Teachers reflect on finer points of their job in school district's first professional-development day

Carson City School District's first after-school professional development gave teachers a chance to reflect on the finer points of their craft.

"This is very useful," said first-grade teacher Amy Crittenden, who made notes throughout the 90-minute discussion. "During the normal day, you don't have time like this to get ideas from other teachers. You are always searching for new ways to teach, and to reach students you're having difficulty with."

While future professional-development days may combine teachers from different schools, Wednesday's was geared specifically at development within each site. Carson High School had a trainer from the Western Regional Professional Development Program talk about teaching on a block schedule. Carson Middle School staff discussed effective teaching strategies uncovered through an observation process called Teach 4 Success.

At Bordewich-Bray, teachers broke down into grade levels and discussed ways to help students meet state standards using a new method called the Pulliam pacing guide.

It is in use at all the elementary schools this year and sets up timelines for objectives to be met and standards to be assessed.

First-grade teachers talked about the standard of having their students recognize a triangle, circle and square. Teacher Paula Stevens said she has her students cut shapes and put them together in groups or with the spelled-out word.

"This is telling me if they know their shapes," she said.

Mike Watty, associate superintendent for education services for the Carson City School District, handed out a list of topics for each school to school district board members Tuesday night.

"All of the targeted trainings are based on the school improvement plans," he said. "All of the school improvement plan teams have or are working to specify their new goals and objectives."

Trustees voted for the plan at the end of the last school year, and Watty assured them again that the development time will be valuable.

Fourteen more districtwide sessions are scheduled throughout the rest of the year. Students are released early to accommodate the training - a system which will need some honing.

Although Principal Sue Keema sent home letters in student's folders and even mentioned the early-out at Open House this week, 10 students were left without rides as school was released.

"Next time, I'm sending the kids home with wristbands the day before," she said. "We usually do that for all big events."

The next professional-development day is scheduled for Sept. 28. Elementary school students will be released at 1:30 p.m., middle school students at 12:45 p.m. and Carson and Pioneer high school students at 12:30 p.m. The training will take place on the second and fourth Wednesdays of every month, except for weeks with holidays.

n Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at moneill@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.

Early-release days

What: Professional-development days for the Carson City School District

When: The second and fourth Wednesdays of every month, except for when holidays fall on those days

Early-release times: Elementary schools let out at 1:30 p.m., middle schools at 12:45 p.m., and high schools at 12:30 p.m.


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