Education Evolutions

Setting achievable goals for students leads to success in Washington, DC

Lana Learn academic coach, Danielle Chambers, guides her students to success by setting achievable goals for them to conquer.

Hi! My name is Danielle Chambers, and I am excited to share with you that I am the latest addition to the Lana Learn academic coaching team! I am coming to Lana Learn with ten years of experience in urban education. I am a High-Impact Tutoring (HIT) academic coach at H.D. Woodson High School. My current mission is helping students by setting achievable goals for them to pave their road to success.

I’ve held many roles, including classroom teacher, learning interventionist, and dean. Additionally, I have experience as a school leader for a network of charter schools in Washington, DC. I’ve also worked in many different school settings, including six months of field work in Coogee Public School during my time abroad in Australia. My focus was always STEM, with a particular love for 5th grade science. Something about those atoms!

However, after serving students in many different capacities for a decade, I decided that I wanted to go back to where I started in education, which was small group intervention. In addition to teaching 6th grade math in the Bronx, I was also tasked with math intervention with students from 6th-8th grade. Although it wasn’t the easiest, it was a very rewarding experience.

Growth Mindset

My years in intervention allowed me to develop a growth mindset, without a book or a lecture by some fancy speaker. I quickly learned that student success is measured by growth in data, not simply raw data itself. I’ve never looped with any of the classes I’ve taught over the years, so it’s always a proud moment seeing or hearing about their data growth later in their academic career.

During my experience as an interventionist, I learned that one size doesn’t fit all. Unfortunately, a lot of our students in underserved communities are in schools where student learning isn’t individualized. A common trend in these schools is either a lack of challenge or lack of support for students.

I worked in these schools, and one can imagine how difficult innovation is in these environments. I desired to change how these schools operated, so I prioritized working in schools where change was possible. After ten years, however, I realized that it was a systemic problem that would take more than just me to fix.

Fast forward to the ‘22-’23 school year, I stepped out of the classroom in the traditional sense and applied for learning interventionist and tutoring roles. I was offered a job as an algebra 1 interventionist at E.L. Haynes High School in Washington, DC. My experience there, in addition to private tutoring, allowed me to tap back into the intervention skills I had developed in my earlier years of teaching.

Intervention Skills at Work

My role as a Lana Learn academic coach allows me to continue to tap back into those intervention skills, as well as refine them. Currently, I have a caseload of seven students for the next ten weeks at H.D. Woodson High School in Washington, DC. So far, the students have been highly receptive to my presence because I am in the classroom with them rather than pulling them out.

Forming strong relationships with students is critical to making progress towards academic success. My goals for this first wave of students are to increase their school attendance records and improve their math and English language arts (ELA) grades by at least one letter grade. My priority is attendance because there is a pattern of chronic absenteeism at H.D. Woodson. I plan to build strong relationships with every student in my caseload, so that they’ll want to come to school. I also plan to collaborate regularly with teachers to share intervention strategies as well as monitor their grades. Tackling this attendance issue will make a great impact on H.D. Woodson as a whole.

The Importance of Starting Small

Lana Learn currently serves approximately 350 students across Washington, DC with a small team of nine. We are assisting schools that are unable to serve their entire population due to a myriad of issues as well as a lack of resources. A positive growth mindset is an integral part of the learning process. It can be cultivated through engagement, inquiry, and curiosity. In my experience as an educator, once I get my students’ minds going, success follows soon after.

I’m currently serving seven students in my first wave of the school year. However, my “Super Seven” have strong personalities and are well-known in the building despite being freshmen and sophomores. In my eyes, these are the leaders. I’ve been taking note of their disciplinary actions and am capitalizing on it. For example, I have a student who doesn’t like to stay in her seat. Her teacher is constantly telling her to sit down, and these interactions don’t usually end well. After a discussion with the teacher, we decided to give her the responsibility of distribution and collection of classroom work.

Fast forward to this week, and I’ve already seen an improvement in my student’s attitude about attending her math class. She’s able to get the kinesthetic movement that she requires in order to focus. Additionally, she’s coming to school and making it to her classes. Is she always on time? Not yet, but we’re focusing on baby steps. She’s a great example of the importance of starting small to work towards something greater.

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