Coach Spotlight: Brian Hawkins

In this series we highlight the instructional coaches who take our work to the next level, going into classrooms and out-of-school time (OST) programs to collaborate with the educators using our game-based learning. Our instructional coaches are former educators who are passionate about expanding access to real-world learning experiences, and we’re grateful to have them on the Classroom, Inc. team!

“Classroom, Inc. is an organization that builds culturally responsive programs. The characters in our games are diverse, reflective of the students who use Read to Lead. We provide a culturally responsive ELA program that is helping improve literacy skills, and at the same time, infusing joy, because it’s all interactive.” –Read to Lead Instructional Coach Brian Hawkins 

Brian Hawkins is one of Classroom, Inc.’s newest coaches, but he brings a wealth of knowledge as an educator to the program. He has 10 years of experience as English teacher, and also has a degree as a registered nurse. Though he opted to have a career in nursing, he still wanted to work in education and literacy. After finishing a degree in administration from Columbia University, he applied for a consulting role with Classroom, Inc., helping educators use Read to Lead in their classrooms and out-of-school time programs.

Because Mr. Hawkins has taken a non-traditional career path, he appreciates that Read to Lead offers a customizable approach for teachers based on what they and their students need most. 

Like many coaches, he doesn’t have a standard approach, and enjoys coming in and assessing the needs of each site he works with. For example, one of the ELA teachers he currently works with uses Read to Lead to improve student writing, and he is able to use the in-game lessons and assessments to help students improve their skills in that particular area. 

In addition to growth in measurable academic skills such as reading comprehension, Mr. Hawkins has also seen his students grow in areas of leadership and development of agency. One of his favorite aspects of the program is helping coach the students as they learn how to become citizens outside of the classroom, and plan service projects that benefit their communities.

“One of the things that’s attractive about our program is that there isn’t a lot of pressure on the students or on the educators. Teachers are under so much pressure to have everything standards-based, and every principal needs to know that programs are standards-aligned,” Mr. Hawkins said. “One of the strengths of our program are the service projects where students are put in positions of being the boss to do a PSA or some kind of community service where they are a leader.”

As an Instructional Coach, Mr. Hawkins finds the lessons and games of Read to Lead are a unique type of blended learning he believes every student should have access to.

“Blended learning to me is providing those digital skills that will still be relevant in the future, and there are different definitions of blended learning! Different educators have different ideas about what those definitions are,” Mr. Hawkins said. “But it all has a digital component. Every student needs access to these programs.”