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Heather Hodges Describes the Amazing Experience of the Kagan Academy

Heather Hodges

“Are we going to do Kagan today?”

Fifth grade teacher Heather Hodges of Cedar Grove Elementary School fields that question a lot from her students after her four days at the Kagan Winter Academy where she returned with exciting concepts for her classroom.

“The Kagan Academy offered a wealth of valuable training and hands-on experience,” she said. “Each day was action-packed and content driven.”

She was one of only 37 teachers internationally awarded an $800 school to travel to Las Vegas for the Academy.

“To me, the most valuable piece, was the hands-on experience. Our Kagan trainer allowed us to fully immerse in the Kagan experience,” she said. “We did not just talk about the new structures and engagement tools, we practiced each of them. This was not a lecture-based training, it was based on practical application. Being able to experience the Kagan structures as a student would, allowed me to see the vast value found in implementing them.”

With Hodges’ participation in Kagan, Cedar Grove created a Kagan team which has been meeting to develop a plan to pass the training along to colleagues.

“We have shared some content at our most recent teacher planning day,” Hodges remarked. “We are also going to begin a Kagan coaching lab. This will allow teachers to visit our classrooms and see firsthand how Kagan strategies work to fully engage all students. It will also give us time to train the other teachers in the building to effectively implement Kagan structures in their classroom.”

The first thing Hodges did after the academy was place her students into teams because every Kagan structure is designed to work with students in strategic groups of four.

“I moved all my desks and grouped my students according to the Kagan method,” she described. “I then started implementing new structures one at a time.”

Student reaction is evident as they enter their teacher’s classroom and ask excitedly, “Are we going to do Kagan today?”

“My students absolutely love this! They are very eager to come to math and they participate in the new structures willingly. Implementing Kagan structures has changed the atmosphere of my math classes. My students are happier, more engaged, and very eager to learn,” she said.

Cedar Grove Principal Bryan Flachbart encourages his staff to consider applying for unique educational opportunities.

After going to Kagan, Hodges said she is willing to help another teacher experience the Academy.

“I am hoping that after attending the Kagan coaching labs, teachers will be very interested in attending the Academy,” she affirmed.

Hodges said she is, “More than willing to share what I’ve learned to make BCPS the best it can possibly be. I truly believe that Kagan structures can completely change the culture and climate of a school. This information is too valuable to keep to myself!”

Click on this link: https://www.kaganonline.com/about_us.php for more information about Kagan.





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