At the beginning of the 2016-17 school year, the Emery District adopted the philosophy espoused by the Professional Learning Community (PLC) program, a research-based educational improvement approach designed to help all kids succeed in school no matter their skill level. The program now enters its second year in the district, and plans call for an even more aggressive continuation of the PLC philosophy.
According to Superintendent Larry W. Davis, last year’s rollout coincided with the awarding to the Emery District of the Teaching and Learning Grant from the Utah State Board of Education. “The grant funding has allowed us to provide professional development and establish resources to advance PLCs,” he said, pointing out that in the first year, the district offered training to administrators who were then able to conduct Collaborative Team meetings in their schools. Also, the grant funded participation of over 50 teachers and administrators at the July Rural Schools Conference in Cedar City which focused
Emery students to be released early on Sept. 18, for teacher PLC work
That training came into focus when teachers and administrators met for the Emery District Opening Institute on Aug. 21, at Emery High School. Two hours of that program were dedicated to PLC work in grade-level (elementary) and discipline-level (secondary) collaborative sessions.
Additional time for PLC work has been built into the district 3-year calendar which now gives teachers and administrators a full day at the end of each term to work within Collaborative Teams. Students are no longer required to attend school on the last day of each of the four terms. Less time, but certainly as important, has also been built into the yearly calendar at midterm for PLC purposes. The first of four mid-term early-out days is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 18.
On the early-out days, students will be released about noon at which time buses will make their runs (see sidebar). For the rest of the school day, teachers and administrators will meet in their Collaborative Team settings. Special arrangements will be made for students whose parents may not be able to accommodate an early-out schedule. Substitute teachers will be available at each school to provide educational services for children unable to go home early because of parent work schedules or other conflicts. For those children, it is important that parents contact their child’s school prior to the early-out date so that accommodations can be made.
Jeneane Warren, Emery District Food Services supervisor, said that breakfast and lunch will be served on these early-out days although each school will have to set up time for lunch that is compatible with the early-out busing schedule.
The district PLC plan calls for the creation of Collaborative Teams throughout the district and within each school. The teams come together to determine the most critical core standards, establish timelines for teaching those standards, and to develop common assessments. In addition, the teams utilize data to determine individualized educational plans for each student. Teachers will also be able to share strategies for success in helping students with unique educational needs. “PLCs rely heavily on collaboration among our teachers,” the superintendent said. “We have a wealth of data available from multiple sources, and it takes a team to break down the numbers and apply disaggregated outcomes toward individual student needs.”
For the first mid-term early out, elementary teachers will be working in grade-level groups at Cottonwood Elementary School while secondary teachers will work within their buildings in teams assigned by their principals. School and district administrators will be monitoring the procedure and progress of each team as they meet in their 2-hour sessions.
“By the end of the day, we want to know what was accomplished in these Collaborative Team meetings and how that can be applied to student academic growth,” the superintendent said. Early-out PLC training will continue at each midterm through the rest of the school year while full-day PLCs will be held on the last day of each term.
*Does not include Green River High School or Book Cliff Elementary
If you have questions of comments regarding this article go to the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org