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Windsor Locks Public Schools Faculty Enthusiastic About New Professional Training Sessions

Administrators say the Professional Learning Communities sessions will allow teachers to use student data to create better plans to instruct.

Windsor Locks school administrators say the beginning stages of the new district-wide Professional Learning Communities are going well.

The PLCs have been established to provide teachers with dedicated time to review individual student data and develop specific instructional plans to meet the needs of each child, officials said.

Teachers and administrators had their first sessions this week and have started using student data in a team concept, officials said.

Susan Bell, assistant principal, said, during a presentation to the board of education Thursday, the PLC concept was first established in the high school.

“It really is professionals having that common time to talk about their craft,” Bell said.

Principal Sharon Cournoyer said some of the essential questions asked of teachers are: what do you want students to know? How do you know they know it? How do you respond when they haven’t learned?

The teachers are taking the data and using it to come up with an action plan for best instructing the students, Cournoyer said.

Superintendent of Schools Wayne Sweeney said by being able to interact with each other about student data before classes started, the staff was prepared for the students on the first day rather than just getting to know the kids.

“Our teachers are beginning to believe they will make a difference in their students’ lives,” Sweeney said.

The PLCs will be held on Monday afternoons, causing one hour early dismissals for students. Some  parents this summer raised concerns about having the early dismissals. The PLCs afternoon sessions start on Monday, Sweeney said.

Administrators made some accommodations to the concerns, including having fewer than originally planned and providing a place for students to go after the early dismissal.

Sweeney said about 45 students at , and 50 students at will take part in the after school program.

Board Member Michael Royston said he was confused by what the program was supposed to do. Royston said the school system has provided student data to teachers in the past and the board was told the information would be used to make improvements.

“What is it that’s different,” Royston said. “What’s going to happen now that hasn’t happened in the past three years?”

Cournoyer said what’s different is the information about the students is shared between the schools and there will be a continuity of services for them from pre-kindergarten through high school. The faculty will be looking at the same data, she said.

The PLCs will be working within a district-wide action plan and have a unified approach, Cournoyer said.

Sweeney said one of the goals of the program is to use the data about students to change adult behaviors in how they teach. If the students aren’t learning that’s an adult problem, he said.

“Adult behaviors have to change not the children,” Sweeney said.

Teachers will be accountable to each other and the building administrators. Those administrators are accountable to Sweeney, who is accountable to the board, he said. There will also be parent councils at each school who will also contribute to school improvements, he added.

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