I have been fortunate to observe and work at x Middle School in Central Falls this semester. I’ve had a chance to ask questions about curriculum, common core and how x Middle School, as a charter school, faces the fear of getting shut down by RIDE every year. What I found most interesting was that, although teachers are required to pull longer school days and work a full year, without summers off, the school’s schedule has provided endless opportunities for collaboration among the middle school teachers that make up X Middle School. Because the teachers worked all summer, each team was able to sit down and align their content standards, common core and technology standards with one another to create a cohesive curriculum across content areas and standards. While the humanities teacher enters the Progressive Era, the ELA teacher is covering a narrative about immigration told from the perspective of a teenage girl.
What teachers need is time to prepare, collaborate and develop their skills with teaching techniques, technology and the standards that bombard them. When you have a school that supports this, even weaves it into the day for teachers, what you get in return is more effective teaching and learning. At X Middle School I see a school that has embedded collaboration and professional development into their every day climate. And what I see in the classroom is PBL, technology and a cross content curriculum. Every Friday the teachers gather in the gymnasium for professional development. Every Friday, there is mandatory professional development and it’s not after school hours. It is within the school day.
Some day, when I interview for a position, I’ll be interviewing the school, just as they are interviewing me. I’ll be looking for a school that believes in these very components and supports the teachers in their growth as professionals.