LAWTON, Okla._Teachers in Lawton are spending part of their summer vacation getting ready for the next school year.
They are currently participating in an annual development program called "Great Expectations." It's a non-profit program that helps teachers, through learning activities, to become better at controlling the classroom and assisting students with learning. Through one of their research-based studies, they found that learning skills increased tremendously after the program was implemented.
The program first started in Oklahoma in 1990 and has made such a great impact that it has been able branch out to other states including Texas and Missouri.
The methodologies were comprised to help teachers learn how to motivate students so they can understand how important education is and how students can cooperate with trust, respect, and positive attitudes.
"It's taking the very best practices that a teacher or a principal can follow. It has been encouraged because we see such great results. So I have always chosen to come to GE. I think this is about my 10th year," said Lisa Carson, Woodland Hills Elementary School principal.
Instructional coach, Betty Flurry, says the trust and motivation starts as soon as the children walk in.
"We don't know the students coming to us in the morning, but we want to be ready for our students. So we greet them at the door. We build a high level of trust within the classroom," explained Flurry.
Within the program, teachers also learn how to control the classroom. As a result, school officials have said teachers now have less of a need for disciplinary action. For Shelby Crow, it's only been her second year teaching and she says the work has already started to speak for itself.
One of the main goals she implemented was to make sure the kids want to be successful.
"You can only encourage so much; it has to be an intrinsic thing. I really push for them to be self-motivated and want that academic gain," said Crow.
Through Great Expectation's research, they found that third-graders showed a 62 percent learning increase, while eighth-graders showed an 80 percent increase. Schools that implemented the program for five or more years had the highest level of achievement.
Now that the training has been completed, it's time to use the knowledge in the classroom.
"I'm just excited to meet my new kids and hopefully have the same patterns this year. Everything went really well, and I really do pay that back to GE," said Crow.
The program is not only open to Lawton teachers; some came from as far as Altus and McAlester.