Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Teachers and administrators in Hayden's schools are reviewing curriculums to determine which aspects are particularly important for students to learn.
The process is the first step in working toward Professional Learning Communities, an education model that encourages teacher collaboration in assessing students and helping them work toward achievement goals.
Superintendent Mike Luppes gave the first of what likely will be many updates on the schools' progress in developing the model at the Hayden School Board meeting Wednesday night.
Developed by educator Richard DuFour, the PLC model has been implemented in schools throughout the nation. Several Hayden teachers and administrators attended PLC conferences last summer and fall to learn about the concept.
But in addition to excitement about the process, there also have been questions and concerns, particularly about whether the model would alter curriculums, Luppes said.
"It's not a new curriculum," he said. "It's not changing what gets taught in those classrooms."
Luppes explained the model is built on four basic questions: what do students need to learn?; how will staff know whether students are learning it?; what should be done about students who haven't learned it?; and what should be done if students already know it?
After pinpointing the most important lessons within curriculums and comparing those with other grade levels to make sure there is no overlap, staff will begin assessing students to determine if they are learning concepts.
The next step will be the most challenging and will involve coming up with strategies to ensure students who haven't absorbed lessons are helped immediately rather than left behind, Luppes said.
Finally, staff will work together to make sure high-achieving students have just as much room for advancement as students working toward lower achievement goals.
"There's some major, major work there, and it will take a lot of time," he said about the PLC process.
Also at the School Board meeting, school administrators reported good overall attendance at parent-teacher conferences last week. Hayden Valley Elementary School had the best attendance with 96 percent of students' parents participating. About 90 percent of students' parents attended the conferences at Hayden Middle School.
Parent participation at Hayden High School wasn't as positive with only 30 percent of parents showing up for the meetings. This concerned Principal Troy Zabel, who said one of the goals of the high school School Improvement Team was to consider ways to make the conferences more effective.
"I think right now we're just going through the motions because we've always had conferences," he said, noting that most of the parents whom staff needed to talk to did not show up to the conferences.
In other business, Zabel reported that he was pursuing grants to fund a student lounge in the entry area of the school to give students a place to relax and to cut down on hallway and off-campus problems. The lounge could include modular furniture, a DVD player, foosball tables and a cappuccino machine.
Zabel also suggested the district seek local funding for a school brochure providing information about the Hayden School District at banks, real estate offices, teacher hiring fairs and other places.
"I don't think we do a very good job selling ourselves," he said.
-- To reach Tamera Manzanares call 871-4204 or e-mail email@example.com