Our highly qualified teachers are the foundation of our academic programs at Van Allen Elementary School. Teachers take part in Professional Development Days and Professional Learning Community (PLC) Collaboration minimum days. The main focus of Professional Development Days this year has been our districtwide PLC initiative. PLC Collaboration Minimum Days are site based and support the PLC process. During collaborations teachers identify guaranteed standards, analyze student work and assessment data from common formative and summative assessments, research and share best practices, and plan lessons and units. In addition, site based PLC collaborations are provided monthly with sub release.
Teachers receive regular feedback from the principal on their use of instructional objectives, checks for understanding, and Depth of Knowledge (DOK). These are areas that teachers have received professional development in to improve their instruction. Teachers are also expected to use sentence stems to encourage students to respond in complete sentences. All new teachers receive a week long training in Guided Learning Acquisition and Design (GLAD), by certified GLAD trainers. Updated training in GLAD strategies is also available to all teachers annually.
Staff meeting time is allocated twice a month for sharing of information, strategies, and resources to increase teacher effectiveness. Our staff has been working together to develop questions and tasks for the different DOK levels. Currently, at least one teacher from each grade level has received in depth training in PLC, and we are diligently working towards answering the 4 guiding questions: What do we want students to learn? How will we know if they are learning? How will we respond if they haven’t learned? How will we respond if they have learned?
This year the Instructional Rounds process is teacher led. A team of teachers will be collecting data on our Problem of Practice: At Van Allen School we will develop number sense through collaborative conversations, Number Talks, targeted mathematical tasks, key academic vocabulary, math games, and use of manipulatives. Learning that is gleaned from this process is shared with the entire teaching staff to ensure that outcomes are increased for all students.