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Teacher Collaboration Means Student Success
Teacher Collaboration Means Student Success
Posted on 05/12/2020
A collage showing A.C. Reynolds Middle and Clyde A. Erwin Middle eighth-grade math Professional Learning Community members.(Pictured, from top left, are A.C. Reynolds Middle eighth-grade math teacher Heather Rejzer, Clyde A. Erwin Middle eighth-grade math teacher Jennifer Corbitt, Reynolds Middle eighth-grade math teacher Samantha McIntosh, Reynolds Middle Exceptional Children’s teacher Rheta West, Erwin Middle eighth-grade math teacher Madeline Girts, and Reynolds Middle eighth-grader Jesse Padgett.)

By Tim Reaves
BCS Communications Department

Despite the necessary physical distancing, BCS teachers are working together in online spaces to ensure every student gets a great education.

Eighth-grade math teachers from A.C. Reynolds Middle School and Clyde A. Erwin Middle School have been using a powerful collaborative teaching structure called a Professional Learning Community (PLC), which helps them work smarter. In PLCs, teachers ask the questions “what do you want the students to learn, how are you going to know that they learned it, what are you going to do if they didn’t learn it, and what are you going to do if they did learn it?”

The Reynolds and Erwin teachers plan lessons together, lean on each other’s strengths, and hold a continuous conversation around best practices. BCS teachers across the district have grade-level and subject-based PLCs, with support from school-based media specialists, instructional coaches, and Digital Learning Facilitators. It’s one more way BCS teachers innovate and prepare students for their tomorrow, even during trying times.

“We sit down every week and we look at the standards that we need to teach and how we can teach all the kids,” said Reynolds Middle Exceptional Children’s teacher Rheta West. “We find the best tools for doing that, make common assessments across the two schools, and analyze any assessments we’ve given so we can adjust our instruction for student needs.”

Reynolds Middle eighth-grade math teacher Heather Rejzer helped get the PLC started between her school and Erwin Middle. During BCS Virtual Days online classes, she’s helping the group stay organized with Zoom meetings and online workflow tools. The teachers record a daily lesson, upload it, and share it with all students served by their PLC.

“This group just has a unique level of trust and support,” said Erwin Middle eighth-grade teacher Jennifer Corbitt. “We step up and teach each other’s classes when needed, and the students are the ultimate beneficiaries of this collaboration.”

“We understand that one of us could get sick or a loved one could get sick,” Ms. West added. “With this group, we can step up to help each other and fill the gaps. No matter what happens to us individually, our kids will be taken care of.”

By sharing instructional materials and giving each other access to their virtual classrooms, the PLC is better able to track student progress in real time and provide individualized help where it’s needed. The combined effort also fosters more buy-in from students, who have ample opportunities online and offline to track their own progress and ask questions.

“It really helps the kids be accountable for their own learning,” said Reynolds Middle eighth-grade math teacher Samantha McIntosh. They know what they’re mastering. It gets the kids actively working in their own education and lets them reach for the stars.”

As BCS quickly moved to Virtual Days online classes, PLC structures enabled teachers to collaborate across the district by sharing lesson ideas and best practices for their subject area, said BCS K-12 Mathematics Specialist Stefanie Buckner. Teachers from many grade levels across all subjects hop on virtual meetings – sometimes weekly – to discuss powerful teaching and learning strategies to grow their students.

"The collaboration among and across our district is truly unique and to be celebrated," she said. "BCS teachers go above and beyond to support growth for all our students."

Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin, shanon.martin@bcsemail.org, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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