By Shawn Chitnis
BRIGHTON, Colo. (CBS4) – Teachers from the 27J School District used the Veterans Day holiday for professional development and classroom planning. Many spent Monday learning about new software and education tools now that they are operating on a four-day school week.
“It’s just nice to have an entire day so you can meet with teachers and partners we collaborate with,” said Laura Roberts, an eighth grade science teacher at Vikan Middle School. “It really gives us that freedom to think ahead and plan intentionally.”
She and other science students got to spend part of their day learning about a new online textbook with the software company that designed the program. Classrooms normally filled with students had teachers around tables inside Brighton High School.
Roberts says Monday is now a chance for the entire district to meet and they are not rushed to get back to class or students waiting on them during the school day.
“Once you go to a four-day week, a lot of times the thought is you’re only working four days a week now,” said Robert Walters, a science teacher at Brighton High School. “When in reality you’re working way more than that.”
Teachers say there is a misconception about their workload, it has not gone down since the schedule change but it has been distributed differently to accommodate the new workweek. Walters says it helps teachers to maximize their time with students and use the additional day to better prepare for when they see their class again.
Roberts also says that when classes go on field trips, they benefit from that longer day to spend more time at a particular site after budgeting for travel. She also says they use that extra time on the remaining four days to review material or help students catch up, instead of asking them to stay after the school day is over.
“We have to get better as adults in order to better serve our kids,” said Richard Patterson, the director of student achievement for the district. “It’s about time to get together to collaborate to be better.”
Teachers have met like this twice during the semester. Administrators say they worked with staff to make sure they got the time they needed to get the professional development desired. Patterson helped to organize the day at Brighton High School and says they enjoy creating more opportunities for everyone to meet at the district level.
“Finding a way to help students and teachers to find the stamina to make it through nine hours,” said Roberts.
The challenge remains to help everyone get through a longer day at school. Teachers say they have to make adjustments to cover material that they usually could spread out over five days but now need to squeeze into four days.
Walters says he notices the difference from that extra seven minutes in each period of the day. He does not necessarily try to get more information in front of the students but instead takes that time to help the class absorb the most important material.
“It’s not how much we can teach them but how well we can teach them what we know,” said Walters. “It helps the kids to be able to go over concepts multiple times in a singular class period.”