By Kyle Hietala
DCPS Office: Office of Instructional Practice, IMPACT Operations Team
Education: Rising Junior at UC Berkeley
Program of Study/Major: Global Development
Hometown: Sherman Oaks, California
Even though she describes herself as “not really a data analysis person,” Leah has grown more comfortable crunching numbers and working with Excel over the course of the summer. Her project involves studying social-emotional learning (SEL) and how it can be seamlessly incorporated into professional development for teachers. She thinks SEL is important for students, since it, when done well, “creates a better overall learning environment, one in which students are more able to become kind, compassionate citizens.”
Leah is focusing on how to market and promote SEL to teachers, so they’re better equipped to implement it into their day-to-day teaching. “We need buy-in, and we need to make sure our resources make clear the connection between SEL and positive academic and life outcomes,” Leah pointed out. To get that buy-in, DCPS needs effective professional development sessions that prepare teachers to implement SEL. “As a student, I just saw PD days as early-out Tuesdays,” Leah mused about her own public high school experience. Now as an intern, she “understands the value of it more clearly.”
Leah is also examining teacher evaluations this summer. She’s studying research questions such as, “how do teachers with different types of preparation, like Fellowships, TFA, traditional preparation, etc. perform in the classrom?” She has been analyzing policy papers about using qualitative student feedback as a way to evaluate teachers. So far, she’s conflicted: “it’s great students have a voice,” she said, “but teachers sometimes point out that students can have biases.” Leah is combing through so much data that she sometimes needs to take a break to refresh herself. Her choice leisure activity? Reading an NPR article about education.
Even though she was originally interested in Latin America politics and International Relations, Leah has discovered a new passion for education and work around curriculum. “I can see myself becoming a teacher,” she concluded.