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Monday, July 27, 2015

Jacksonville Group Connecting Teachers To Improve Training

John O'Connor, the Miami-based education reporter for StateImpact Florida summarizes, "At one point, the Schultz Center had state funding and a big, multi-million dollar contract with Duval County schools to help teachers improve their craft."

The Schultz Center has trained thousands of teachers since it was founded in Jacksonville in 1997. But when state revenues declined, the Schultz Center funding was cut.

Photo: Schultz Center president Deborah Gianoulis.

“The recession happened,” said Deborah Gianoulis, president of the Schultz Center. “That [state budget] line-item was never restored.”

And  Duval schools decided to provide their own staff development.

So the Schultz Center had to change. The non-profit is expanding beyond Northeast Florida to offer training to teachers statewide, both in person and online. And they’re building an incubator for education entrepreneurs.

They’re also helping teachers adjust to big changes in the classroom.

Common Core, or — a variation of it like Florida is using — is a roadmap of what students should know at the end each grade. But the standards have also changed the way teachers plan and present their lessons.

Common Core asks students to collaborate — to figure out the lesson’s goal on their own. Gianoulis said teachers also need to work together to understand what the standards mean and what’s expected – but that can be hard.

“Teachers are natural collaborators,” she said. “And I, as a former journalist, years ago did documentaries in schools. And I was told once by a principal something that really stuck out in my mind. She said ‘You know, teachers are islands. They’re alone in their classrooms.’

“And yet if we look at what’s happening in the countries in the world that are surpassing us in student achievement, in many case their students spend less time in student instruction than ours do. But their teachers spend so much more time working collaboratively together.”

One way to do that is getting rid of the traditional model of professional development.
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Source: StateImpact Florida

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