- Associated Press - Sunday, November 8, 2015

ASSUMPTION, Ill. (AP) - A set of small central Illinois school districts has created a professional learning community to allow its teachers to collaborate and exchange ideas.

The community arose after the principals of Central A&M;, Moulton and Okaw Valley middle schools took a class together, the (Decatur) Herald and Review (https://bit.ly/1kb1c2b) reports. A top concern they discussed was that teachers in small districts don’t have professional development and collaboration opportunities like in larger districts.

Central A&M; Middle School Principal Ryan Scott said the answer to that problem was to create the learning community to let teachers get together. Scott said the goal is to serve as a resource to each other because schools are all “teaching the same thing.”

“We’re all in the trenches with similar goals and resources, so we might as well help each other, because we’re kind of limited and isolated,” Scott said.

Okaw Valley Middle School Principal Ross Forlines said the idea was for teachers, including those who are the only ones in a subject at their school, to meet and bounce ideas off each other.

“We’re all in the same boat with small schools, struggling economies,” Frolines said. “We’re teaching same stuff to similar demographics, so why not share?”

Nicole Cunningham, the only literature teacher at Okaw Valley Middle School, said it’s helpful to share ideas with others in her subject. Nathan Bohannon, who teaches language arts at Central A&M;, said he told those in his small group of colleagues how he gradually introduces concepts in the weeks before a research paper is due.

Scott said science and math teachers met in September, and are interested in meeting again in the spring.

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Information from: Herald & Review, https://www.herald-review.com

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