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Our DPS Weekly: Breaking with Tradition for Our Kids

Principal Kimberly Grayson, right, and teachers from Martin Luther King Jr., Early College presented their teacher leadership model to educators across the nation at the South by Southwest Education Expo in Austin, Texas, this week.

“This award belongs to our educators who were, and are, brave enough and dedicated enough to try something completely different.”

 

Dear DPS Community,

Supt. Tom Boasberg

I am thrilled to share the news that Denver Public Schools this week was named a Great District for Great Teachers, one of just eight school districts in the nation to earn this honor.

How did we win this award? By realizing we had to fundamentally redefine roles that had been in place in our public schools for more than 100 years if we were going to attract and retain the best teachers in our schools and give our kids a shot at the success they deserve.

We know, without a doubt, that the quality of our teachers is the single most important factor in our schools in the success of our kids. Our absolute top priority is to support and help our teachers develop the complex and sophisticated skills they need to successfully reach all students.

But we knew the century-old school model of a principal being responsible for coaching an instructional staff of 20 or 30 teachers — while also handling parent concerns, discipline, budget and building issues — wasn’t going to get us where we needed to be.

So in 2013, with the support and courage of some of our amazing teachers and school leaders, we tried something new. In 14 schools, we launched the model that is now called Teacher Leadership & Collaboration, or TLC for short.

Grayson answered questions about Teacher Leadership & Collaboration at the South by Southwest Education Expo.

No longer was a single principal charged with developing the instructional expertise of dozens of teachers. Instead, teachers began to learn from each other, specifically the best teachers in the building, the teachers who knew their kids and understood their challenges.

Teachers in our TLC schools now work in teams, with a teacher leader out front, collaborating with a small group of teachers, observing them in class and coaching them on ways to improve. That’s the job of the teacher leader every day — and our teacher leaders still spend half of their day teaching classes, meaning they can grow as leaders without having to leave the classrooms that they love.These were dramatic changes, and they weren’t easy. School leaders had to share and distribute responsibility so others can help lead. Teachers had to learn to work together in a new way.

Next fall, TLC will be in nearly all of our schools. It doesn’t look the same in every school because we learned it works best when schools get to design a TLC model that works best for them. And I’m proud to report that 89% of teachers who work in our TLC schools rate their teacher leaders as effective or very effective leaders.

DPS was named a Great District for Great Teachers, in large part, because we shook up a system that had been designed to look like factories looked a century ago. This award belongs to our educators who were, and are, brave enough and dedicated enough to try something completely different.

Schools in our district today don’t run like they did 100 years ago. And for our kids facing a future in the 21st Century, that’s good news.

Best,
Tom 


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Video Essay: Our Students Making a Change with Challenge 5280

There’s something incredible about seeing the change you wish to see come to life. Throughout the school year, hundreds of DPS high school students have engaged in implementing that change through Challenge 5280, a student leadership competition.

Students develop innovative ways to make their school communities more equitable, and, in turn, to advocate for social justice. Learn more about the challenge and see how some of our schools participated in these quick DPS Features videos:

Challenge 5280: Watch this video summary of the competition.

 

DSST Cole: Making their school a healthier (and better hydrated) place. Watch now.

 

Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy: Connecting cultures within the school community. Watch now.

 

Abraham Lincoln: Streamlining how students share ideas with educators. Watch now.

 

DCIS: Developing workshops to better diversify the school’s student leadership. Watch now.

 


CMAS Testing Window Begins March 13

The Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) assessments are Colorado’s state assessments for third- through ninth-grade students to understand whether students have mastered the academic standards that are key to college and career readiness. Testing forCMAS will take place at schools between March 13-April 28.

Schools have sent home communications about which days each grade level will be testing within their school; please reach out to your school leader if you have any questions about CMAS or the testing schedule. To learn more about CMAS and how assessments help us ensure all students succeed, please visit our website .


Connecting Beyond the Classroom: Parent Teacher Home Visit Week

Cheltenham Elementary teachers Holly Charles, Laura Luscinski and Elisabeth Watkins met with their third- and fourth-grade students during this week's Parent Teacher Home Visit Week.

Cheltenham Elementary teachers Holly Charles, Laura Luscinski and Elisabeth Watkins met with their third- and fourth-grade students during this week’s Parent Teacher Home Visit Week.

This week has been Parent Teacher Home Visit Week, when our teachers stepped out around Denver to visit students and their families to get to know them outside of the classroom.

Research shows that families are essential to student and school success, and once a teacher and a student’s family have done the home visit, they are mutually supportive and accountable to each other. Through these relationships, our families are better able to support their kids’ academics, and our teachers bring what they lear n about the students into the classroom, building trust and improving overall student learning.

As one parent shared: “The parent/teacher connection that starts at a visit shows the child that we are connected. Seeing my son’s face when his teacher came into our house was awesome.”

Thank you to all of our teachers who have gone the extra mile this week to support our kids and help ensure Every Child Succeeds.

COMING UP…

March 27-31: Spring Break – DPS schools closed 


» Stay on top of DPS news by signing up to receive Our DPS Weekly e-newsletters like this one every Friday.