Our Opportunity: Learning with Dr. Schmoker

With just a week before our September 17 professional development day, I’d like to provide some background information and context to set the stage for what promises to be an exciting day of meaningful shared learning. This day is a collaborative effort among the Cedar Falls, Denver, Clarksville, Independence, Janesville, Tripoli, and Waverly-Shell Rock School Districts that will bring together more than 800 area educators here in our district.
The morning session will be an interactive presentation from Dr. Mike Schmoker entitled The Opportunity: From “Brutal Facts” to the Best Schools we’ve Ever Had. Dr. Schmoker will provide a reality check about schools, effective teaching and learning, and reform efforts. He will further clarify what it means to work as a professional learning community to improve student learning. This is an important opportunity for us to begin to move from a vision for teacher collaboration to action that develops and supports a professional learning community.

We say we value time for teachers to talk to each other about evidence of student learning. We say we want all our teachers to be members of highly functional teams that engage in ongoing cycles of questioning to promote deep team learning. We say we need a structure that allows teachers to collaborate on a regular basis in a way that facilitates both common learning and individualization. We say that we are the people we’ve been waiting for, that there are steps we can take right now to move closer to our vision.

Next Friday will be our first district-wide opportunity to define what those steps look like. Throughout the day you will have opportunities to process individually, as well as with your colleagues within and beyond our district. Remember, the time to act is now; come ready to think, collaborate, and learn!

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