St. Charles Schools Deserve an 'A' for Creativity in Training

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), October 19, 2003 | Go to article overview

St. Charles Schools Deserve an 'A' for Creativity in Training


Byline: Kurt Gessler

Better teachers mean better students.

And as such, educating its educators is part and parcel of every school district's mission.

The St. Charles School District next month will introduce a pilot professional development program at North High School.

Respectable but not spectacular test scores prompted officials to sign off on the idea. Continuing education, they say, fell away as enrollment increased and budgets thinned. Other districts, like Naperville, have done a better job, officials said.

Under the program, staff members will meet twice monthly at 7:20 a.m. for an hour of collaboration, where teachers who handle the same courses get into small groups to share ideas, set goals and develop classroom assessments.

On those two days, regular classes will start an hour later, which has provoked a few grumbles from parents who already weathered one schedule shift. Just last month, officials opted to ring the bell 10 minutes earlier to ease a busing crunch.

Despite starting an hour later, classes still get out at the same time. Classes are compressed, meaning each of the 7.5 supervised periods will be 41 minutes instead of 47. The three- minute announcement time also will be canceled those days.

The biggest inconvenience seems to be that buses will run as usual. This leaves students with the option of finding their own way to school at 8:20 a.m. or riding the buses and hanging around the learning center or cafeteria to study and socialize. Administrators will be on hand to supervise the students, though at Stevenson High School - where officials borrowed the idea - only 10 percent of kids actually arrive early. This is about as surprising as giggles in sex ed, as I suspect many kids would walk to North from Elburn rather than arrive early.

Two hours a month may not seem like much, but it's a creative way to fit in goal-focused training without leaving a footprint on the school day. Teacher contracts are rigid. You cannot extend the school day, so mandatory before- or after-school sessions are out. …

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