Collaborative teaching model takes center stage in Coeur d’Alene

Cheerleaders greeted participants at Coeur d’Alene’s professional learning communities training last week at Lake City High School. (photo courtesy of Coeur d’Alene public information office)

COEUR D’ALENE — The Coeur d’Alene school district hosted professional training last week for nearly 1,000 educators aimed at improving teaching skills and academic performance.

Coeur d’Alene teachers, counselors, administrators and classified staff made up the largest number of attendees — about 700 — but there were others from across Idaho, eastern Washington, Oregon and as far away as Tennessee. More than 10 scholars, authors and successful school leaders with PLC at Work Institute brought their expertise and knowledge to Lake City High School.

During the three-day event, training focused on developing an effective professional learning community (PLC), a group of educators that meets regularly, shares expertise, and works collaboratively to improve classroom skills and academic outcomes.

Coeur d’Alene Superintendent Shon Hocker said, “The time is right for us because every year matters. We don’t want to wait any longer to learn, improve and grow. We are focused on student success and achievement. We have an opportunity in front of us to go from being a good district to a great district.”

Current research shows that teaching in insolation is not as effective as collaborative teaching. 

More than 700 Coeur d’Alene educators and administrators attended the PLC at Work Institute training. (photo courtesy of Coeur d’Alene public information office)

“The old days of teaching solo are gone,” Hocker said. “Public schools must teach to all kids and help them succeed. Our job is to figure out how to teach as collaborative teams to meet kids where they are, and help ensure all our students reach their future goals.”

The PLC training program cost Coeur d’Alene about $400,000. The district used federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund money to fund the large-scale training, which helps the district maximize another $1 million in levy funds already set aside for professional development.

A PLC serves as infrastructure where teachers can engage in constructive dialogue, reflect on and improve instruction, and share ways to increase effectiveness in the classroom, Hocker said.

The implementation of common formative assessments is the next step for Coeur d’Alene. “Many grade-level teams and content teachers created those ground rules and our first assessments will be provided to students this year. Having relevant and timely data on specific measurable objectives will be an extremely important catalyst for deeper work,” he said.

Hosting the event presented plenty of logistical challenges but “it will be worth the effort and sacrifice,” Hocker said.

“Although our students are performing well compared to state averages, our community expects all students to meet targets and that we focus our resources on meeting that goal across the district.”

Darren Svan

Darren Svan

Reporter Darren Svan has a background in both journalism and education. Prior to working for military schools at overseas installations, he was news editor at several publications in Wyoming and Colorado. You can send news tips to [email protected].

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