November/December 2019 Issue
- Professional Development
October 19, 2019

ELT courses offer chance to learn from the best

Author: Sylvia Saunders
Source: NYSUT United
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elt instructor and student
Caption: Special education math teacher Joanna Krul, left, has taken several NYSUT Education & Learning Trust courses with longtime instructor Randi Azar. Photo provided.

Her secret weapon: NYSUT’s Education & Learning Trust.

As she starts her fifth year of teaching at Hewlett High School, Krul credits a long list of ELT courses, and Long Island instructor Randi Azar, with inspiring her to try a number of innovative lessons — and getting great results.

“Typically students in my self-contained class have struggled with math for a long time,” said Krul, a member of the Hewlett Woodmere Faculty Association. “My goal is to get students engaged and actually enjoy doing math.”

ELT’s “Mediated Learning” course proved to be a catalyst, Krul said. “With all the nice weather we’ve had, I came up with a hands-on lesson that would get students outside — moving and creating.” The objective was to find the height of a tree using similar triangles.

“For a not-so-math-savvy person, similar triangles have corresponding side lengths in proportion,” Krul explained. On the Geometry Regents, students need to be able to find a missing side of a triangle, given a similar triangle with the corresponding sides.

Using additional strategies from “Activating a Motivated and Engaged Brain” and “MAGIC” ELT courses, Krul created a project-based lesson where students would have to find the height of a tree given that the tree’s shadow is so many feet long and at the same time a five-foot tall person’s shadow is a certain length.

Students loved the hands-on team activity. “It was the culmination of so many things I learned from ELT,” Krul said. “It was amazing!” Turning abstract ideas into concrete activities enables students to experience a difficult concept so they can better understand it, Azar said. “The excitement of engagement helps to store the learning into long-term memory.”

In addition to sparking creative lessons, Krul said the ELT courses have helped her to earn thousands more each year since her local union contract provides compensation for her post-master’s level learning. “I’ll be at +75 credits when I finish two courses this fall,” she said, noting all but one course was through ELT.

ELT courses are considerably less expensive than typical graduate courses, Krul noted. “They’re always high-quality, taught by dynamic, experienced teachers,” she said. The classes are also a great way to connect with area educators.

“I’m so grateful for ELT classes and Randi in particular,” Krul said.

Azar, who retired after 33 years of teaching in Lawrence and is now starting her 17th year as a substitute teacher, loves to hear from her ELT participants about how courses have helped improve their teaching techniques.

“Our courses are constantly updated and responsive to what members need,” Azar said. “That’s my dream to hear how well things are working in the classroom.”

Free seminars for new members

NYSUT’s Education & Learning Trust offers courses for undergraduate, graduate and in-service credit. Offerings can help you meet certification requirements, obtain new certificate titles and earn Continuing Teacher & Leader Education (CTLE) hours.

As part of the union’s Next Generation NYSUT initiative, educators who are new NYSUT members are eligible for a free 5-hour online seminar. New member School-Related Professionals are also eligible for a free online SRP seminar. NYSUT members in their first five years on the job can save 50 percent off an 8-hour stand-alone seminar.

All NYSUT members receive discounts on ELT courses. For more, go to

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