Training Is Ongoing at City's Schultz Center; Educators Are Learning Innovative Ways to Reach Their Students

Article excerpt

Byline: MARY KELLI PALKA

Some are new teachers, first year or two on the job. Others have worked in the field for decades. Some are coaches. Others are principals or district administrators.

All come to the Schultz Center for Teaching & Leadership in Jacksonville or log on to its Web site to continue developing their skills.

The ultimate goal is to help improve the education of North Florida's students.

Each day at the center is different. Some of the educator/students log in through video conferencing. Some find courses online. But hundreds are often in the building off Art Museum Drive for one-on-one training.

One recent day, Nov. 19, was typical.

8:45 a.m.

Nine principals are gathered in a room. What they say in this room as part of the Schultz Principal Academy stays in this room. It's where they exchange ideas on how to manage their schools, lead their teachers and make sure students are educated.

Four of the principals, among them Michele Floyd Hatcher from Westview K-8 and Jackie Simmons Jr. from Ed White High, are sitting in a circle of chairs. Five others are in an outer circle around them.

It's called a "Fishbowl configuration," and it's used for group conversations. Emmy Peters, the Schultz director of coaching, is leading this group of principals. Another group is off in another room.

One of the points of the exercise is to give the principals an idea of how to set up some group discussions at their own schools. Each of them lets Peters know it's something they thought they could use.

9:30 a.m.

Paty Savage, the Schultz Center's instructional technology director, is sitting in her office with her desktop computer set up to her e-mail and her laptop set up to the center's Web site. She's creating an online professional learning community for science, technology, engineering and math teachers at Lee High, just like she'd done for other programs and schools. She said she gets positive responses for the users.

When she's done, the teachers will be able to log on and have access to courses, forms, a place to have discussion with each other and numerous other resources.

Minutes later, she logs on to her Twitter account, @patysavage, to share tips with her followers on how to use PowerPoint.

10:25 a.m.

Eddie Kiep is holding up three polystrips in front of a room of eight elementary school teachers. He wants them to use the strips to build triangles based on three sides of various different lengths. The math coach wants the teachers to take notes of what lengths of sides don't work together.

Kiep is teaching them concepts their own students will learn as they move into other grades. His lessons refreshing their minds on some of the basic concepts they teach their students now - such as shapes.

10:45 a.m.

Rachel Manser, a second-grade teacher at R.L. Brown Elementary, is standing with a group of other teachers at the front of a room. They're presenting a commercial they've just developed about the book, "Wet Dog," to laughter and applause from their colleagues.

Diane Brooke, an instructional coach, is stressing the importance of teachers having their students retell what they've read. She tells them it will help them determine what the reader thought was important in the book, how they organize and sequence information and other indicators of how they comprehend what they read.

So Manser and her group of fellow teachers are demonstrating one way they can get students to retell what they've read, such as by creating a commercial about the story.

10:54 a.m.

Diane Landschoot is busy typing on the computer in her office. The science instructional coach is working on her lessons for the next day - when she'll visit North Shore K-8.

It'll be her eighth and final session with math, science and language arts teachers from the school. …