Sherwood Heights Elementary Principal Ronda Smith is thankful for several things this November, but one of the biggest is late-start Mondays in the district. With that time on Monday mornings, Sherwood teachers and paraprofessionals are participating in robust Professional Development that is supporting strong teaching and learning.
“I really want to share with the public how powerful our PLCs on Monday mornings are and how grateful we are for this dedicated time to work on important instructional strategies,” Smith said.
PLC stands for Professional Learning Community, which is a grade-level team that works collaboratively to achieve better results for the students they teach. PLCs operate on the premise that the key to improved learning for students is continuous job-embedded learning for educators.
On some Monday mornings, Sherwood has all-staff meetings, which include 10 minutes of instructional strategies that can be used by all staff in the building. These focus on topics like learning targets or guiding student discussion in the classroom. On other Mondays, PLCs meet to discuss curriculum, and sometimes all grade-level teachers from different schools gather to collaborate.
In addition to Monday mornings, on Tuesday through Friday, all of Sherwood’s paraprofessionals engage in 15 minutes of Brain Smart Start activities led by Jolene Hudson, Intervention Specialist. These activities use current brain research methods and strategies to support students who are struggling with behavior that may impede learning. “The learning that happens in these morning sessions is so targeted and specific that our paraprofessionals walk out of the room and use it,” Principal Smith said.
Cami Carlisle, Paraprofessional at Sherwood, said the Brain Smart Starts have helped her this year. She has been using the Q-TIP motto, “quit taking it personally,” which has helped her manage difficult interactions with students. “I have learned to take a breath, step back, and get back to the executive brain function in myself to help the student who is in survival brain mode,” Carlisle said.
Reminders about the strategies they are using are posted in the Staff Room. The entire staff also works on being connected as a team, like sharing wishes and shout outs on bulletin boards.