Nov 21, 2012 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff WriterRiverton teachers said they got what they always wanted this year --time to talk about their jobs with their peers.
Fremont County School District 25 initiated "late-start Wednesdays" this school year so teachers could meet once a week to discuss the implementation of Wyoming's new core standards.
"That time is more valuable than anything for a teacher," Riverton High School math instructor Brant Nyberg told district trustees during a board meeting Nov. 13. "It's a big job to transition your standards."
He has been working with his colleagues in the high school math department to determine instructional priorities for Riverton's oldest students. Eventually, RHS principal JoAnne Flanagan said teachers at the high school level will meet with instructors throughout the district to integrate their standards.
"Everybody at every level needs to look at what the standards mean for every grade level," Flanagan said. "I can't speak to second grade (standards). The second grade needs to pull their math stuff and say, 'This is what we feel to be crucial.' ... That's how we start that articulation from grade level to grade level."
Teachers at the kindergarten through second-grade levels especially appreciate the regularly scheduled meetings, because Riverton's younger students are housed in three separate buildings.
"We don't usually get to do across-the-district (work where) all first-grade teachers get together," Jackson Elementary School reading coach Kristi Dale said. "That has been wonderful. ... The conversations are rich, the questioning of each other. What we're doing is very valuable."
Aspen Park Elementary School principal Andrea Verosky has noticed an exchange of ideas among newer and more-experienced instructors, who bring diverse knowledge and backgrounds to weekly conversations about the best ways to teach core standards.
"We're meshing all of those thoughts together, and it's just been a great process," Verosky said.
The "professional learning community" format has been beneficial for Rendezvous Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Jeri Lampert, who thanked Flanagan and assistant superintendent Kim McKinnon for organizing the weekly meetings.
"We have an agenda every week (so) we know exactly what we're doing," Lampert said. "We look at a standard and really pull it apart. ... The template has really helped a lot."
She added that the weekly gatherings are more useful to her than the scattered in-service days previously scheduled in the district.
"This amount of time is so much better --you can relax," she said of the Wednesday PLC meetings. "(And) this is every week, so there's a lot of continuity in what we're doing."
Once instructors have completed the examination of their new core standards, Flanagan said their teaching priorities will be saved for review by newcomers to the district.
"That way as we turn teachers over and get new teachers in (we can) ensure every student is getting the (same) curriculum," she said.
Superintendent Terry Snyder said administrators were hoping to generate consistency among grade levels and subject areas through the PLC work.
"We do this with the bottom line of being fair to kids," Snyder said. "It shouldn't matter who your teacher is or what building you're in. You should get the same opportunity to learn."
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