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NMSI’s Freddie Kendrick Talks Elementary Education

Last summer, The National Math and Science Initiative played host to a series of guest speakers who came to talk to our interns about a variety of issues, ranging from Kerri Briggs’ experience working with the Bush Administration on education reform, to Dr. Rena Pederson’s travels across Burma to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi. Kicking off this summer’s series of “Lunch & Learns” is Freddie Kendrick, NMSI Director of the Elementary Teacher Training Program.
Freddie joined NMSI last year to help develop a teacher training program for elementary educators, and she is passionate about the work she and her team does. “It’s important to start at the elementary level,” she told those attending, “in order to blend into the rest of the system.” But the key to being successful at the elementary level depends on how engaged the students are in the learning process. For young students to be fully engaged, Freddie believes teachers have to hit on four different levels – cognitive, social, physical, and emotional. “You have to teach kids how schools run,” she said. “If you do not make it relevant and actually add an emotional level for them to connect to, they will lose the information within 72 hours.” This is accomplished by showing educators how to be effective teachers.
Hitting these four levels is something that NMSI’s Elementary Training program excels at, because she herself brings the unrelenting passion needed to inspire schoolteachers to be excited about NMSI’s training. “NMSI is here to transform education, and that transformation starts from the ground up.” And by ground up, she did not mean at just the elementary level. She also meant you have to fundamentally change the way teachers think in order to change the way teachers teach. To prove her point, she shared her experience at the pilot training for the elementary program in Alaska.
“We had such a huge group [63 teachers], we were not expecting it – we weren’t prepared!” But despite the crowd, Freddie and her team hit the ground running. All the teachers attending the event came together to collaborate and learn through hands on training. “We are hands on,” Freddie explained. “You cannot teach without it being hands on.” At one point the training was even moved outside because the weather was nice, which is something that Freddie strongly encouraged the teachers to do with their own students. “Life is messy! You have to do it in all dimensions.”
As for the training program itself, Freddie’s team went through 5 phases – analyzing, designing, development, implementation, and evaluation (or, as they call it, ADDIE for short) – but these phases are not linear. They are cyclical. “We are now in the evaluation phase to make it better,” she said, and she is taking personal responsibility to ensure that the program is the best it can possibly be.
“Teaching is an art,” she said in closing, “but it can’t be done without the science behind it. It’s an integrated approach.”
To learn more about NMSI’s Elementary Teacher Training Program – or any of our teacher trainings – click here.
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