacher to go ahead and connect with the classroom and meet the children where the children are. If they’re stratospheric, challenge them with critical thinking skills. If they’re not proficient, where are they? Let’s meet them there.”

The content action plan might seem complicated, but in practice, it is not, said Ohan. Teachers in the field should have some sort of idea how best to reach the students in the classroom, through skills they have acquired or methodologies of which they have read or heard.

“They believe that if they put this particular strategy into play, student performance will increase,” Ohan said. “And that would be evidenced in a project, or a presentation, or a quiz or a test, and then we keep on documenting that with what we call an instructional learning cycle. We won’t do an instructional learning cycle in less than 30 days, so we can get some consistent and accurate feedback that we can measure.”

At the end of the 30-day period, teachers can then determine if there is a challenge in the student’s learning, a challenge in their understanding, or a challenge in the content.

“We still have to bridge the gap between the nonproficient and the proficient, and between the proficient and the gifted,” said Ohan. “So, we have all these students in the classroom, and the way you do that is with the content action plan.”