What Works: An Interview with Leslie Koller

In the following interview, Leslie Koller, a principal at Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School in the Berlin Township School Districts shares her experiences using the Let Me Learn Process as a teacher, and then as a school administrator.

Q: A few years ago, you asked Chris Johnston, Let Me Learn’s lead researcher, to visit you and discuss how to make LML happen in your building. What did you glean from that conversation that you have found helpful:

Koller: Let me share a little background first. Back in about 2000, I took the LML graduate course and began implementing it in my classroom.  I was a sixth- and seventh-grade Social Studies teacher.  This is what I did with what I learned:

  • I spent two weeks at the beginning of the school year “teaching” all the students on my team about their brains and learning.
  • My students took the LCI and created Power cards which they used in all of their academic classes.
  • I used Let Me Learn as one of the driving forces when I planned my units of instruction and my assessments.
  • I did this for the next three years (refining it each year and making it better)

Q: What if any changes did you see in your classroom?

Koller: There were several positive outcomes:

  • I had 100% student engagement in my class at all times!
  • My students were using the language of Let Me Learn and the strategies they learned regarding their patterns.
  • My students’ achievement levels went up!
  • My motivation for teaching increased – I was having fun and so were the students.
  • I improved my “people skills” with adults as well as children – including my husband and my own kids.

Q: And once you became an administrator…?

Koller: I began looking at the LML Process® to help me solve two problems.  First, I had a professional need for a clear and effective school-wide model for my teachers and students to implement in order to differentiate instruction and assessment and increase student achievement. Secondly, there I also needed to further develop my “people skills” and to be able to be an effective ed

As a principal, I consider myself first an Instructional Leader so I drummed-up some support among my staff and four teachers and I set-off for the Let Me Learn offices.

(I have since sent four more teachers to Accelerated as well as several to the summer overview sessions.  I have four more teachers scheduled to go to Accelerated this coming fall.)

Q: What issues did Let Me Learn help you address?

Koller: Well, my first challenge was my 34 in Confluence !

I wanted the school changed NOW!  (Tomorrow would probably work okay too!)

The other challenge was my 28 in Sequential !

I wanted a clear, step-by-step, color-coded, fool-proof plan in chart-form so I could systematically deal with staff personalities and problems.

Q: So was it time to rein in-or-tether-those patterns?

Koller: The term would be an understatement!

So, as a key part of a strategic plan for my school, I had to give up some of my control and let my teachers make the long-term plan.

This actually worked out very well because my staff members took over the school plan and made it their own.  The rest of my staff has already embraced the ideas – because it came from their peers – not administration.  We’re on a roll!

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