Oceanside earns grant to help teachers

District will match it and start online teaching platform


The Oceanside School District recently received a $5,000 grant from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, which the district will use for teacher development.

The grant, which the district will match, will allow National Board Certified Teachers, or NBCTs, to serve as mentors of newer teachers, helping them develop their skills and, ultimately, improving student learning. The district plans to create its own Tch Team, an online collaborative platform hosted by the Teaching Channel, in which teachers post videos of their classes to the channel’s website and receive constructive criticism from their mentors. Oceanside High School English teacher Erin Gilrein and social studies teacher Jennifer Wolfe, who serve as the teaching standards board’s regional directors for New York state, are spearheading the project.

“The Teaching Channel grant is ultimately for increasing student achievement through the support and the professional development of the district’s newest teachers,” said Wolfe. “… The first few years of teaching are very tough, and often new teachers are not sure of who they can trust with sensitive questions about planning or pedagogy or district procedure. We are hoping that the NBCT coach will be that person for these teachers.”

Each teacher has the option to choose the subject of his or her video. Work on the project began on Monday and Tuesday, when the Teaching Channel visited the high school to film a World History and Geography class and an English 9 honors class. Class videos were to be reviewed by NBCT coaches, who, along with the participating teachers, will be the only people to have access to the district’s Teaching Channel platform.

Gilrein and Wolfe will oversee the program, leading workshops on effective teaching, setting up surveys for the participating teachers in order to gauge the program’s effectiveness, and acting as liaisons to the district and Board of Education. A total of $3,600 of the initial grant and the district’s matching $5,000 is to be divided among the participating teachers as an honorarium.

According to Donna Kraus, the district’s public relations officer, Oceanside boasts 16 National Board Certified Teachers, more than any other district on Long Island. The district intends to keep the Teaching Channel program running as long as it proves fruitful, and Superintendent Dr. Phyllis Harrington has committed to funding $5,000 per year to the program.

“All of our NBCTs agree that videotape is the only way to really improve teaching, and therefore positively impact student learning,” said Wolfe. “The act of watching oneself offers an opportunity to view what is really happening, and therefore promotes honest self-reflection — a mark of an accomplished teacher, regardless of how long one has been teaching.”