New calendar to be proposed in April
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Revisions to the previously approved Bellevue Public School calendar for the 2017-18 school year will be presented to the school board in April. The revisions include more professional learning and work time for teachers and fewer hours of students being in school.
“What they are talking about with this calendar is giving us half the day for professional development and the other half would be actual work time, where teachers could actually work in their room, grading papers, doing the things that they really need the time to do sometimes,” Bellevue Education Association Vice President Lynne Henkel said.
Most of these days would take the place of early dismissal days.
The calendar for the 2018-19 school year has been created and this same idea is being carried over to that calendar.
This year is Assistant Superintendent Robert Moore’s first year in the Bellevue school district and he said he felt like teachers need more collaboration and plan time within the school year. He then revised the calendar for next year to try to solve some of the problems teachers have faced.
“I didn’t feel like the three days was enough time to really make an impact in order for us to improve teacher and learning and therefore [students] have a better experience in the class,” Moore said.
In the current calendar, the professional learning time falls at the beginning of the semesters and drops off as time goes on. Moore said it is important for teachers to work on their skills and have work time sprinkled across the school year.
Moore said that currently, professional learning work time and collaboration are mushed and their isn’t a clear definition to what any of this time is set aside for. Moore said he wanted to draw a clearer picture as to what professional learning and work time is and meet the needs from teacher feedback.
Spanish teacher Machaella Fogarty said the plan period embedded in teachers schedules is not enough time because she uses that period to help her students. She puts her work aside and saves it for other times during the week.
“My time is before school, after school, at nights or on weekends,” Fogarty said. “I have a plan a day so that’s sufficient because that’s what we do. A plan a day for anyone, as a teacher, there is never enough time.”
As far as GPS next year, Principal Kevin Rohlfs said collaboration would be a part of the professional development mornings so every teacher will have their own GPS instead of some teachers floating to cover for teachers who might be in meetings. In return, GPS class sizes will be smaller.
Fogarty said she shares a GPS with another teacher so she doesn’t teach some of the students in the class during the day. Sometimes she covers other teacher’s GPS classes, sometimes she is in her room and sometimes she is in collaboration. She said it can be hard for her to keep track of what students she needs to help when she’s always moving around.
“It’s a waste of time because I can’t even help my students with Spanish,” Fogarty said.
Moore said the quality of time for the professional teacher time is something to watch out for. He said he wants to make sure all the principals have the tools they need that will benefit their school making this time “meaningful.”
Henkel said adding hours that are dedicated for teachers is a “win-win” situation. Teachers earn valuable development and work time and students receive a couple full days off instead early dismissals.
“Students, I don’t think, will notice too much of a difference,” Henkel said. “Instead of having an early out they will have a whole day off so they will probably actually like it.”
It might seem as if students are losing contact time with teachers but only a total of two and a half school days that would be removed from the calendar and used for teachers. Moore said he would rather have a couple less days in the school year but have better prepared and skilled teachers.
“I have great confidence that the building administrators and teachers will do exceptional things with the professional learning time and also the professional work time,” Moore said. “I think we are going to be a better school district and I think we are going to increase students’ learning.”
The calendar will be proposed on April 3 during the school board meeting at the Welcome Center.