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Newspaper Archive of
N. Warren Town and County News
Norwalk, Iowa
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April 21, 2016     N. Warren Town and County News
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April 21, 2016
 

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Thursday, April 21, 2016 N/Warren Town and County News Page Eleven DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION Concluded from p. 1 have been a great support, "Principals have a hard job and are concerned about outcomes," she said. "They will come to you and tell you what they want you to achieve in the dassroom. That can be intimidating. It is nice having people understanding both sides. Teacher lead- ers understand that our classes are different every day." Wulf said a study among principals underscored that disconnect. "They thought they were getting in there to lead, but found out they were mostly managing," he said. "Of course, those things need to be done because if you don't have a well managed building, you don't have anything. That's similar to a hospital administrator. You don't want a hospital administrator making patient decisions; you want the doctor. In school, you want the teachers to make decisions for the stu- dents." Norwalk educators agree that the teacher leader structure has amped up the district's professional development (PD) significantly. "In years past, all teachers sat down and received the same PD," Mogle said. "Sometimes it appeared that some teachers were not buying in because they were not making the connections to their individual work." No more. Norwalk's professional development now is fine- ned to each teacher, each class, each subject matter. "Now teacher leaders align the PD," Mogle said. "I can focus on what we do in a small group of CTE (Career and Technical Education) teachers. It may be the same professional development as all other teachers and have the same message, but it is targeted to CTE teachers. Now that we have teacher leaders in all curriculum areas, we are able to focus on message." "The phrase that comes to mind is 'job-embedded professional development,'" Kurtt said. The teacher leaders make sure they are all in agreement with what the message is before arranging professional development. "Then we have our PDs with our small groups, but lead them through a lens that can be broken down to Content specific areas," Kurtt said. "We make sure it is implemented properly in science, for instance, because that is different than how it would be implemented in other areas like math and literature." TLC fosters a true collaboration building wide, said Amy Gage, secondary direc- tor of teaching and learning. "I think one of the things that TLC people have done for our school district is totally change the culture of collaboration," she said. "It used to be that districts didn't have staff with the time to provide that kind of level of PD. This allows us to build internal capacity for training. The level of implementation we have had is so much more. "We are doing a better job of meeting individual needs better, but we also are meeting our collective needs better." In addition to aligning professional development to the various curricula, Wulf said the small groups get a deeper understanding of how things should be taught. "The research has been clear: You need theory, demonstration, practice and feed- back," he said. "Up until TLC, there had been very little demonstration, and feedback maybe three times a year." Initially, there was a bit of distrust of the teacher leaders, something that requires attention. "As leaders, many of us have worked on building that trusting relationship," said Shelly Vroegh, who is halftime fifth grade teacher, halftime instructional coach. "I sensed that some teachers were thinking, "Oh, oh, what is she listening for?' Once you build trust, they are more willing to work with you." Finally, the selection of teachers is a rigorous process. Once potential leaders are screened by the principal, it is up to the teacher selection committee - comprised of teachers - to make the final determination who will be named as leaders. Leaders must reapply every year. "At first I thought it would be a popularity contest," Vroegh said. "But the best people really do float to the top. "The selection process is nerve-racking. You want to make sure you base deci- sions on the skill rather than the person or personality." "The very least we can do is honor teaching these kids with the very best," Kurtt said. Photos submitted. As for Mogle, he debated whether he wanted to reapply as a teacher leader this past year. "It took a lot of thought to think through whether I had the drive and desire to teach adults," he said. "When I step out of that classroom and teach adults, it is a very different kind of commitment." Wulf said that TLC has been a game changer for the district. "This is a real research-based process that we are going through now," he said. "We are putting teachers at the forefront of change. It is especially significant be- cause we have new assessments possibly coming and we are unpacking the Iowa Core. We have higher expectations. Our teachers will always pick the right people for the teacher leader positions. They know the leaders will be effective and truly help them." nic Every Thursday 6 - 8 p.m. (except holidays) Patient registration begins at 5:45 p.m. Last patient appointment will be at 7:30 p.m. Crossroads Church, 2601 Border St., Norwalk 515-287-8580 www.2thecrossroads.com Illness/Minor Injury, Well Child Exams (no vaccines), School/Sports Physicals, Employment Physicals,Lead Testing, Adult Tetanus Shots, Chiropractic, Patient Assistance Program Enrollment, Diabetes-Blood Glucose Testing, Blood Pressure Testing Rrst Come. First Served. No Appointments Necessary. No Cost. In-Kind Donations Accepted. 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