Denver Schools recognized for professional learning communities - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Denver Schools recognized for professional learning communities

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DENVER (KWWL) -

A big honor for an area school district:  being recognized nationally by an educational training institute & publishing company.  Denver is being called a "National Model of a Professional Learning Community at Work," by "Solution Tree."

We checked into what this award means, and what Denver is doing differently to create both better teachers and students.

A group of  four Denver teachers, meeting in a first grade room on Wednesday morning, are part of a "professional learning community" or PLC.  It's a new direction in teacher training and development the district's undertaken over the past five years.

"What we've done is made sure our teachers have collaborative time to be able to work together.  No longer is it a culture of isolation.  It's definitely a culture where our teachers know they're responsible for working together for the best interest of kids," said Kim Tierney, Denver Elementary principal.

Each day, teachers get time to work together, to talk about how students are doing, and find ways to tailor teaching to their needs.  Students are involved too.  The goal is to identify areas where kids excel and push them harder.  For students falling behind -- target areas where they're struggling.

"It has the opportunity to have one-on-one with the students to get to know what their interests and abilities are and then to push them a little bit further in terms of their academics, and we've seen continued success with that," said Jodie Victoria, Denver teacher.

Better test results offer proof. 

"For results, we've seen continuous improvement and some quality results over the last few years," said Paul Gebel, Denver 6-12 principal.

But educators say it's not all about test scores.

"In the past, it was always about doing the lesson, doing the test, seeing what the grade is and moving on.  We don't do that anymore.  We focus on the learning, and making sure kids understand.  And if they don't, there's remediation or intervention in place to help those kids," said Kathy Enslin, Denver superintendent.

Denver knows many other districts are taking similar steps to improve education.  In fact, its PLC model has incorporated elements from those programs.  But now that Denver's being recognized for setting the standard in professional learning, the district hopes other schools will want to jump on board with the initiative, thereby improving the classroom experience for even more students. 

The Denver school district is one of about 200 schools in North America, and only the second ever in Iowa to receive this designation, based on teacher training programs.

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