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New schedule gives Wake teachers more team planning time

Posted April 30, 2009

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— Beginning next school year, Wake County Public School System students will leave one hour early every Wednesday and stay 10 minutes later on the other days. Schools will release students 2 ½ hours early on six of those Wednesdays.

The goal is to give teachers time to meet together in professional learning communities, or PLCs.

Carolyn Southard, sixth grade math teacher Wake teachers get more team planning time

"In these teams, teachers meet across grade level or subject area to review instruction and look at ways to better meet the needs of individual students," according to the school system's Web site.

The schools with the earliest start times will add the additional 10 minutes at the end of the school day. The schools with the latest start times will add the additional 10 minutes at the start of the school day.

Some parents say the early dismissal will put them in a bind, especially when it comes to arranging child care.

While the new schedule won’t start until July, the sixth-grade math team at Durant Road Elementary School already meets twice a week during a planning period in what they call a Professional Learning Community, or PLC for short.

“Working together in a PLC is just a great opportunity to ensure that all the teachers are doing the best thing they can possibly do with their students,” said teacher Carolyn Southard.

The math teachers said they share ideas and strategies.

“We have an opportunity now to share our expertise with each other, new ways of thinking about instruction (and) new ways of assessing students,” said teacher Sue Parks.

Previously, teachers were given a planning period to spend in their own classroom, but many teachers said they felt alone during that time. Professional Learning Communities have changed that, according to the Durant Road Middle School sixth grade math team.

“It’s invaluable, especially for new teachers coming in or somebody who switches schools or switched grades,” Southard said.

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