By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Tupelo’s teachers will receive extensive training in interpreting data, using new programs and incorporating the principles of great teaching.
Sessions will begin after the district’s teachers report next week and will continue on Wednesday afternoons throughout the school year, the district’s new curriculum director said. They also will include regular collaborative meetings of teachers from the same grade levels.
“I’m hoping for consistency so all teachers in one grade level across the district will have the same tools,” said Leigh Mobley, whose official title is executive director of school improvement.
The district has even begun offering some training this week for teachers to learn how to use Reading Street, a new kindergarten to sixth-grade reading program.
The bulk of the professional development kicks off after the district’s convocation welcomes teachers back to work on Aug. 1. Throughout next week, educators will attend meetings about the curriculum guides developed over the summer, analyzing state test data and using a new Classworks computer program.
High school teachers will learn strategies for the new block schedule and others will hear about the district’s new dyslexia program.
“We want to start the year off with every teacher having the right tools,” Mobley said. “We want to get them excited about the new programs and immediately turn around and say put it to work.”
However, Mobley said, new Superintendent Gearl Loden has been deliberate about not scheduling any mandatory training on Aug. 6 so teachers can prepare their classrooms for the start of the new year. Students start on Aug. 7.
One ongoing training will look at the principles of effective teaching – specific strategies like teaching “bell to bell” and using exercises to open and close a lesson.
“Good teaching is good teaching,” Mobley said. “This year, we want to make sure we remind all teachers what good teaching looks like and make sure principals know what to look for when they enter the classroom.”
Much of the training during the year will be offered by members of the school improvement department, Mobley said, noting those individuals are working hard to become experts on the various subjects so they can quickly provide support when needed.
“I really want teachers to feel that this department is here to support them and give them everything we can to help them do their job,” Mobley said. “The teachers have the hardest and most important job.”