College Board Fellow Savanna Flakes on the Importance of Teacher Preparation, and Instilling the Growth Mindset in Students
College Board Fellow Savanna Flakes on the Importance of Teacher Preparation, and Instilling the Growth Mindset in StudentsMichael Preston, Senior Communications Specialist
Savanna Flakes is one of the 21 inaugural members of the College Board’s Professional Fellowship Program. A National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certified teacher and inclusion specialist in the Alexandria City (Va.) Public Schools, she received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh and a master’s degree in teaching from American University. She is dedicated to integrating students with severe disabilities into mainstream classrooms through sharing best practices and professional development opportunities with secondary teachers and administrators.
“The essential ingredient to student success is having a teacher who has a repertoire of highly effective instructional strategies to match a variety of student needs,” Flakes says. “By providing teachers with a wealth of engaging, evidenced-based instructional practices and then allocating specific time to plan their implementation of the strategies, teachers leave ready to have a positive impact on student achievement.”
Through the College Board’s Professional Fellowship Program, which supports the efforts of rising African American, Latino, and Native American leaders who are focused on eliminating achievement and attainment gaps in their schools, colleges, and communities, Flakes is able to support her ongoing professional development efforts by attending events and providing virtual coaching and feedback sessions for educators around the country.
A strong believer in the growth mind-set — the idea that students should believe they can get better at a skill or subject through effort, good teaching, and practice — Flakes spends considerable time talking to educators about how to introduce that thinking to their students.
“My goal is to help leaders, teachers, and parents internalize and teach this mind-set,” she states. “This mind-set also lays the groundwork for teachers and learning communities to proactively differentiate instruction and be responsive to the needs of all learners. I believe student achievement will increase if this fundamental foundation of high expectations and goals exists.”
In addition to her work with the Alexandria City Public Schools, Flakes is a developmental English professor at Northern Virginia Community College and an adjunct professor at American University. She has presented nationally on a range of topics, including co-teaching, classroom management, and differentiation, and has been a featured speaker at the Council for Exceptional Children International Conference and the National Alliance of Black School Educators Conference.