Sustainability: Out-Live Out-Last Out-Reach  Panel

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Panel: Sustainability and Funding
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This message is in reply to:
will or culture - Michael Klentschy

Posted by: Jane Hazen Dessecker
Posted on: May 16, 2001 at 6:32 PM
The impetus for change has been the ending of our LSC, and the value to teachers we have found by having them get together to work collaboratively to solve problems. Added to this, is the pressure in our state for continuous improvement of student achievement. Mike Schmoker, author of Results, and Robert Eaker and Rick DuFour, co-authors of Professional Learning Communities have both visited our county and spoke to all administrators in our 17 districts, about the necessity of finding time for teachers to meet and changing the culture and belief system of teachers to believe they have a role in continuous improvement. We meet monthly with the curriculum directors and superintendents in the districts and ask them how they are doing. Each month someone shares a new strategy and how successful it has been. It acts as an encouragement for other districts to get involved. Last year, we had two districts that had delayed starts (teachers come regular time, kids stay home or come and have an assesmbly with a few subs or non-teachers. This year 5 districts have implemented that strategy. Others are changing schedules (block) and building in teacher time for teams every day. Some have negotiated (union) extra inservice days in which the teachers spread the hours out over the year to meet either before or after school. Some bank the time, they need to stay at school when the students leave (20 minutes) an hour and half and then several days get to leave when the students do.Some high school departments are buddying up and one department takes the classes of another department so they can meet. Rick DuFour says any building in 45 minutes of brainstorming can find ways for teachers to meet that do not cost money. Of course now that we are finding time for teachers to meet, we are working on ways to make it meaningful and not a "complaining" session. We use a inquiry cycle for continuous improvement focusing on student achievement data, which is having some success(Results book). An interesting reference on finding time is "Cracking the Calendar" Journal of Staff Development, Summer 2000 issue. We are in the "infancy" stage of this and it will certainly evolve over the years, but I do attribute much of the impetus to getting teachers together to our LSC.Note however, that this movement is more than for elementary science teachers; the idea has been embraced for all teachers.