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Wacky Wednesday #1

Today, most, but not all, District 150 primary school students will be getting out of school 90 minutes early (1:45 instead of 3:15) as part of the School Board’s new “Wacky Wednesday” plan. During the 90 minutes of school the children will be missing, the teachers are supposed to be collaborating, learning from each other, making alterations to their curriculum and instructional techniques as a result, with the end goal of being more effective teachers. This is supposed to translate into better student performance — enough improvement to more than compensate for the lost instructional time during Wacky Wednesdays.

I encourage all parents to ask their children’s teachers tomorrow what they did during their teacher collaboration time this afternoon, what new techniques they learned, and how they’re altering their teaching styles as a result. I’d also like to find out what metrics the district is using to determine if this effort is successful or not. Are they going to base it on the rise or fall of standardized test scores?

26 comments to Wacky Wednesday #1

  • Sharon Crews

    Please will someone ask for FOIA data about plans at all the schools involved–for both the teachers and the students. I would, but I already have 3 outstanding FOIA requests going. I have heard that in some schools parents will have to pay $3 if they children stay at school.

  • Raoul Duke

    Does this mean that all extracurricular activities are moved to earlier times? (sports practices ect.) Or will the kids go home and then come back later, I would hate to think that the coaches and teachers running all the sports and other after school activities will be short-changed on the think tank sessions.

  • It wouldn’t matter what staff did during these meetings, no answer will satisfy the unhappy. However, instead of bombarding staff, parents could contact administration to learn the agenda of these meetings.

  • Sharon Crews

    Asking for the agenda might work. However, I think (not sure) that each school would have its own agenda–which may or may not comply with the District’s stated intentions. Those of us who followed this procedure from start to finish were very well aware of the complete lack of planning. At each board meeting, the administration assured board members that plans were proceeding–but no specifics were ever provided. Taxpayers are paying for this time, and students are losing out on instruction time–so I believe that the District owes the public–not just parents–proof that plans for this day (and future days like them) are well-planned and worth the loss for primary students. If we do not ask for this information now, the District will soon declare these days a great success(with no proof or accountability) and will want to extend the plan to the middle and high schools. Taxpayers do deserve to know if their tax dollars are being well spent.
    Did you all hear the comment that I heard (I believe on Channel 25) that the board wants to hire a new superintendent by the beginning of next school year to work a whole year with Hinton before taking his place in 2010? Are taxpayers going to be happy about paying two superintendents’ salaries?

  • Frustrated

    S.Crews – I concur with your thoughts. The District’s biggest challenge is its management issues, not its teachers or students. I believe the District is full of able and willing teachers just waiting for the District to pick a plan, any plan. The next year or so of transition from one Superintendent to another will be yet another excuse for not accomplishing anything.

  • Anonymous

    WEll if a new superintendant is going to “train” under Hinton hopefully the training will be an example of what NOT to do!

  • General Parker

    Sharon Crews:

    “Did you all hear the comment that I heard (I believe on Channel 25) that the board wants to hire a new superintendent by the beginning of next school year to work a whole year with Hinton before taking his place in 2010? Are taxpayers going to be happy about paying two superintendents’ salaries?”

    Why wouldn’t they be? They sat by paid for five superintendents a few years ago. Last year they were paying for four. Why wouldn’t they be happy with an additional one? (In case some of you didn’t get it, this an attempt at sarcasm)

  • General: Is there any chance your lovely wife, school board member Rachel Parker, will be trying to address this by suggesting reductions in the number of very highly paid superintendents, or by calling a halt to the practice of hiring retired administrators as consultants and contractors?

  • General Parker

    We don’t talk shop Billy. We are happily married and want to stay that way. School board is her business, community activism is mine.

  • ImaSwede

    I heard through the grapevine that Keller was doing teacher training on “smart boards.” Is that collaborative planning??? How much time does it take to learn to “touch here, touch there?”

    And God forbid, anyone would train under Hinton. How much of a “say so” is this man going to have on his replacement? I was hoping NONE!!!!

  • Sharon Crews

    General: I did catch the sarcasm–see you at the next board meeting or maybe on Sept. 30 at Woodruff (thanks to Rachael’s invitation).

  • vonster

    A community activist? Just like Jesus?

    *sknnnxxx*

  • Serenity

    Hinton is the one who needs training.

  • I actually thing training on new technology is extremely valuable and necessary. Money is spent on new technology for the classroom every year; often teachers are given the equipment but are not taught how to use it. Imagine the outcry if parents found out that the money spent on new technology was a wasted simply because a veteran teacher had never learned how to use it. There are many teachers who have yet to embrace or appreciate the value of computers in the classrooms.

    This is what I meant when I said that no matter what the inservices are/were about, folks will be unhappy.

