Students in the Marana Unified School District (MUSD) have Chromebooks thanks to a successful bond, and now teachers are learning how to best integrate this technology into their classrooms. Every day, they’re using new digital tools to connect with their students and bring lessons to life.

With the help of a $20,000 grant from the Monsanto Fund (the philanthropic arm of Monsanto Company), 18 teachers and principals at MUSD learned Cognitive Coaching through the Arizona K-12 Center. The program—an intensive 8-day training with a yearlong implementation—trains these educator-coaches to help their peers teach with technology.

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Michelle Bergesen, Instructional Coordinator for MUSD in the Office of Professional Practice says, “It’s not tech for tech’s sake. This is about a growth mindset—lifelong learning. Teaching is tough. We often think of the supports students need, but we might forget about the teachers. [This training] has been extremely helpful to support teachers in their use of digital tools.”

Having coaches on every campus ensures technology is adapted for, and effectively used by, every teacher. Kristen Holbrook, New Teacher Mentor, focuses on educators new to the profession and to the district. Now, she also engages with all teachers as a technology coach, helping troubleshoot issues and providing instruction on integrating technology into the lesson plan. She says, “We’re thinking about how digital tools can help students learn in each classroom.”

She uses modeling, collaborative thinking, listening techniques, planning sessions, and reflective conversations to help educators best use technology specific to their teaching goals. Coaching is flexible to what each teacher needs and allows participants to follow up on the success of specific lessons and discuss what they might improve in the future.

Dr. Doug Wilson, MUSD Superintendent says, “It is our belief that we must vigorously seek opportunities to engage students in the most relevant learning opportunities to prepare them for the demands of the future. Our children deserve no less than the best and our teachers, staff, and administrators are dedicated to providing the highest quality education so our students become lifelong learners and responsible citizens.” 

“The Monsanto Fund is committed to improving access to STEM-based learning opportunities for students in the communities where our employees live and work,” said Al Mitchell, President of the Monsanto Fund. “We are pleased to support educators in the Marana Unified School District and believe the district’s program will encourage many young people to consider future educational and career choices that combine both innovation and technology.”

For more information on Monsanto Fund and its grant programs, please visit www.monsantofund.org.

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