STATE SUPERINTENDENT'S BLOG
Why Home Base?
August 27, 2014
This week, Sally Smith, a second-year teacher, arrived at a North Carolina high school in her red 2005-model car with no air conditioning. But this year, her year will be better.
As a first-year teacher last year, Sally had four different classes for which she had to prepare, including Civics and Economics, World Studies, American History, and AP U.S. History. Most days, she arrived at school before 7 a.m. and faced 125 students every day in her classes. When she was through with her classes, she met with students after school to provide them with extra help and assistance in writing reports and essays using evidence-based strategies. She also used after-school time to call parents.
After she pulled out of the school parking lot each day at around 6 p.m., she would stop at the store to buy food or she would swing by a restaurant to pick up dinner. Three nights a week she worked at a local restaurant waiting tables.
Most nights when she arrived at home, she would spend at least two to three hours grading papers, searching for quality project-based learning activities, or Googling for suggestions on how to better engage students in learning about the Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War or other lessons. At about midnight, she would go to bed exhausted, and before she knew it, her alarm would go off at 5:30 a.m. and it would be time to start the next day.
This year will be different for Sally. Although her car's air conditioning is still in need of repair, things will be better. Sally will still have four different classes to teach and 130 students with very different needs. But now she also has a resource that will save her time in planning. Sally now has Home Base, a resource full of quality lesson plans, assessment items, instructional videos and more. She also will make fewer calls in the afternoon since more of her parents will keep up with their children by using Home Base's Parent Portal.
Sally is excited about what she learned this summer about Home Base. She knows that resources available through this tool are tagged and evaluated. So when it comes time for her to teach students about the Founding Fathers' principles, she can find helpful supporting materials easily and quickly. Her work in creating benchmarking tests will be a breeze compared to the hours she spent last year in developing assessments.
Now Sally can spend more time in personalizing instruction. She can direct students to resources that will provide extra help and accelerate learning. Sally would not have been able to access Home Base without the work the Department of Public Instruction staff members did to make this valuable tool available to educators.
Thanks to the vision, persistence, and commitment that DPI employees maintained for this project, we have reached a significant milestone in the level of support we provide to North Carolina public school teachers. And because of this increased level of support, our teachers will be more prepared and they can devote more time to individualizing instruction to meet the needs of every student.
The reality is that there are many "Sallys" as well as educators with every other background and level of experience working tirelessly today in classrooms across our state. And there is no question that all of our teachers have demanding jobs and need extra support. That is why North Carolina is so fortunate that 114 out of 115 school district leaders have elected to make Home Base available for their teachers this year.
As we move through another school year, DPI employees will devote time to strengthening and improving Home Base. Together, we will continue to use innovative technology to make positive differences in teaching and learning in our state. To learn more, visit http://www.ncpublicschools.org/homebase/ .
June St. Clair Atkinson