A day after the State of the Schools, Superintendent Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. clarified and expanded upon a few points in an interview:
Considering both lengthening pre-kindergarten classes at Onaway (currently two hours and 15 minutes) and adding more classes. Currently there’s no wait list, but would like more parents sign their kids up.
Teachers will learn to be “culturally competent” with “diversity training.” “Sometimes you see the world through just your own eyes and your own experiences. We need to create an environment where our teachers, as well as our staff members, and also our students are able to look through the lenses o the world and different people and cultures.”
Working on expanding online professional development courses that teachers can take at home. This will be part of the online catalog he referenced during the speech; the catalog will also compile in-person courses.
Would like instructional coaches to “model some of the best practices for teachers.” Teachers would watch as coaches model practices with their classes. Then, teachers would try practices, and with coaches giving feedback. Instructors could be current teachers, but district might hire consultant.
To replace the large number of teachers likely to retire in the next few years with top talent, “We just need to be more proactive. Instead of waiting for people to find us we need to go find them.” Wants to send personnel staff and/or principals to recruitment fairs across the country, not just to Ohio fairs.
District will re-apply for Ohio’s Straight A Fund grant in order to build online learning center at Shaker Main Library. Shaker was rejected in the first review of applications in November because state felt plan wasn’t financially sustainable in the long run.
In terms of technology, “We’re not exactly where we would like to be, but we’re well ahead of other districts in terms of having Smart Boards in our classrooms, students having access to laptops and computers, computer labs . . . So we have it, but teachers aren’t really using it.” Some teachers don’t know how to use equipment. “We have to find ways to teach our teachers how to use technology in the classroom.” Every building has class sets of iPads that teachers can check out.
On flipped classrooms, “If I had my way, I would love to see them used in all of our classes at some point.” Method is “really good in regards to student engagement and allowing students to have access to the information of whatever content they’re covering before they enter the classroom.” Websites already have free lectures available that teachers could assign to students.
Stressed importance of patience. “If I was to come to our community last night with all the solutions in six months, that wouldn’t be a good, effective leader to do that . . . You have to have input.” Strategic Planning Committee will develop five year strategic plan by June (started in February).
Read about Hutchings’ speech here.
A version of this story appeared in The Shakerite Volume 84 Issue 3.