District starts work on 'road map' for teachers

Posted: Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Juneau School District is beginning to make changes intended to align and raise instruction standards in schools.

The district will be hiring a director of curriculum and instruction, who will help get professional development in place for teachers, and help them with a curriculum that is to be "district-wide aligned to a high set of standards," said Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich.

"We don't have that right now, as odd as that may seem," he said. "It's to help them (teachers) have a coherent road map."

He also said the changes will help give them the opportunity to learn and undergo professional development together.

"Right now we have professional development available, but it's kind of hit and miss," he said. "We tend to do what we're doing based on a money source. Instead we need to have the thing that drives professional development be, 'What do we want kids to know?' and how to support teachers, then go find the money, as opposed to 'We found the money; what can we do?'"

The district is also taking resources planned for a director of technology and, instead, creating a coordinator for information technology and a coordinator for instruction technology, who will help with the integration of technology in the classroom.

Gelbrich said the change turns the district's technology instruction from a small project into a system-wide project.

Gelbrich said while the district wants a systemic curriculum, it is not looking for a single way of teaching.

"We're not going to ask every teacher to teach the same way," he said. "But we will explore common strategies that can be used, depending on the circumstances, in their classroom."

He also said teachers that are, for example, using technology effectively, will help bring others "to the next level."

Gelbrich expects the new position will be filled by early July.

All changes are budget neutral, he said.

The district outlined its nine-initiative plan, inspired in part by feedback Gelbrich received on his first 100 days working in the district, in December. All those initiatives now have action plans posted on the district's website. The website is to be updated monthly with progress on each initiative.

The plan can be found at www.juneauschools.org.

• Contact reporter Mary Catharine Martin at 523-2276 or maryc.martin@juneauempire.com.

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