Stillwater News Press

January 3, 2013

Stillwater teachers learn some new lessons

By Mark Rountree
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — Students have four days of holiday break remaining, but for teachers, it’s back to work on Thursday.

Approximately 400 teachers in the Stillwater district will report for two days of professional development at each of the district’s 10 schools.

On Thursday, teachers at the middle school, junior high and high school will convene at Stillwater Junior High School to hear a presentation on the Marzano teacher evaluation model. Elementary school teachers will hear about the evaluation model on Friday at the junior high.

“The Marzano model is a very complex, multi-level system,” Highland Park Elementary School Principal Kurt Baze said of the program, which is being implemented in Stillwater Public Schools for the first time.

“Marzano is all about moving away from the check-list approach (of evaluation),” said Gay Washington, assistant superintendent of educational services for the district. “It’s about developing the best teaching practices. It’s not a ‘got-ya’ model. It’s about administrators working side by side with teachers.”

Each school will have site-specific professional development workshops. For example, at Skyline Elementary School, teachers will hear presentations on how the brain works and how to apply that to teaching and math strategies to help students with the transition to the Common Core Student Standards in 2014. At Highland Park, teachers will work with the school psychologist and occupational therapist on strategies of dealing with students with behavioral issues.

Baze said professional development days assist teachers to become more effective educators in the classroom.

“We don’t like to look at (professional development) as one isolated day,” Baze said.

Teachers are professionals who should always aspire to a higher level, said Washington, and professional development workshops are a good way to do that.

“Our professional development is a time to stop and have professional dialogue and share strategies, resources,” she said.

Washington said the ultimate goal of the workshop is to heighten student achievement.

“Any time you are improving your instruction, you should see improvement in (student) achievement,” she said. “We hope it comes full circle.”

Students report to classes on Monday. The third quarter includes 43 days of school, while the fourth quarter has 48 days in the classroom.