Biology teacher tapped to help other teachers strengthen their courses, technical abilities

September 10, 2018 — by Jeffrey Xu

Biology Teacher Kristofer Orre moves from teaching students to teaching teachers.

Science teacher Kristofer Orre is no longer teaching freshman biology and anatomy/physiology in room 1021 this year, but he is still deeply engaged in what is going on in classrooms all over campus.

For the next two years, Orre will be a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA), mostly focusing on helping teachers with technology such as vodcasts, Canvas,  Blogger and Google Apps. He remains as the school’s after-school fitness coordinator.

As Orre puts it, instructional technology is “leveraging technology in a way that makes our classes more robust, collaborative, and relevant in the 21st century.”

His role also takes him to the Los Gatos High campus half of the time and he is working in all subject areas. In addition to his focus on technology, he is helping implement Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Common Core at both schools. NGSS is a set of science standards that revolve around teaching core concepts in each discipline.

“One of the things I’m most excited about is being able to help teachers with whatever they need help with,” Orre said. “Whether that’s designing a new lesson or activity or project or helping implement technology or observing and giving feedback, I can help them in any step of the process.”

As for NGSS and Common Core, Orre guides teachers in aligning their curriculums with those of the new standards. According to Orre, most teachers have already begun the process of changing what they teach to meet the standards, and Orre is helping them plan new activities and assignments to finish the change.

Orre said he first found out about the job opening at the end of May, when a previous TOSA, Nicole Dalesio, took another job. With Orre’s familiarity with technology, especially from implementing the “flipped classroom,” in his own classes, where students would watch video lectures at home and apply their newly gained knowledge during class in the form of projects and blog posts, he decided to apply.  

“The district advertised it, and with particular focus on instructional technology and NGSS adoption, it seemed like a good fit for me,” Orre said.

Special education teacher Brian Elliott said that Orre has helped out his department with Canvas. This year, special education teachers are implementing mini-lessons with a weekly focus, some of which include time management, learning styles and understanding accommodations.

Elliott also said that Orre is adjusting well to his new role, and Orre is helping them with their Individualized Education Program for students.

He is a very creative teacher, and he knows all the students,” Elliott said, adding, “I cannot think of a better person for this role.”   

Despite his new position and the many responsibilities that come with it, including attending district meetings, Orre is striving to find time for his responsibilities as a fitness instructor after school.

I was very particular that I wanted to continue [being a fitness instructor] because it's important for me to still see students and continue to help in this area,” Orre said.

Although Orre is still getting used to his new role, he has been able to balance all of his jobs around school. All in all, Orre enjoys becoming a resource to both students and teachers in his new role.

“I really love being in the classroom and hope to be there observing and helping teachers whenever possible,” Orre said.

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