MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

October 13, 2012

Top Hilldale official seeks more structure in teachers’ meetings

— Hilldale School Superintendent Kaylin Coody says she wants more structure in teachers’ meetings.

Coody said she plans to meet with faculty over the next few weeks about developing professional learning communities — groups focused on improving classroom practices through collaboration.

“They take a more individualized look at students,” Coody said. “They talk about student needs and how do they do intervention for these students.”

She said Hilldale teachers already meet in groups according to grade level and subject. However, she wants a structured approach.

“The idea is to get people talking,” she said. “It is an opportunity to look at data and be creative.”

She said teachers can get together to discuss and compare what they do. She said the groups review student scores and other benchmarks.

For example, instead of focusing on what went wrong, a teacher can ask another “What did you do differently that worked?” Coody said.

She said the district must find the time — a set time — for professional learning communities to meet.

Muskogee Public Schools has had professional learning communities for at least three years.

“PLCs give everyone a voice,” MPS professional development director Melony Carey said. “They foster collective efficacy, which helps us move student achievement forward. It gives a place to effectively study data and find solutions and strategies for instruction.”

Professional Learning Communities at MPS elementary schools and Alice Robertson Junior High meet Wednesday mornings, Carey said. School starts at these sites 30 minutes later on Wednesdays.

Coody said it is too early in the process to say if Hilldale PLCs will take time out from a school day to meet.

Hilldale educators also need PLCs to handle the many changes and mandates coming from the state, she said.

“There is a lot of data we will be asked to discuss,” Coody said, citing the Common Core Curriculum as an example. Oklahoma schools are replacing the current state curriculum with the Common Core, which is considered more rigorous.

Cristi Thomson, president of Hilldale Association of Classroom Teachers, said educators do need more time to meet.

“So many times at school, we don’t have time to sit and ask other teachers, ‘How did you do this?’” Thomson said. “Professional learning communities are ways for us to collaborate.”

Teachers at each grade level already meet together, Thomson said.

“But, this is a way for a teacher to say, for example, ‘You did this in kindergarten, now we’re ready to do this in the first grade,” Thomson said.

Hilldale Middle School Principal Darren Riddle said teachers meet before and after school.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

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