Smaller learning communities have been built up in order to help teachers and schools handle larger class sizes by keeping like-minded students together. As part of those learning communities, teachers themselves are involved in professional learning communities whose primary goal is to meet the needs of the students. The new program is a chance for all subject and/or activity-related teachers to get together and see where the gaps are in what students are learning.
“We sometimes stop at just the point where more work is needed,” said Davis High School teacher Pam Coburn. She presented the Davis School District Board of Education with information on the pilot program, alongside other teachers from Davis High School.
Once smaller learning communities were developed, some teachers saw the opportunity for more work to be done in helping students achieve. At Davis High School, every teacher is required to be a part of at least one professional learning community, and some are part of several.
“It gives us a chance to see what the students are lacking and what we can do to help,” said Coburn.
The group who developed this program includes Coburn, Alyssa Cowdin, Amber Williams, Natalie Abendroth, Jay Welk and Scott Nielson, all from Davis High School. A few of the teachers presented the idea to the board recently, and were approved to pilot the program for the first semester of the 2009-10 school year. The program will be re-evaluated in January before continuing.
“The superintendency was not only encouraging, but said something about the enthusiasm from our teachers,” said Coburn.
As part of the program, the group presented a pyramid of intervention, which is designed to catch students before they fall through the cracks. As teachers meet each Monday to talk about what is happening to students — not only academically, but socially and behaviorally as well — they can try to pin-point what is causing a student to stop learning.
“It helps us look at the whole scope of the problem,” said Coburn.
The teachers who originally developed the idea broke the process of helping students into different focuses. Some of those include development, tutorials, advisories, transition for sophomores and small learning communities themselves. They would also like to see parents get involved and come to the school if they have questions. Coburn said lastly, they’d like to get a student-teacher component going as well.
“I’m really looking forward to having Monday mornings to catch up on homework or catch up on sleep,” said Davis High School student body president, Daniel Houston.
Teachers have also said they are looking forward to finding solutions to problems in learning. Coburn said the group will keep track of data and information to use for future development.