All Kinds of Minds

About 150 area educators are learning a new approach to connecting with students in the classroom. The 'Schools Attuned Program' aims to help teachers understand the different ways students learn. Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker reports.

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Part of the week long training includes role playing. One teacher gets to play the role of a student who is having some difficulties in the classroom.

"Let's talk about if you are starting to write a paper. You're starting to write a paper and notice we have three simple steps for a big activity. What are some simple steps that we could look at then we will come up with a visual together."

Barbara Bush Elementary School Principal Theresa Rose brought a handful of her teachers to learn the techniques.

"A lot of these ideas, we've known about them. You just forget when to use them and how to use them to the best for each child. And so that's what's interesting, we've all been taking down notes; oh I'm going to do this now when I run into that problem."

Neff Elementary fourth grade teacher Diane Benavides works with students just learning English. She wants to make a personal connection with each of her students. Benavides says that helps the students feel they accomplished goals in the classroom and in life.

"I would think that sometimes we get so boggled down with being impersonal and having an asymmetrical relationship. You are the teacher, you are the student. In order to take some pressure off of that, you really have to find a personal bond with every child."

Schools Attuned Regional Coordinator Michael Taranto says the program helps teachers recognize and manage the different challenges students' face that may hinder their educational achievement. He says students can't be put in one single mold.

"Part of this is to help teachers recognize that kids, every single child is different and very unique and if we can understand what their unique learning style is, what their unique strengths and weaknesses are then we can better help them be successful in school."

Taranto says research is on-going to see what kind of impact the training has on the classroom and students outcomes. The program is supported by more than one million dollar grant from the Brown Foundation. Also supporting the program so that there is no cost to the school district are The Cullen Foundation, The Powell Foundation and Houston Endowment. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.

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