D-49 seeks ideas for teacher development program

KRISTINA IODICE Updated: November 9, 2012 at 12:00 am • Published: November 9, 2012

The Falcon School District 49 board wants to find ways to help teachers succeed before and after they start working in classrooms

The idea is to create a professional track with options.

“If you’re a great teacher, in order to progress you have to go outside that environment and become an administrator,” said board Vice President Christopher Wright.

Wright said he wants the district to create a professional development program where teachers are responsive to classroom needs, and where teacher training programs work consistently with schools to make ongoing improvements.

“We want you to help us design this,” he told representatives from University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Colorado Christian University, University of Phoenix and the community at a work session last week.

Wright’s idea places more focus on the induction portion of a teacher’s career — those first few years on the job. However, collaboration between schools and training programs would continue. The principal would remain the top school administrator, and master and mento teachers would still be in classrooms while sharing skills with less experienced colleagues.

The idea of ongoing collaboration was met with enthusiasm.

“We’ve been interested for years in following our students,” Barbara Frye, UCCS director of teacher education, said at the work session. “We’d love to work together with professional development.”

D-49 has been recognized by the state for its strong teacher induction program, said Amber Whetstine, D-49 school improvement coordinator.

Despite that honor, “it’s nowhere near where it could be to help teachers, she said.

Mary Snyder, UCCS College of Education dean, said after the meeting that more collaboration is needed between teacher education programs and schools during early years of a teacher’s career.

“It’s hard to prepare a teacher for everything,” she said. “There are a lot of differences district to district.”

Teachers should have options to remain in the classroom and advance, she said.

As for a D-49 idea to make teachers “mini-innovators,” it is intriguing, Snyder said.

“It’s the right way to empower teachers to make their own decisions,” she said.

Efforts to support and aid teachers could improve student achievement, said Kelly Gaskill, University of Phoenix area chair lead faculty.

“It’s a good conversation to have,” Wendy Wendover, CCU dean of curriculum and instruction education, College of Adult and Graduate Studies.

Those studying to become teachers can do research that benefits themselves, and potential employers, she said after the meeting.

Wright is pushing to implement some changes before next year’s board elections.

Other board members said making changes will take time, and it needs a lot of effort from volunteers to outline needs and come up with ideas.

Interim Chief Education Officer Don Begier is seeking members for exploratory teams, and wants to ensure that teachers have a voice in the process. Educators, community members and others who are interested may call 495-1119.

Contact Kristina Iodice: 636-0162 Twitter @GazetteKristina Facebook Kristina Iodice

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