  • Sharon Crews

    Rixblix: I was 68 when I retired and I believe I was one of the first–if not the first–and actually the only teacher for quite a while who maintained grades on the computer and passed out grade sheets to students every week. I used my own home computer for lesson plans, handouts, everything “it” was capable of doing. I can also guarantee you that “Smart Boards” aren’t in very many classrooms in 150. There was one early model at Manual–for the principal’s use only. In my own classroom, there was one computer–as was the case in all or almost all classrooms at Manual as of 2005. Exactly how would you propose sharing that one computer with 25-30 students? I’m curious as to what kind of technology you think is available to teachers. There were two computer labs available–for all classrooms to share–not too convenient. Actually, Manual may have more equipment than do the other high schools because of Title I money.

  • Sharon Crews

    Ribiflex: P.S., I just remembered–teachers at Peoria High, for one, have to pay for the ink cartidges for their classroom computers. At Manual, we did receive them–undoubtedly, from Title I money but frequently had to wait a while due to lack of supply, etc. It’s hard to use a printer without an ink cartridge.

  • Sharon, I was referring to your comment:

    “I heard through the grapevine that Keller was doing teacher training on “smart boards.” Is that collaborative planning??? How much time does it take to learn to “touch here, touch there?”

    I do not know what type of technology is available in that school. My childrens’ school have Smart Boards in their media centers/computer labs. Inservicing staff about the how to use the equipment as well as applications for the classroom is necessary. You seemed to say that such an inservice would serve no purpose. I was merely pointing out that there is a purpose. I, too, use my own laptop in my classroom. We have 2 LCD projectors for our program. I use one from time to time to supplement my lessons. There is only one other teacher in my program who uses this type of equipment because the others don’t know how and there’s no time to teach them how during the day.

  • Sharon Crews

    SOS or Save My Sanity: Mary Spangler just got wind of my comment about hiring a superintendent a year in advance–the truth of which she is contesting. I checked the story on the Channel 25 webstie and the sentence I recall hearing is not there. I “think” I remember hearing the words “smooth transition” in connection with a statement about Hinton and the new superintendent to work together for a year. I hope someone in cyberspace heard the news report that I think I heard on Channel 25–if not, I will forever wonder if I’m losing my mind–some might contend that I may have already done so.
    Rixblix: I can’t resist one more comment about 150 and technology. I gave at least two of my old printers (when I upgraded) to teachers at Manual who had computers with no printers in their classrooms–the technology isn’t as available as you might think. Also, all the grade sheets that I printed (one for each of over 100 students every week for probably 10 years or more) were all at my own expense on my own home computer, my own ink, etc.

  • Sharon Crews

    Rixblix: I think Imaswede wrote the comment about Kellar and the Smart Boards–I, also, believe that training in that technology is important, especially if a teacher has a smart board–worthless without one. And, I also knew teachers who were resistant to new technology, etc. However, introducing technology is not the purpose of Wacky Wednesdays–the sole purpose is “common planning.” Originally, the District thought that 45 minutes per day should be spent on common planning and Hinton was going to hire a specialist to train teachers how to work together, etc. Therefore, my original comment about FOIA data was to learn just what kind of training (and from whom) was being offered. Many promises were made–I just wanted to know if the promises became reality. Having been a teacher for 43 years, I know that many institute days were wasted because of poor planning (or no planning) by the administrators.

  • septboy

    Sharon,
    you aren’t losing your mind. I also heard that they plan on having the new SI in place prior to Hintons actual retirement. And my first thought was- great another SI salary to go along with Hinton & the 2 deputy SIs

  • ImaSwede

    I confess, yes, it was me who made the comment about the smart board. Yes, I believe teachers who have them should know how to use them, do I believe they pertain to common planning? NO! Common planning is one thing, teacher training is another. And I agree with Sharon, we were lead to believe that Wacky Wednesdays were for the sole purpose of common planning, for teachers to collaborate their efforts in the classroom and work together to get the most out of the curriculum so that children are being taught at the highest level. My guess is there isn’t a child that can’t figure out a Touch Phone or Touch iPod, so I just don’t see where “smart board” training for teachers should be considered common planning.

  • Sharon Crews

    Septboy: Do you remember where you heard about 2 SI salaries, etc. I’m sure all board members will soon be contacting me. Jim Stowell e-mailed me–I just left a message on his answering machine repeating what you said.

  • Feh. ImaSwede/Ms. Crews…doesn’t matter whose comment it was. It won’t matter WHAT the agenda is.

  • kcdad

    rixblix: The Wednesday hoopla was not for in service, it was for teachers to cooperatively plan their lessons. In services to train on new equipment should be done BEFORE school starts in August. (or weekends)

  • Serenity

    This common planning time should be used for data analysis, promlem solving, and planning for the proper interventions for student achievement. Not for learning about Smart Boards. This just proves Hinton had no plan and he does not know what he is doing. He needs training on what is really going on in education.

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