By Lee Johnson
Mount Logan Middle School has already begun to see benefits from implementing a professional learning community program at the beginning of the school year.
The program, which provides opportunities for teachers to collaborate in groups and learn how to be more successful, has been emphasized across the Logan City School District since Frank Schofield became superintendent on July 1.
“It has been the most effective way to get students to accomplish great things,” said Paul Wagner, an assistant principal at Mount Logan. “We’re all blown away by how well our teachers have responded and how willing they’ve been to cooperate and to do this. We’re all excited.”
Part of being a professional learning community requires teachers to meet together to discuss what they want students to learn, how students will know when they’ve learned something, what to do if students don’t learn, and how to extend student learning past the basics.
Tests are created based on those questions to make sure teachers are teaching what is important for that class across the board. These are called common formative assessments.
“When we say ‘common’ we want not only the questions to be common, but we want to make sure the administration of the quiz is also very common,” said Shane Hutchinson, a seventh-grade science teacher at Mount Logan. “So when we get the data back we can know that it’s because of certain things students got or didn’t get, not the way we were administering the quiz.”
In addition to common formative assessments, the program encourages teachers to remember that every student can learn.
“Some people think that there are some students who just can’t learn,” Wagner said. “The magic of this PLC approach is that you just don’t believe it. You don’t believe that a student can’t learn.”
Wagner said teachers will use other teachers, as well as the resources the school provides, to keep finding ways to help a student in need.
“I’m pretty passionate about this stuff,” Wagner said. “What I got involved in administration for is to kind of deliver this educational vision that every kid can get.”
Hutchinson said he has noticed the influence of the new district emphasis.
“It’s not just that this department’s doing it because they think it’s the right thing to do,” Hutchinson said. “We’re all united in the whole school in doing the same things.”
Schofield said he feels the value of this emphasis is felt across the district.
“Effective teams have always done these things,” Schofield said. “Effective teams in any industry have clear goals for performance. They work collaboratively.”
Schofield said while some may be getting up to speed on the emphasis, it still has been received well.
“If we come together as a team, we can accomplish more and we can reach more students than if we all just try to do this individually,” Schofield said.