The 2017-2018 school year is upon us and teachers across the district are welcoming new students, new classrooms, and new technology. Students over the summer received a change to their ID’s that will allow them to access google classroom, where teachers can post assignments and communicate directly with their classrooms.
Another change taking effect is the late start on Mondays at the high school. Students will report to school at 9 am instead of 8 am. Each class period will be shortened slightly (5-10 minutes). Many parents and community members have wondered what the purpose is for the late start. Teachers will be there at their usual time and will use that hour to collaborate, and to develop lessons that align with state standards. Teachers at the high school often work on their own, relying on chance meetings in the hallways with other instructors to help them improve their instruction. The hour on Monday is designed for teachers to improve their craft.
You might wonder, “is that necessary?” Research shows that the most powerful agent of change in a school is the teachers themselves, and how they interact with each other to share resources and ideas. Unfortunately, due to the schedule at the high school, there is very little time for teachers to talk to each other. For example, there are four teachers who teach freshman biology. They may try to keep their lessons similar and their tests comparable, but without time to talk to each other, this task is made difficult. If one teacher has a great lesson on photosynthesis, the other teachers who teach the same subject might not even be aware of the strategy.
Education Week has a wonderful article about the effects of teacher collaboration: “For School Improvement, Demographics Aren’t Destiny.” The article discusses how improvements in academic outcomes haven been recorded in schools where teachers were given the time to work together, focus on the best ways to teach and discuss what was important for students to know. Just minor changes to a schedule to allow for these interactions can have a huge impact on student success.
Our first meeting of the science department was spent coordinating how best to achieve these goals.