Time is what teachers need to be effective educators.
That is the premise behind Interim Superintendent of Schools Robert “Bob” England’s proposal to have Wiscasset schools adopt an early release day (ERD) every week on Wednesdays “to increase the collaborative time for teachers and administrators to focus on those key fundamentals that make effective teaching, effective outcomes.”
After a lengthy discussion on the topic at the Aug. 9 school committee meeting, the committee voted 5-0 in favor of the change.
As England explained, ERD is currently once a month. “That’s 30 days between events … that will marginally effect change and if a snow day happens, it could be 60 days. ERD needs Frequency, Plan Focused Structure, Time, Goals, Reevaluation and Reporting back to constituents.”
England said he knows there will be possible issues with the plan but that the plan cannot go forward “until we know if ERD increased days will be supported by the school committee and ultimately the citizenry.”
“Young children going home early is a burden on parents – even one day a month is a headache,” said England. “Frequency/routine makes it easier to plan a family workday.”
England said he has discussed this proposal with Wiscasset Community Center’s Recreation Director Duane Goud. Goud said the WCC has programs “that will help with the social and emotional needs of kids. Kids will want to come to school on ERD because they will get to go to the WCC.”
Administrators at the meeting spoke in favor of the plan.
Wiscasset Elementary School Principal Kathleen Pastore said schools need “collective efficacy,” where teachers can collaborate and work together for greater student outcomes and higher levels of achievement. She said in a poll of the WES staff, 70% said they need more time to plan.
Wiscasset Middle High School Principal Charles Lomonte said he agrees with the plan 100%. “Our current time structure doesn’t allow for curriculum work. This needs to be done. It would be beneficial to our students and teachers.”
Kenneth Spinney, director of special education, said teachers need to be effective and giving them that ERD time will help them to be. “I hope you take this opportunity to do it.”
England said “time” is a key ingredient to schools being effective, that effective schools have “structures of systems,” including:
– Vertical curriculum alignment
– Solid safety protocols and procedures
– Collaborative teacher/administration time to work on specific building-based needs that are student-centered
– A unified staff that respect, and work to meet the needs of, students based on identified outcomes.
– Longevity of staff or a healthy distribution of experience
– Central office functions that are uniform
– Effective communication at all levels
– Respect and honor local traditions
--Sustained focus on common articulate goals. Ownership by all.
Aug. 10, England had a discussion with Wiscasset Teachers Association co-presidents.
“The co-presidents are in strong support of this change and feel this will significantly impact students in many positive ways. In addition, many items that have not been addressed, which require focused collaborative time between the educational staff can now be done. We anticipate immediate impact on a student's academic, emotional and social development,” said England via email.
The school committee will meet again on Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 4:30 p.m. for a workshop, followed by a regular meeting.