Parents and Staff,
For the last 10 years, La Grande School District has provided structured time for our teachers to meet in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). In PLCs, teachers are able to review standards, instructional pacing, compare professional instructional practices, review assessment data, and plan interventions and extensions for learning. Our instructional focus is improved because of this time. Over this period, La Grande School District indicators for success (i.e. graduation/completer rates, achievement on state assessments , and overall coordination of services, etc.) have, generally, improved because of high-quality PLCs across our district.
Historically, PLCs have occurred on Monday mornings via a late-start schedule. During the COVID-19 pandemic La Grande SD and our families experienced a variety of schedules and found that Wednesday PLC brought some hidden benefits:
1. Teachers were able to plan for the coming week more effectively with time to adjust, discuss concerns, etc.
2. Teachers were better able to compare student data. With most assessments given on Fridays, teachers had adequate time to have data ready for the following Wednesday to compare and better identify interventions and/or extensions.
3. Intervention teams had time to prepare for the students they would see in the coming week to better meet their needs.
4. Teachers were more mentally prepared to engage in meaningful collaboration because their week was already underway.
5. Wednesdays are the best attended day by teachers and staff to facilitate PLCs
6. Wednesdays would provide more PLC days for staff collaboration over the traditional Monday late-start.
The change to a Wednesday late-start has become one of the recommended adjustments to our PLCs going into the next 10 years.
One of multiple alternative models we discussed at great length was a Wednesday early-release schedule, but found that it created significant challenges (summarized below) and, as a result, will not be moving forward in this direction.
1. Many teachers are also coaches, advisers, or provide after-school support that would compete for their attention during PLC time (i.e trips, games, etc.).
2. Administrative support of PLCs would decrease due to the day's activities and resolving a variety of issues important to families and the operation of the school.
3. Teacher energy may be low having completed a full day of learning with students.
4. Increased competition between PLCs and other school/family meetings during prime meeting time (particularly at the elementary level).
La Grande School District remains firmly committed to PLCs and the collaborative culture and the positive outcomes they create for our students and schools. We recognize that this represents a change for our stakeholders and families and want to provide opportunity for your voice in this decision-making process. However, it is important to emphasize that the data collected in this survey is one piece of the process, and does not guarantee a final outcome or result.
La Grande School District is actively working towards returning to normal full-time schedules for the 2021/22 school year, but wants to capitalize on learning that has happened during this pandemic period to make our district and students the best they can become now and in the future. Thank you!
Survey Link: https://forms.gle/potx3AJVQshspecG7