Teachers attend professional development day to prepare for new school year

By Melissa Rollins, Editor, editor@newsandpress.net

Gone are the days when a teacher prepared for class by simply cleaning and decorating their classrooms with encouraging and engaging posters and making lesson plans. Today’s teachers are preparing by catching up with the latest technology, bridging the gap between the classrooms they learned in and the ones their students are entering. Last week, teachers from all across Darlington County converged on Darlington Middle School for a day of professional development sessions.

Included in those sessions were topics like state standards, instructional updates, professional expectations and Google Mail and Calendar.

During the Google sessions, teachers got a reminder on how to use their school district email accounts but also learned valuable information on how to use Google calendars to connect with other teachers, as well as parents.

In years past, parent-teacher conferences had to be signed up for in person. DCSD teachers learned how to block off a period of time on their calendar and send a link for parents to reserve a slot that is convenient for them. This eliminates the need for back and forth communication over which spots have and have not been filled, saving time for parents and teachers.

In a session on SAFE-T teacher evaluations with Meredith Taylor, Director of Teacher Quality for DCSD, teachers about formal evaluations and how they will be changing in the coming years.

“This is our formal evaluation process, however, this is the last year that SAFE-T is implemented the way that you all are going through it,” Taylor said. “You may have heard people talk about the 4.0 rubric and the changes that are being made. That will apply to teachers who are being formally evaluated next year. In other words, the year that your certificate is up for renewal, that’s the year that you will be formally evaluated with the rubric.”

Taylor said that principals may also use new standards for informal evaluations in the meantime.

“You may be informally evaluated with the rubric, because principals are going through, walking through, and giving you feedback,” Taylor said. “That is not anything you have to worry about as far as formal evaluation.”

One area that will see new standards for the 2017-2018 school year is the arts. For example, in music the new standards address four artistic processes: connecting, performing, creating and responding. Goals for students are outlined in “I can” statements for each student. At a Novice Low level in instrumental music, the statement is ‘I can notate rhythm patterns using a defined selection of note values’ while an Advanced High level student is aiming toward the more difficult, ‘I can compose and arrange short musical works for a large ensemble.’

All standards that have been updated in recent years have been done to ensure that they align with the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate, an overall standard for what knowledge students should have gained throughout their elementary and secondary education years. That profile includes students having world-class knowledge, world-class skills and life and career characteristics. Find out more about the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate by visiting the South Carolina Department of Education website, ed.sc.gov.

Author: mrollins

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