McCOOK, Nebraska -- It's becoming a "we" instead of a "me" thing when it comes to new teaching practices at McCook Schools.
"Teachers can no longer go by themselves into their room and close their doors," Superintendent Grant Norgaard said Monday night at the regular McCook School Board meeting. Instead, the new teaching theory McCook teachers are using emphasizes collaborative efforts among teachers of all grades, to identify learning goals and to build on successes.
Norgaard gave a presentation to the McCook School Board on how teachers are learning and applying the new teaching theory, that they work on every Wednesday afternoon, after students are dismissed at 2 p.m.
As a team, teachers develop curriculum that includes criteria reference testing, where they can identify to what degree students have mastered a subject; data analysis and core learning objectives. Collaborative problem solving and comparing strategies are also discussed among teachers.
Success and failures are shared, Norgaard said and once a month, teachers attend break-out sessions at the junior high on their particular subject, such as math or science, with teachers from all grades.
This is so teachers can be sure students are mastering the essential learnings about a subject in each grade, eliminating redundant teaching.
The core learning goal for all students is for them to apply what they learn in a subject, to other areas of life, Norgaard said. This takes not only mastery of a subject but critical thinking, analyzing, evaluating and then creating.
Core learning is more than just memorization, he said, although that does have its place for some learning techniques.
"Remembering is great for "Jeopardy," but not for real life," Norgaard said.
The teaching method doesn't hold back high ability learners, he clarified, but rather, emphasizes individualized instruction, using feedback and communication from other teachers.
The method focuses on accountability of teachers as well, he said.
"Teachers are no longer an island and a student's failure cannot be ignored," he said.