- Associated Press - Saturday, February 7, 2015

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - Before students started classes, Lincoln Elementary School staff learned about technology.

“When it comes to new learning, I know some folks may be a little nervous,” said Laura Stanner, a technology integration specialist with Keystone Area Education Agency.

She put those nerves to rest on a recent Friday morning by showing how staff can collaborate to maximize Microsoft OneDrive and Word Online.

“It’s exciting because it will really help us be able to communicate what we do in our class with everyone,” said Julie Borgwardt, a physical education teacher.

The Telegraph Herald reports (https://bit.ly/1Cw44gF ) Dubuque Community Schools this year started using one-hour late arrivals each Friday to give consistent professional development for school staff.

“It’s been a good investment in the education of our students,” said Superintendent Stan Rheingans.

Schools across the district have used the time to train teachers on how to effectively use technology, individualize learning, analyze data and more.

“I really think it’s making impacts in the classroom,” Rheingans said.

Lincoln staff had been used to weekly professional development, or staff training, because the Title I school in prior years let students out early every Wednesday.

“We made the transition to the Friday late arrival quite with ease,” said Principal Donna Loewen.

Lincoln staff have one hour and 20 minutes of weekly professional development, about 10 minutes less than in prior years. Staff, it seems, have embraced the transition.

“There is much more energy and momentum on a Friday morning than there was on a Wednesday after school,” Loewen said. “People are tired after school.”

While Lincoln had weekly early releases, Bryant Elementary School was among the majority of schools that received once-per-month professional development.

“Oftentimes we would lose one or more of those each year due to weather,” said Bryant Principal Vicki Sullivan.

She said the change to weekly late arrivals has been “a powerful weekly event for us.” Teachers, as well as some paraprofessionals, have been able to have ongoing discussions about things such as student strengths and needs, ways to address those, and the impact of culture and climate at the elementary school.

Sullivan, like Loewen, appreciates the morning collaboration time. She said staff comes in fresh and they are able to capitalize every minute.

Julie Lammer, an art teacher at Lincoln, said there has been more collaboration building-wide and district-wide this school year.

During Friday’s technology training, Lammer helped steer Borgwardt in the right direction a few times.

“She knows so much more than I do about computers,” Borgwardt said.

Stanner, who visits multiple schools, enjoyed that collaboration. She said her role is to show teachers how to efficiently use technology to support their mission as educators.

Technology is a focus of training every month at Lincoln. Loewen said technology “is so critical to our forward movement as educators.”

“We seem to get right to work,” Loewen said. “We’re always amazed at what we can accomplish with the minutes we have.”

Concerns about child care were raised by some when the change to late arrivals was announced last year. Rheingans said most people are accustomed to the late arrivals now.

“We get very few concerns raised about that now,” he said.

Parents have placed their children in before-school programs, such as those provided by St. Mark Youth Enrichment and Dubuque Community YMCA/YWCA, or found other alternatives for Fridays. Sullivan said participation in Y Care at Bryant on Friday mornings is a little higher than on other days.

At Lincoln, paraprofessionals who volunteered to arrive early Friday spend time with students who have forgotten about the late arrival.

“As time has gone on, it’s gotten better,” Borgwardt said about students arriving early. “It was a change for them.”

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Information from: Telegraph Herald, https://www.thonline.com


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