While many students cheer the end of another school year, the mood is bittersweet for kids in Angela Harvala’s fifth grade class, who often cry as they say goodbye to their teacher. Harvala is known for creating an uncommon bond with her students and encouraging them to believe in themselves and realize they can create their own future.
Referred to as a “data geek,” Harvala works tirelessly to individualize instruction. She does this by gathering diverse data about her students including their achievement data, learning preferences, home life, and anything else that could influence their performance. She then uses that information to modify instruction and set specific goals for each student.
To get a clearer picture of how students are progressing, Harvala develops alternative assessments in which students can show what they know. She also holds them accountable for their work by asking them to personally rate their own effort and progress. She shares what’s happening in the classroom with parents through social media such as Facebook and Instagram. To ensure that students who need extended learning time get the support, she developed a “Catch-Up Club” where students can get assistance with completing assignments on time. She also leads the girls’ iEmpower group afterschool.
Harvala is active on the school’s Tiger Pride PBIS (Positive Behavioral Intervention Supports) team. Last year in fact, a video she and her students produced highlighting their PBIS efforts won the award for “Best Picture” from the national Association for Positive Behavioral Supports. She is the fifth-grade level coordinator and serves on various committees such as curriculum, the science vertical team and district alignment.
Harvala’s student scores on the NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association) tests demonstrate significant growth from the beginning to the end of the year. And not only do students feel pride in their work, they are influenced by their teacher’s pride in the teaching profession—a career choice that she not only models but advocates. Perhaps one day in the future, a student of Angela Harvala’s will be surprised with the Milken Educator Award!
“Great teachers don’t teach what to think; they teach how to think, solve problems and communicate.”..." (read more)
MinnPost | Oct 30 , 2014 | Minneapolis, MN
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