Schools put late-start Wednesday time to good use
Even teachers need to keep learning. Late-start Wednesdays in Clover Park School District (CPSD) offer teachers and staff the chance to do just that with consistent professional development in the form of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs).
A PLC is a group of educators who meet regularly to collaborate, share experiences and expertise and sharpen their teaching skills. All of that work happens with one goal in mind: increasing student success.
CPSD assistant superintendent for elementary schools Ron Banner likened PLCs to when young doctors do their rounds, following more seasoned physicians and learning from their superiors and each other.
“They talk to each other, they learn from each other, they bounce ideas off of each other,” Banner said. “It's learning by doing when teachers get together and they're collaborating in their work and they're going ‘Hey, this worked for me.’ and share that experience with everyone else.”
PLCs also offer the opportunity for educators to get together and discuss delivering and assessing the same content in each classroom so it is aligned to district curriculum.
“PLCs are a great opportunity for staff to be aligned in their work and extend their understanding of district standards,” said assistant superintendent for secondary schools Brian Laubach.
While PLCs have existed in CPSD for many years, late-start Wednesdays now offer a regular time for them to meet. Lakeview Hope Academy is one school that has put that consistent meeting time to good use.
“One of the biggest impacts we can have on student learning is working with your colleagues every week, having time set aside where you can talk about instructional strategies, have data on the table and talk about how we're moving forward,” said Lakeview principal Meghan Eakin.
At Lakeview, PLCs are given freedom in how they utilize their professional development time. They receive a basic topic to focus on, typically the new reading curriculum, but the teams work together to figure out the best way to discuss it.
“We as a team set a goal, we have an agenda so we know what we're going to talk about every week,” said Lakeview kindergarten teacher Kathleen Schwartze. “We get a chance to share our good strategies and experiences.”
Schwartze said the late-start Wednesday time has been invaluable to her teaching this year. In previous school years, the PLCs would meet in the middle of the day, which means someone else was teaching her class during that time.
“We don't always get into each other's classrooms but all of a sudden, we’re all trying these approaches other teachers have said worked for them,” Schwartze said. “It really makes a big difference.”