Christin Bass has over a decade of experience as an educator, having taught Literacy, Language Arts, and Learning Strategies to students with learning differences. This year, she transitioned into the role of Institute Instructional Coach at Forman after six years as a teacher in The Institute for Cognition and Learning.
This new position allows her to plan with content area teachers and incorporate more Institute strategies into those classrooms. “Sometimes I teach the whole class; sometimes just a part of it. I work with a lot of different teachers,” Bass says. “With my background in the Institute, I’m used to spotting points of breakdown where a student needs help. It’s a great opportunity to communicate that with others who work with the student.”
Pinpointing how to help students improve in their learning is exciting for Bass. “I like to try to figure out a student. Each person has a different background and his or her brain is this mystery. I like talking with them and figuring out who they are as a learner, what they do well (what their strengths are; what they shine at) and what they struggle with, or what they need,” she explains. “I love it when I can teach a student a strategy that unlocks his or her potential.”
This innovative teacher works every day to make learning enjoyable. “We pair the strategy with the content and make it fun,” says Bass, who was formerly a member of the School’s Educational Technology Committee, and is passionate about assistive technology. Formative assessment is vital to tracking students’ progress, but getting creative is key. “I want to see where the students are, but I don’t want it to be boring,” she says. “I use this app, Plickers, that I learned about at an educational technology conference. I hand out these cards with QR codes and the students turn it based on which answer they want to give.” All she needs to do is point her phone at the cards, and the answers are recorded. “When I first tried it, one of the girls said, ‘I like this; it’s like a game!’ There is power in pairing strategy instruction with technology, because it brings it to life for the students,” Bass adds.
With years of experience as a Learning Specialist in both private and public schools as well as an M.S.Ed. and a Connecticut teaching certification in Special Education (K-12), she could work anywhere, so why Forman? “Getting to work with two or three students at a time is a unique opportunity that allows them to make way more progress than if you have a large group, which is how it is in a lot of other settings,” she says. “There is also no prescribed curriculum. I do what I need to do to meet the needs of each student. It’s flexible and adaptable. It’s not about ‘covering’ a year’s worth of curriculum; it’s about deep learning, about truly understanding concepts. It’s so awesome to see students get excited about subjects because for the first time, they get it.” Bass also loves collaborating with other teachers in her new role: “I have the opportunity to grow as a teacher and as a person here because of the amazing professionals that surround me. I’m working with Wendy Welshans in her Robotics class, and that is just the coolest thing. Where else would a Learning Specialist get to do that?”In addition of her meaningful work, Bass has even more reasons to smile at home. Christin and her husband, Matt, are settled in Litchfield with a new addition to their family: “Right now, my whole focus outside of work is my five-month old daughter, Ava. I’m just loving watching her grow. She just started belly-laughing and it’s the greatest sound to hear, and the best feeling to be the one making her laugh.”