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Partnering With Students

with Mary Jane O'Connell and Kara Vandas

Workshop Overview

This 2-day workshop is a comprehensive solutions approach designed to empower teachers and students to share in the ownership of learning, significantly improving student engagement, confidence, and learning achievement. Teachers, school leaders, and students collaboratively develop a plan of action for successful student learning and goal realization.

SESSION 1: Building Collaborative

Are your students active contributors to learning in the classroom?  This session focuses on how student and teacher beliefs accelerate or diminish learning. Discovering how to develop learning partnerships with your students will result in significant student achievement.

SESSION 2: Focusing Learning

Can teachers and students articulate the learning outcome and what success looks like?  Through this session, you will gain clarity on essential standards, learning progressions and criteria for success that enables students to set personal goals, monitor and self-assess progress, and prove learning.

SESSION 3: Building Learner Strategies for Life

Help your students build a toolbox of strategies for learning.  Discover how to build learner capacity through the transfer of teacher-owned to student-owned strategies, how to deepen and extend learning by analyzing feedback, and how to guide students to reflect upon and understand what works best for them as learners.

SESSION 4: Proving Learning Through a Body of Evidence

Discover how to begin partnering with your students to engage them in assessing, monitoring, and proving learning.  When students use evidence and criteria for success, they reflect on progress, strategies used, and are able to communicate success and next steps for learning.  

Download a sample agenda

Download the flyer


Meet the PwS Consultants

With a career that includes seven years as a classroom teacher and over twenty years as a building principal in year-round schools, Professional Development Consultant Mary Jane O’Connell works with educators and central office and building administrators in urban, suburban, and rural settings. Her work focuses on curriculum, assessment, instruction, and data analysis for school improvement and monitoring.  Her goal is to establish relationships and partnerships with others to achieve significant increases in student learning.

Kara Vandas Headshot

Kara Vandas works with districts and schools around the country, both elementary and secondary, to implement processes and practices that best support student learning. Kara brings experience in these areas from her previous work as the Director of Teacher Effectiveness for the Colorado League of Charter Schools, where she was responsible for partnering with over 30 public charter schools around the state of Colorado in the implementation of Data Teams and Rigorous Curriculum Design. In doing so, Kara has had the opporutnity to support rural, urban, and suburban schools of various instructional models and student populations, and across K-12 systems, in order to best implement these powerful practices. 


Kara and Mary Jane's Blog Posts Featured on Corwin Connect

Parent-Teacher Conferences-Something's Got to Give!
It's the Hard that Makes it Good: Developing "True Grit" in Students
5 Steps to Partner with Students in Learning
Common Formative Assessment: What's Missing in the Middle?
Feedback—It's Everywhere, But Is It Good? 


What Your Colleagues Are Saying

“Mary Jane O’Connell and Kara Vandas have taken a courageous step in connecting the dots on several pieces of strategic research about student learning. They have provided classroom teachers with practical templates with which to apply the teacher’s planning for instruction in partnering with students to build ownership for learning."
Ainsley B. Rose, President
Thistle Educational Development Inc., BC Canada

"O’Connell and Vandas provide a wealth of information to educators, proving that it is not only important to be student-focused, but essential if students are to reach their fullest potential.”
— Russell J. Quaglia, President/Founder
Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations


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