Two proposals that are designed to improve instruction and provide collaborative time for staff — one at the elementary level and the other at the high school — will move ahead another step as a result of positive reaction from the School Board.
Grades 3, 4 look into specialized team approach
District staff from elementary schools presented a concept to Hamilton School Board members at their May 4 meeting that would create two-teacher instructional teams in grades 3 and 4 beginning in the 2022-23 academic year.
Elementary principals James Edmond, Jr., Ph.D., Kristin Koeper-Hamblin, Brian Balfany and Michele Trawicki, along with teachers Jenny Berwanger, Erin Ridosko, Ann Marie Pilo and Chris Hunkins joined Instructional Services Supervisor Cathy Drago and Curriculum Specialist Whitney Roth to preview the plan.
Teachers would specialize in two subject areas – math and science or literacy and social studies. Classes would be taught in blocks, so that one teacher would teach a math-science block either in the morning or afternoon, and the other would teach literacy-social studies in the opposite block. The idea is not completely novel as third- and fourth-graders often switched teachers or classes for math, science or social studies.
In a written report, benefits to students were listed as:
- Specialization – Students receive instruction from teachers who are passionate about their specialized disciplines. By narrowing their subject coverage, teachers can deepen their expertise and collaboratively plan more in-depth lessons.
- Instructional time – More integration and meaningful learning experiences occur in longer instructional blocks. Instead of the current practice of having social studies and science on alternating days, they can be taught daily without reducing reading or math.
- Instructional teams – Students will be exposed to the instructional expertise and the teaching craft of more than one teacher.
- Minimal transition – Preserving the elementary experience is a priority. Schedules will be designed so that students move with their classmates to their second teacher once each day.
- Social-emotional – Students will develop caring relationships with two classroom teachers and remain with their same classmates throughout the entire day. Parent-teacher conferences will be held with both teachers as a team, focusing on the whole child.
- Balance of instruction – Each content area will receive equal treatment because teachers will use the same methodology to deliver instruction, focusing on achieving a guaranteed and viable curriculum in all content areas.
Elementary staff will work on developing the plan and will present it for approval to the School Board in next January for implementation in the 2022-23 school year.
Pilot has late Wednesday start for high school students
A proposal to pilot an alternate high school schedule with designated time for collaborative staff teams to work was approved. High school teachers Kayla Feudner and Kevin Kempen, along with Principal Rebecca Newcomer provided an overview of the pilot. Starting in the 2021-22 school year, teachers would meet from 7:10 – 8 a.m. on Wednesdays, and classes would begin at 8:05 a.m., instead of the normal 7:20 a.m. Exceptions for the late Wednesday start would be the first Wednesday of the year and during final exams.
Students who travel to school in cars could come later on Wednesdays and those who ride buses would have supervised quiet or group study hall. A peer student tutoring program is under consideration as well.
Advisement will not be held on the late-start Wednesdays to mitigate the impact on lost instructional time to only three minutes. To keep lunch periods and afternoon blocks intact, first block will be reduced by one minute and two minutes will be shaved off of second block.
Because the high school will only exceed state required instructional time by three hours, it would have to hold virtual classes if a snow day or other emergency closed school. HIgh school teachers would teach from remote locations. Another option would be to adjust final exam week to mandate review time for students, which is now optional. That would add another six hours of instruction and create one reserved emergency day.
Some paraprofessionals’ schedules may need to be adjusted so that there is enough supervision for students in the morning prior to the adjusted start time of 8:05 a.m.
Both Feudner and Kempen said setting aside time in the morning for staff collaboration would work better than after school when students often ask for help and teachers who are coaches are with their teams.
School Board members voted in favor of the pilot for 2021-22 except for Michael Hyland who voted no.
Otto presents four reports
In other business, the School Board approved four agenda items presented by Hamilton Associate Principal and Extended Learning Coordinator Mark Otto. The reports were the Extended Learning Opportunities Annual Report, participation in the CESA#1 Consortium for Carl Perkins Grant, Waukesha County School-to-Work Consortium and Education for Employment Plan.
In personnel business, the School Board:
- accepted the resignation of Lannon kindergarten teacher Briel Brugger, effective May 7;
- approved the retirement of Maple Avenue Grade 3 teacher Diana Ruiz, effective June 11; and
- appointed Dana Marklund as a high school communication arts teacher, Brianne Strelow as a high school art teacher, Brecken Ashenbrenner as a Maple Avenue special education teacher, Matthew Dahnke as a high school social studies teacher, Mark Baker as a high school applied engineering and technology teacher, Sarah Pichler as a Templeton special education teacher and Barbara Bourke as a Templeton associate kitchen employee. Bourke’s position is effective May 3, all others on Aug. 23.