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Unlocking Student Potential Through Teacher Collaboration Time
Learning Teams Update - October 15, 2012
Based on current challenges in our schools, as described by our educators and the preliminary feedback from the community, District leadership has decided to modify the direction and take a new tack in our pursuit of a District-wide teacher collaboration model.
The District's Strategic Plan was developed in 2009 with broad community involvement and support. The plan identified teacher collaboration as the key strategy for ensuring individual student growth. Dedicated and consistent time for collaboration will give teacher Learning Teams a more comprehensive view of students' instructional needs, resulting in greater academic achievement, individual student growth and personal success.
Over the past several years some of our schools, primarily at the elementary level, were able to provide time for collaboration by using substitutes to release teams of teachers. The use of substitutes is not sustainable or equitable as federal dollars are used, which only support some of our fifty-one schools. Middle schools once had more scheduling options in the past to support teachers working in teams, which have since changed due to our recent staffing reductions. Practices varied from school to school with inconsistent terminology.
As you may know, the District has been working with the Beaverton Education Association (BEA) to develop a sustainable model for teacher collaboration, including a description of the work and a draft proposal for a weekly late start. This model (Learning Teams) emphasizes student learning and supports best instructional practices of teachers.
Recently a comprehensive teacher survey was conducted to determine the level of teacher support and to help inform next steps. With over 1500 responses, the survey indicated enthusiasm at all levels for a collaboration model. However, there were concerns about starting Learning Teams in January and questions about the time and structure of the model. The many changes to our schools due to dramatic reductions have created stresses throughout the system. Many share the sentiment that in time capacity for this focus will be realized, as teachers clearly value the ability to work with one another as opposed to working in isolation.
Time is a valuable commodity. With increased class sizes, program reductions and eliminations, as well as overall financial duress, time has become even more precious, making this a sensitive topic for teachers, parents and the community. Listening to these concerns and focusing on implementation at a later date seems to be the compassionate, wise and strategic course to take at this time.
We recognize we have more work to do. Over time, we will continue to move forward with a collaboration model, but the late start will not be proposed at this time. Rather, we will continue conversations with staff, parents and community to pursue future options. Thank you for your continued support and involvement.
Learning Teams Update - August, 2012
The Beaverton School District is moving forward in conversation with the teachers’ association to plan for a consistent time to give teachers in every school the time to collaborate to analyze student data, and to develop different instructional strategies to reach students who may be struggling or who may need greater learning challenges.
Lilly is in third grade. Her family moved to the area several months ago. While she does well in most areas, she struggles in math. Her parents were apprehensive about the new school given Lilly’s progress in math. They met with the principal and learned that students come to school later than normal one day a week in order to provide teachers with time to work together to assess student strengths and challenges and to plan instruction. The principal shared impressive data that demonstrated individual student growth.
Lilly is personally known by the entire third grade team of teachers and specialists at her new school. The team looked at her achievement in math, identified her strengths and weaknesses, and then planned effective instructional interventions to raise her achievement. The results are in, and they are impressive. Her achievement in math skyrocketed from the single digits to over 80%.
How did this happen? It took a coordinated, in-depth approach that allowed her teachers to meet regularly to analyze and discuss her work, identify the gaps in her learning, and plan several instructional strategies to help Lilly soar in mathematics. The teachers collectively own her challenges and successes. Her parents can clearly see the pride and confidence Lilly has developed in math, and in school in general.
Lilly’s story illustrates the power of teachers regularly collaborating to know each student’s strengths and challenges, and to meet their specific learning needs, while strengthening their own teaching practices. Collaboration time gives teams of teachers an opportunity to view the whole child and results in greater academic achievement, individual student growth and personal success.
Over the past couple of years, several schools in the District have been able to carve out time for teacher collaboration, but with staff and budget reductions, this will not be feasible next year. With larger class sizes in the coming year, it will become even more important for teachers to work in teams to meet the needs of every student.View Teacher Collaboration Beaver Acres 3rd grade Video