New school year brings changes to in-service days

Sep 21, 2012 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Instructors gather every Wednesday morning for shorter sessions in smaller groups, or "professional learning communities."

School officials say Riverton teachers will be more invested in implementation of the state's new core standards this year because of a change in format for their regular in-service days.

Administrators usually schedule time in every school semester for collaboration and discussion of student progress, but this year instead of reserving several separate days for the meetings, officials have asked instructors to gather every Wednesday morning for shorter sessions in smaller groups, or "professional learning communities."

Students will start school at 8:45 a.m. every Wednesday this year, with activities and tutoring available for students wishing to arrive at the normal time. Fremont County School District 25 Superintendent Terry Snyder said the students will not lose any class time for the year due to the PLCs.

Productive PLCs

Riverton High School principal JoAnne Flanagan has headed organization of the PLC schedule, and she said the format has been "really productive."

During the most recent PLC time, Flanagan said teachers were able to break into core groups so they could focus on individual subjects.

"In a typical school day it's hard to find time for teacher collaboration -- all of the math teachers have different planning periods," Flanagan said. "Now they can talk about, 'My kids bombed this test but yours aced it, what did you do differently?'"

Fremont County School District 25 assistant superintendent Kim McKinnon said the PLCs also allow teachers to define more clearly their goals for the year.

"This is different from what we've done for a lot of years," McKinnon said during Tuesday's Board of Trustees meeting. "For the past 10-20 years, we've adopted programs and taught teachers how to implement it. This backs up one step and says before we do that, what are we all about? How do we define the standards (and) how do they play out in instruction and learning for kids? ... This is exciting to watch play out. It's very engaged time."

After they define what they want students to learn in each subject and grade level, Flanagan said teachers will move on to discussions about measurement of student progress. From there, they will talk about ways they can work with students who aren't achieving the state's core standards of learning.

"This is exciting to watch play out," McKinnon said. "I appreciate the quality of the work."

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