Tuesday, September 13, 2011

September 6th Professional Development

September 6th Professional Development

While students enjoyed an extra day in the sun on their Labor Day break, teachers were back in the classroom for the morning. Many people have asked, “What is it that teachers do on those professional development days?” Following is a synopsis of what was done during our 4-hour block of time on Tuesday, September 6th.

The morning began with small-group discussions of Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, a book that will be studied a chapter at a time throughout the school year. The book was selected by a committee of teachers dedicated to integrating technology in education and will help our staff to make good use of the many SMART boards, computers, and ipads the district purchased this year.

Following the book discussion, teachers attended practice sessions to increase their knowledge and experience in the use of SMART boards.

To insure application of new learning, teachers spent the next hour in grade-level and content area groups to create lessons based on recommendations from chapter 1 of the book study, technology training, and Iowa Core objectives.

Analysis of fall DIBELS data was the focus for K-2 teachers in the last part of the morning. This assessment gives teachers information about the basic early literacy skills of our youngest students. Teachers combined this information with what they had learned from district assessments and classroom observation to create lessons and activities that will move students forward in their learning.

New to grades 3-6 this year is the Skills Iowa assessment . Teachers in these grades attended a training session to learn about these assessments, which will give us information about students’ knowledge of the Iowa Core Curriculum.

Middle School and High School teachers performed a data review of fall MAP scores and learned how to access reports to better understand student achievement on the test.

To stay informed about professional development at Earlham Community School, check our blog often at dltecsd.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Professional Development and School Calendar

When I am asked questions about the school calendar, one common questions has been, "Why are there so many days for professional development?" According to the Iowa Professional Development Model:
  • The professional development process must ensure that teachers have adequate opportunities to learn and implement new curriculums, instructional strategies, and assessments. Teachers need to have sufficient workshop and workplace supports to develop a deep understanding of the theory of the strategy/model they are learning. Professional development design will build in time for teachers to learn together and to collaborate with each other. If teachers have opportunities to learn new content and implement it in their classrooms, the investment in professional development will pay off in increased student learning.
  • Professional development is a continuous process rather than a one-time event. To be able to transfer new learning into the classroom, teachers need multiple opportunities to see demonstrations, plan together, work out problems, rehearse new lessons, develop materials, engage in peer coaching, and observe each other.
In the development of a professional development schedule within the framework of a school calendar, the goal is to provide staff the opportunities to begin practicing and implementing their learning so it reaches the students without reducing the student learning time.

As indicated on the school calendar, the district is only dismissing classes early four times this year for professional development. In previous years, the district would dismiss classes early two or three times per month. By dismissing two hours early several times per month, the students were missing 6-8 instructional hours each month. The current year calendar has reduced that to 8 hours for the entire school year. In previous years, student would miss out on approximately 50 hours of instructional time in a school year. That is more than a full week!

In addition, the days in which there is NO SCHOOL for Professional Development are not counted as part of the required 180 student contact days. In other words, students don't lose any instructional time on these days as they are made up at a later time. I realize that this "extends" the school year, but I believe this is an effective way for the teaching staff of the district to improve and better serve the students of the Earlham Community School District.

Michael Wright
Superintendent of Schools

Friday, September 2, 2011

What's a DLT?

Thirteen elementary and secondary staff members comprise the District Leadership Team (DLT), which meets monthly to discuss and plan several initiatives, including designing and approving Professional Development and the implementation of the Iowa Core, in order to fulfill its purpose: to support the educational vision of the ECSD through constant communication and conversation and long-range planning after evaluating data.  Currently, the DLT is working on carrying out the actions in the district's Iowa Core Implementation Plan and investigating new initiatives with potential to increase student achievement. 

The DLT has developed a communication plan (see link at left) to share information with the district's stakeholders and plans to be rolling out several modes of communication this year.  If you have a comment, question or concern that you feel this group should know about, please use the feedback link at right to share your thoughts or contact a DLT member directly. A list of current members can be found on the right-hand side of this blog.