Teachers, staff and administrators in the Bridgeport Exempted Village School District learned ways to make old
school instructional tools new again by combining it with modern technology to enhance learning.
Renowned speaker Weston Kieschnick spoke to roughly 70 educators in the Bridgeport High School cafetorium on Feb. 8 as part
of a professional development program. Kieschnick’s initially scheduled visit was preempted in November but he got his chance to
share teaching strategies designed to help students learn more efficiently and effectively.
Kieschnick, an associate partner with the International Center for Leadership and Education based in Albany, N.Y., has authored
several books including “Bold School” and “Breaking Bold” and has traveled to 50 states and 30 countries to work with students,
educators and also with U.S. and European consulting firms to help implement professional development initiatives, design curricula
and train educational leaders. He also has served the educational community as a blended learning teacher, instructional coach,
speaker, assistant principal, instructional development coordinator and dean of education. Kieschnick has collaborated with innovative edtech companies such as Google and Apple to redefine teaching and learning in a digital age and also hosts the podcast “Teaching Keating.”
His methods incorporate high yield instructional strategies which are proven through research to have the greatest positive effect on student achievement for students in all subject areas and grade levels. Each strategy is statistically linked to positive student achievement by a number called ‘effect size’ and numbers above 0.4 are deemed significantly effective, which is what the district focuses on to attain academic success. He said long-held strategies from peer tutoring and reciprocal learning to interactive videos and vocabulary strategies can be paired with technology to yield exponential growth in student learning. During the session, he quizzed teachers on best practices and ultimately formed smaller groups for workshop sessions. “In the United States, we are graduating more kids and teaching with greater rigor,” he said. “Our school system is not broken. We need to know how we make sure old school instruction [is still utilized] and use innovation so not to replace it. We need to expand our teaching expertise to include more strategies and know how to use technology to make learning more effective and efficient.”
Kieschnick also praised teachers for their efforts in maintaining education in the wake of COVID and was pleased to work with those at Bridgeport.
“It’s a great group of teachers and I think it’s important to hear that schools aren’t broken. During the pandemic, our schools made sure kids were fed emotionally, physically and academically. Our teachers stood up and made sure the kids were taken care of and I want to make sure they are acknowledged.”
Superintendent Brent Ripley said Kieschnick’s visit would help the district further how it connected with students to help them attain success.
“Life is all about relationships. Our goal each and every day is to show the students that we care, to truly listen to them and help them grow,” Ripley added. “We want to improve every day in the ways that we can positively serve our students. Weston’s visit reminded us all that our focus is always to be on our students and how we deliver quality education to them. We want our teacher’s to receive professional development that will continue to improve teaching, learning and relationships. Weston is the perfect choice to provide this to our teachers.”
District Curriculum Director Leslie Kosanovic said Bridgeport officials first met Kieschnick at an East Central Ohio Educational Service Center administration retreat in 2019 where he served as keynote speaker. She said local educators connected with his message and used his book, ”Bold School,” in monthly leadership discussion group sessions where teachers share those that they have implemented in their classrooms. He was then invited to speak in the district.
“We have been supporting the use of high yield instructional strategies within the district for a while, in particular, those that reinforce formative instructional practices, said Kosanovic. “In addition, we connected with his belief that to move forward, you need not abandon all the good practices of the past but instead blend those with new and proven innovative strategies.” We are all learners that seek to grow in our practice and I believe that Mr. Kieschnick is just the person to continue to move us all forward. District Technology Coordinator Lisa Clark said Kieschnick’s methods were vital to help students learn.
“Technology only enhances learning when it is blended with proven instructional strategies, and I like how ‘Bold School’ provides educators with simple and practical ways to integrate technology to make high yield instructional strategies more effective, motivational and engaging. This book is a great resource for our staff,” Clark noted. “Kieschnick lays out each chapter by taking a high effect-sized instructional strategy and provides examples of how to blend it with purposeful technology use. This blended approach makes these teaching strategies more impactful and effective in driving student learning. We are so excited to be able to bring Weston Kieschnick to the Bridgeport Exempted Village School District. His beliefs and his message continue to reinforce ourwork. In addition, he will challenge all the educators in the district to continue in our own professional growth.”
Kieschnick’s visit was financed through a federally funded Title I Non-Competitive, Supplemental School Improvement Grant, and he is slated to return for a follow-up session in mid-August.