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Finding ways to improve teacher performance was the focal point —some might say a flash point —for the four-day school week. We clearly need to do a better job of helping teachers meet the classroom challenges of the 21st century.
There are many traditional ways of providing professional development to teachers and administrators such as the drop-ins, one-shot professional learning, videographers who offer artificial situations in staged classrooms and book distributors who share the most modern, up-to-date bells and whistles and beautiful transparencies guaranteed to engage students.
The four-day school week will provide teachers with plenty of professional development, focusing on helping teachers become better at their craft.
The theme of the new school year will be “Every Child, Every Day.” The goal of our new school year is instruction. The objectives will be to increase academic achievement and elevate the growth of “every child, every day.” Mentoring and coaching will provide consistent professional development grounded in research-based best practices focusing on the common standards. On a 4-3 vote, Colorado became the 33rd state to adopt the common standards.
From our curiosity of researching the four-day school week, instructional coaching is basically advice and counsel designed to meet the needs of a specific teacher. On selected Fridays, teachers will assist teachers to understand what data to collect, analyze and use to improve instruction. Intensive collaboration and planning will occur to ensure high-quality instruction is delivered in the teacher’s instructional design. Fridays will provide ongoing professional development to the school’s entire faculty, which will encourage staff members to become part of a community of learning and practice.
We will work together to strengthen teaching, with the ultimate goal of improving student engagement and learning. Using a “train the trainer” approach, mentors and teachers can model successful practices. Mentors provide ongoing support to teachers, who in turn will learn new strategies in their classroom as well.
In professions such as medicine and law, mentoring and coaching are built into the training of practitioners. What we are trying to do is similar: To institutionalize a powerful model of professional development grounded in long-standing theory and practice.
Teachers receive plenty of professional development, but most of it does not stick — and not enough of it is focused on helping them become better at their craft. It is time for a new strategy. It is time to improve teacher quality by personalizing professional development. The four-day school week will provide quality teaching, which equates to successful learning.
— Williams is superintendent
of the Rangely School District