December 19, 2017

By Patrick O’Connor

As a territory manager, I have the privilege of chatting with the best and brightest in education on a daily basis. While every school is special in its own way, there are some that really stand out as innovative and inspiring.

I’ve had the honor of working with a school from one of the largest districts in Arizona. Despite many challenges, students are making huge strides and overcoming obstacles in creating a better life through educational success. I love playing a smart part in this success, and it’s the core reason I want to share the amazing success this school (and district) is realizing.

 

Creating Audio Equity

At one point or another, equity is an issue that all schools face. Since the school is so close to the Mexican border and is a popular area for refugees of many cultures, many students are English Language Learners (ELLs). Their families are highly mobile, and have challenges many of us do not think about or consider. With so many outside factors making student learning more challenging, educators in the school aim to create a supportive classroom environment where every child has equal access to the tools they need to be successful in the classroom and carry those skills into adulthood.

That’s where the Redcat Access comes in. This simple classroom audio tool provides students with equal access to clearly hear every word the teacher says – no matter their location in the classroom. It fills every "chair" (brain) with intelligible instruction from the teacher or the students.

District leadership reached out about the power of soundfield technology and how audio systems can help every student, not just ELLs or those with hearing impairments. Their passion for helping students succeed is second to none.

When we first started discussing Redcats they were dreaming big: one audio system in every classroom throughout their entire district. We knew this wasn’t financially possible all at once. As a team, we created a plan to invest in one school at a time to show the positive impact audio systems can have on students and teachers.

 

The Implementation

In 2016, the first elementary school was selected and an audio system went into every classroom. The school is situated in the middle of a neighborhood with a significant population of Somali refugees. This population is very different from traditional ELLs as some of them have fled from very remote areas. Some of the students may have never even been in a school before.

After a few days of using the audio systems, teachers said they were “magical.” They no longer had to strain their voices to be heard, and students were clearly hearing every word, engaged, and on task. Teachers use the systems on a daily basis during group instruction and during student presentations. Students love using the microphone to speak. They say it makes them feel like celebrities!

 

Long-term Goals

This year, the school hopes to collect qualitative data on student achievement to see what sort of impact the Redcat Access has on test scores. The district has a plan of outfitting every one of its schools/classrooms over time to create equity for every student.

When I talk with the school's educators and the district's administrators, their passion for teaching and learning is contagious. They say investing in audio systems is well worth the money, as it doesn’t only make a teacher’s life easier, but provides equity to students and creates a classroom environment where everyone is comfortable and educational success is attainable.

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Pat O'Connor

Pat O'Connor

Patrick O’Connor has been a territory manager for Lightspeed for ten years, covering Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming.

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