Using Collaborative Teams to Ensure All Students Learn
Van Meter embraces Professional Learning Communities (PLC's) as the way to implement the Iowa Core through a Mulit Tiered System of Supports (MTSS). To continually improve, teachers need time to analyze student data and reflect upon instructional practices. PLC's are not an event or a "here today, gone tomorrow" type of PD experience. Instead, PLC's are a way of doing business, a collaborative process for looking at continually improving learning. Even the state of Iowa recognizes the importance of collaboration as it passed legislation in 2012 requiring 36 hours of collaborative time for teachers outside of the instructional day.
The Big Ideas behind PLC's are the same as big ideas embedded in Van Meter's Mission. It doesn't work to focus on what was taught, to reward ourselves for our intentions, or to operate in isolation. We focus on learning; and we are all learners. We believe in results, not intentions. We believe collaboration improves any idea and removes the burden of isolation. We have expertise within our K-12 district team to make learning for Van Meter students second to none. We learn from our colleagues, from our personal learning networks and from our teams. We are a community of learners.
Multiple Modes of Professional Development
Our teachers have three modes of professional development that helps us capitalize on the expertise we have within our walls:
PLC collaborative teams meet once a week for 70 minutes to focus on student learning.
K-12 content teams use half of the full days of professional development that are embedded into the school calendar.
Building staff use the other half of the full days of professional development to focus on goals specific to their students.