E39 – Jeff Gargas / COO and Co-founder Teach Better Team

The corporate world typically uses a system of having employees learn at their own pace. If they master a concept, they move forward. If they don’t, they stay until it’s mastered. If this is so effective, why aren’t we implementing this strategy in our schools? CEO of TeachBetter, Jeff Gargas shares his One Big Tip for how we can start seeing the highly effective grid method in the classroom.

No Student Left Behind

Jeff started his journey with TeachBetter when his co-founder realized that the current teaching method wasn’t working for a good portion of his students or for him. “He was just creating it to survive as a teacher,” Jeff explains, “and it started seeing a lot of success.”

The problem was that not every student learned concepts at the same speed, but there was a pace that needed to be maintained if they were going to make it to the end of the year. This mindset ended up leaving students behind in their learning.

Jeff gives an example. “If you think about when you're young in your math class, and I say, ‘What's two plus two?’ You say, ‘six.’ I say “No, but it's now Tuesday, so we're moving on. Now, we're going to talk about multiplication.’”

“Most kids who struggle in the middle school and high school levels,” Jeff continues, “are struggling because there was some sort of gap formed back usually early on in their education. And eventually, they started to just consider themselves dumb. Or they figured out that ‘If I try really hard, I fail. If I don't try, I also fail.’ So it's a lot easier to not try and become marked as a student that isn't great at school or isn't super intelligent or maybe isn't reachable.

The Grid Method

The solution that Jeff and his TeachBetter team offer is the Grid Method. “The grid method, Jeff says, “is a framework for running and utilizing personalized, self-paced mastery learning. It’s really a shift to ‘how do we focus now on the mastery of content?’”

Rather than focus on whether a student finished a particular chapter or worksheet, that focus is shifted to whether a student understood what they needed from that lesson. This is called “master learning.” The Grid Method is a way to implement master learning for a lesson unit in schools. Jeff noticed this method during his time in the quick-service industry. New hires would learn the basic concepts of food preparation before moving onto the register and customer service and eventually onto management. No one moves forward until they’ve mastered the previous tier. If we can do it there, why not in education?

To learn more about the Grid Method and how it can help your teaching strategy or even your management skills at work, you can find information about it and the template at teachbetter.com. You can also visit their social media pages @teachbetterteam or reach out to Jeff personally on Twitter @jeffgargas.