Why do we start school late on Wednesdays?

What do we do on Wednesday mornings?

Teachers collaborate from 7:30-8:30 a.m. each Wednesday.  That means they work with other teachers to share strategies to improve student learning.  The picture above is from Metric Olympics.  The Metric Olympics were an idea that came out in collaboration when 4th, 5th, and middle school math teachers were working on strategies to improve students’ understanding of the metric system.  The Metric Olympics were born, and this year was the second evolution of that project.

Last week, teachers met with common grade level teachers and reviewed the data from our fall MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) assessment.  They identified students who needed more help and/or more challenge, and they discussed ways to achieve this in the classroom.  The teachers also looked for strengths and areas of need within their curriculum, based on this assessment.

This week, we met as a whole faculty and we discussed specific learning needs and how we can best meet those needs within the classroom.

Why are we taking this time?

During a typical school day, there is not a common prep time for every teacher.  Each teacher has time set aside in the day to prepare, grade, respond to email, but not all teachers are available at the same time.  All teachers in our building have expertise and strengths that they can share with other teachers in the building.  Collaboration time gives them a focused, uninterrupted time to work with other teachers to share strategies to improve student learning.

Why Wednesday?

In 2015, we put out a survey to determine the best day to have a late start for dedicated collaboration time.  Wednesday rose to the surface.  I have had several parents comment that they like the mid-week break for their students, who are often involved in evening activities.  As a school, we committed to providing free supervised care at 7:30 a.m. (just like every day), so our Wednesday late start would not be a burden to families who cannot arrive at the later time.

How do we know collaboration time is effective?

There has been lots of research regarding the effectiveness of strong teacher collaboration (DuFour).  At St. Joe’s, we know this time is effective when teachers are using this time to develop new ideas, test the ideas, and discuss the effectiveness of these ideas (i.e. Metric Olympics, more writing in the classroom, new ways to teach grammar).  Over time, we will see the effects of this collaboration on our student test scores.