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WDC Elementary utilizing ENVoY strategies to improve learning

ENVoY coach Marilyn McKeehen works with fourth-grade teacher Scott Woods on incorporating new learning strategies into the classroom.1 / 3
WDC fourth grade teacher Scott Woods utilizes ENVoY strategies in his classroom every day.2 / 3
WDC Paraprofessional Holly Johnson uses "The Wolverine Way" PAWS sign to prepare students to come in from recess.3 / 3

Wadena-Deer Creek School District is looking to improve academic achievement by using Educational Non-Verbal Yardsticks or ENVoY.

Several WDC teachers and support staff have already received ENVoY training and over the next three years all K-4 staff will learn effective strategies and techniques that help prevent disruptions and manage discipline within the classroom.

NJPA is providing about $75,000 to WDC Elementary to be used toward ENVoY training to become an ENVoY Certification and Demonstration Site.

WDC Principal Louis Rutten said the funding will assist with training teachers and support staff over the next three years or so.

"It is quite exciting for us since it'll provide teachers with training and coaching opportunities to learn classroom educational non-verbal strategies to help maximize time spent on curriculum. The student/adult relationships within our school will become even better as we learn to become more proficient with the ENVoY strategies," Rutten said.

The ENVoY approach is based on Michael Grinder's best-selling book for educators, "ENVoY: Your Personal Guide to Classroom Success."

ENVoY is the name given to a system of non-verbal techniques used to improve classroom climate, enhance student productivity and decrease the level of staff burnout. The non-verbal communication skills that staff members learn during ENVoY training will positively influence the single most powerful leverage point in education: the teacher/student relationship.

Teachers who utilize the full range of nonverbal management skills are able to reinforce consistent and fair parameters while preserving their relationships with each student, regardless of unique learning styles or cultural backgrounds.

Teachers who implement the ENVoY system gain an average of an hour more curriculum time per week. ENVoY is a vehicle to shift educators from seeing themselves as those in power to "instruments of influence."

NJPA coach Marilyn McKeehen has done coaching sessions and several WDC Elementary teachers have demonstrated the seven gems fluently. Some of the early adopters include kindergarten teachers Angie Moats, Mandy Gallant and Alyssa Morlock, first grade teacher Tracy Fruechte, third grade teacher Dan Savoie, art specialist Bethany Danielson and music specialist Mary Ellenson. They attest to the effect the seven gems, which include:

• Freeze body

• Above pause whisper

• Raise hand versus speak out

• Exit directions

• Most important 20 seconds

• Influence approach

• Off/neutral/on

Savoie shared his experience in a video.

"With the ENVoY coaching, it's just wonderful because it reiterates over and over that you're having that positive influence and non-verbal impact on the students," he said.

ENVoY isn't tied directly to the school year so it could be implemented at any time during the year, Savoie said.

"You gain more in depth curriculum time. It's not just getting the material covered. You're actually covering it so that they actually know it, learn it and retain it better, faster and for a lot longer," he said.

Students are able to concentrate for longer periods of time as well, which Savoie said is an invaluable tool.

The goal is for all staff to be trained on effective use of non-verbal strategies in classroom, recess and lunchroom management. At least 80 percent will be certified through ongoing coaching and professional development site visits, Rutten said.

"We've got some great momentum going and we look forward to seeing where we'll be in three years," Rutten said.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561