I found the SMART training to be excellent. I was not sure what to expect when I started but quickly learned. I especially enjoyed the background information and data on frontal lobe development and growth in adolescents. The training was intense, fast-paced and knowledge-based. It was very well organized - one of the best training workshops I have been to in my teaching career (of thirty-six years!). The trainers and support staff were outstanding; all "paperwork" was taken care of for us and the materials and supplies were well done. I found Dr. Jacquelyn Gamino and her trainers to be approachable and ready to answer any and all questions.
When the training was completed, I felt more than prepared to go back to my classes and start the SMART program with my students. I was also very grateful for the support of knowing that Dr. Gamino and her other trainers would be coming to visit my classroom to model a lesson and help me with anything I needed.
I have continued to use the SMART terminology in teaching lessons and feel that my students are actually finding the deeper meaning of the reading selections much faster. I found that my special needs students are doing very well with the program. I saw confidence build with each lesson. For my two autistic students, the nonverbal SMARTgist lessons gave them an opportunity to truly feel confidence in their processing abilities.
Critical thinking skills are skills children can apply to all academic subjects and also in their lives outside of school. The SMART strategies were innovative and I have adapted them into my teaching approach. I now have my students look for the SMARTgist first and then the details to support it. I've gone from a "bottom up" approach to a "top down" one. I've also been more aware of allowing for more than one correct response as long as the "why" is included. The science teacher on my team is also very interested in the SMART and has been supportive of the program, by asking students during science lessons for the SMARTgist; the students are thrilled to use it in other classes.
I am most definitely interested in continuing to teach the SMART program in the future! This is a very worthwhile program and I would be a most willing participant. I found the SMART process to be inclusive and adaptable for all my students, and have received very positive feedback from parents and administration. The assistant principal at my school did evaluative "walk-through" during a SMART lesson. He was so impressed with the content of the program and also the involvement of my students that he returned for two more lessons. He commented repeatedly on the high level of thinking and responses from my students.