About Heather Bickley

Heather Bickley is the Philadelphia Coaching Supervisor for Catapult Learning. She is also an instructional coach, works on various projects with Catapult’s professional development team, and she is also an adjunct professor at West Chester University. She is a professional educator with diverse experience teaching and supervising both face-to-face and online. She currently works out of the Philadelphia, PA and Camden, NJ offices of Catapult Learning.

Cultural Competence – Part I: First Steps

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to the change the world.”—Nelson Mandela As educators, we must work to meet the needs of all learners in our classrooms. To do this, we must participate in continuous professional learning and self-reflection. We are obliged to study the latest methods and strategies, know the relevant pedagogy, and stay knowledgeable about the concepts, content, and skills that are required of our students. We must also be culturally competent. According to  The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, cultural competence means to be respectful and responsive to the health beliefs and practices—and cultural and linguistic needs—of diverse [...]

2018-08-18T04:59:24+00:00 June 4th, 2018|

How Educators Can Support the Emotional Needs of Their Students & Themselves

This week I was supposed to start a blog series on Culturally Responsive Teaching. I’ve started writing the blog three times and can’t get past the first line. My first writing attempt was last Wednesday, the same day of the most recent school shooting in our nation. More students lost their lives. More educators lost their lives. Once again friends and families lost loved ones. I can’t begin to type about being culturally responsive when I can’t assure my own children and students that they will be safe in their schools. This conversation—the conversation about school safety—is the most important conversation [...]

2018-08-18T04:59:34+00:00 February 22nd, 2018|

More than an Extracurricular: Integrating Service Learning into the Curriculum

If your school is anything like the schools where I work or the schools where my children attend, parents organize service learning opportunities throughout the school year. There are food drives at Thanksgiving, coat and gift collections during the holidays, a full day of service on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, activities on Earth Day, and other opportunities to give back throughout the year. However, it has been my experience that often these opportunities to teach students about service are isolated and outside of the curriculum. This led me to consider the following: How do we incorporate service learning [...]

2018-08-18T04:59:35+00:00 January 17th, 2018|

Increasing Critical Thinking & Cognitive Demand in Your Classroom

Can you imagine a classroom where all students think and learn at high levels and demonstrate clear depth of understanding? The classroom described above does exist beyond the limits of our imagination and can become a reality when teachers use instructional strategies that engage students and both encourage and demand the use of critical thinking. What we are essentially discussing is how teachers can increase the cognitive demand in their classroom. Stein, Smith, Henningsen, and Silver (2000) define Cognitive Demand as, “The kind and level of thinking required of students in order to successfully engage with and solve the [...]

2018-08-18T04:59:38+00:00 October 17th, 2017|

Creating Authentic Learning Experiences in Your Local Community

Preparing students for the real world is central to current education pedagogy. To do this, educators create problem- and project-based learning assignments, encourage students to work collaboratively, develop engaging lessons, and produce a myriad of learning opportunities and assessments.  Whether we are talking about project-based learning, inquiry learning, or another current methods buzz word, what we are really discussing is authentic learning for students. To prepare student for the real world, educators must provide authentic learning experiences. While usually the least supported or publicized method, creating school community partnerships can increase the quality and—most relevantly—the authenticity of a child’s [...]

2018-08-18T04:59:44+00:00 June 29th, 2016|

Three Ways to Celebrate Women’s History Month in Your Classroom

Women’s History Month began last week. In 1980, President Carter signed documents proclaiming March 2−8 to be Women’s History Week; by 1987, Congress passed a proclamation establishing March as Women’s History Month. This year’s theme is “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government.” With three women seated on the Supreme Court and a woman running for President of the United States, there could be no better theme for Women’s History Month 2016. In her Etsy Cartoon, Rebecca Cohen asks, “Did you know that a woman founded the oldest university in the world, [...]

2018-08-18T04:59:47+00:00 March 8th, 2016|

Teacher Education, Part II: What Makes an Effective Teacher Education Program

“Evidence shows that effective teachers are the most important in-school contributors to student learning.” —from “Best Practices for Evaluating Teacher Ed. Programs” How do we prepare effective teachers? What are the components of an effective teacher preparation program? To begin researching the answer, I wrote the blog “Teacher Education, Part 1: What Makes an Effective Teacher.” For this, I asked the experts—students ages 5−18—the following questions, “Who is your favorite teacher?” and “Why are they your favorite teacher?” What I learned is that students prefer teachers who are smart, kind, respectful, fair, and engaging. So how can teacher education [...]

2018-08-18T04:59:47+00:00 February 2nd, 2016|