Wednesday morning saw over 250 educators gather at the Carbon School District office for their annual opening institute meeting. With school starting soon, those who attended heard from Superintendent Lance Hatch about the districts plans for the year, the educational direction the administration wants to go and about technology that is now available to help schools communicate better with the people they serve. He also reminded teachers that they are in a unique position, a unique profession in which each year allows them to start with a clean slate.
"We have a brand new school year and not every profession each August gets a chance to press the do over button," he remarked. "It is a huge advantage in our profession to be able to start fresh with a new group of kids each year." The main point of the meeting was what Hatch called the "prime factor" of education. He asked those in the audience to name the things that affects student learning. Teachers mentioned parents/home environment, a teacher's attitude in the classroom, learning disabilities, language barriers, poverty and some other things.
"There are so many factors, and many of them are not within our control," he stated. "But the research and the data shows that nothing affects that learning as much as what you do as teachers between the bells."
He said that work, that time spent, is the prime factor in educating kids.
Hatch then went on to show how all the things the district has developed from Professional Learning Communities to the Carbon Growth Cycle is used to support instruction.
"You have collaboration, learning by doing, school improvement plans, research, the use of data, leadership and the list goes on and on," he stated. "There are best practices and it is well established what needs to happen to improve, and those are all included in the Carbon Growth Cycle." He then pointed out that all of that is what the educational process in Carbon School District is based on. Simply put, the data is studied, then a plan is devised for a focus to improve performance, then the plan is implemented. After 60 days the results are studied and adjustments are made to make it even better. This is done throughout the school year. He then said, "we celebrate the successes we have had."
That plan is not only followed for students growth, but also by principals for teacher growth and by the district for overall school growth.
"Everything we expect you to do with your students, and we expect the principals to do with you, we do with your schools and all of you," explained Hatch. "And this is how the Carbon Growth Cycle applies to all employees in the district."
He also set out the district administrations "smart goals" for the year. While schools have their individual goals, the district also has them.
First, data collection will be done on the effectiveness of the principals in the schools. By May of 2020 there will standards set for that.
"By then all our principals will be evaluated based on that data," said Hatch.
Second, there will be a real concentration on raising reading levels among all elementary students, as there was this past year, particularly in the second and third grades.
"At those grades we have a lower percentage of adequate reading levels than in other grades so we need to work on that," he said. "On the other hand the levels of students coming out of the first grade across the district is almost unheard of."
Third, to develop student behavior goals across the district that are the same. Hatch said that currently the district doesn't have very good data on behavior, good or bad, and they want to develop that.
"It is really hard to develop standards right now because we do not have very good or consistent information to do so. That is what we need to do," he said.
He pointed out that by achieving these goals the results will affect that "prime factor" in classrooms across the district. During the meeting the district also honored teachers who had been with the district and beginning their 11th of employment and those beginning their 16th year as well.
"At the retirement banquet each year we honor those with many, many years in the district, but those that have hung on and are in the middle of their teaching careers also should be honored," stated Hatch.
With that teachers were released to go to their buildings for meetings and to prepare for the start of school on August 19.