Professional Learning Teams

Empowering North County Catholic School Teachers and Students for the Future using Google Classrooms, Blended Learning and Differentiation

Catholic Schools for Tomorrow Award Innovations in Education

The Federation of Catholic Schools Professional Learning Teams received a boost for 2017-18 with the news of a $100,000 Beyond Sunday Academic Capacity Enhancement Grant from the Roman Catholic Foundation of Eastern Missouri. The grant project will provide each school in the Federation with a classroom set of 30 Chromebooks (with charging storage cart) and professional development for teachers through the PLTs and beyond.

The grant will help provide consistent access to technology equipment and training, support teachers to develop confidence and creativity in using blended learning to address individual student needs, and increase student achievement in math.

The grant will help provide consistent access to technology equipment and training, support teachers to develop confidence and creativity in using blended learning to address individual student needs, and increase student achievement in math.

Principals agree that this initiative will help them implement their schools' STREAM curriculum goals. A lead teacher, who will become a Google Certified Educator this summer, will be the point person at each school and will assist the rest of the teachers in their building as they all become familiar with the equipment (Chromebooks) and technology (GSuite for Education and Google Classrooms).

Some of the 2017-18 PLT time will be dedicated to learning more about best practices in Differentiated Learning through a book study. Each teacher will receive a copy of The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners by Carol Ann Tomlinson and the PLTs will discuss how the concepts in the book can be applied in their classrooms.

North County Teachers Celebrate $100K Beyond Sunday Grant at May PLT Gathering

Over 100 teachers from the Federation of Catholic Schools gathered at St. Rose Philippine Duchesne School in Florissant on May 5th for their final Professional Learning Team meeting of the school year. They learned more about the $100,000 Beyond Sunday grant that was awarded to the Federation of Catholic Schools for the 2017-18 school year. Grant funds will provide one classroom set of Chromebooks for each Federation school, as well as access to a variety of professional development opportunities in using Google Gsuite as well as Differentiated Instruction techniques. Each school will also have at least one teacher on staff who is or will become a certified Google educator.

Sherri Kulpa and Jonathon Lee, representatives from EdPlus, led the teachers through an exercise to help identify what types of learning opportunities would be most beneficial for the various teachers individually and as part of their PLT.

To position the whole discussion, they showed this video clip. "When you know your WHY, your WHAT becomes more impactful because you're walking towards or in your PURPOSE."

Previous Article on PLTs:

Federation Teachers Renew Commitment to

PLTs for Fifth School Year

On Friday, September 12 all the teachers from the Northeast Deanery Federation of Catholic Schools gathered for their first Professional Learning Team meeting for the 2014-15 school year. This is the fifth year of the PLT program, which began in 2010-11 when the Northeast Deanery Federation was formed. This year, the Federation welcomes teachers from neighboring Catholic School, St. Ann in Normandy. Teachers from St. Ann will participate in the PLTs this year.

The group began in prayer with the Beatitudes for Catholic Educators. Mr. Ken Morr, principal at St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, shared that this year, after trying a new format in the past school year, PLTs will again form by grade level and subject area, which worked well in previous years. This year team leaders will also be getting more direction and support from principals this year - the team leaders met as a group in early September and will continue to receive guidance from the principal in their school building.

Peggy O'Brien, principal at Our Lady of Guadalupe School, brought the group up-to-date on the history of PLTs, which began when the Northeast Deanery Federation was established in 2010 after several years of discussions, meetings and planning for how to continue and increase the excellence of the Catholic schools in North County. “I believe these PLTs and the Federation are the best thing that ever happened to our schools,” said Ms. O’Brien. “This provides our educators a network of friends, and a source of support from fellow professionals. Teachers give and get many great ideas from their colleagues, and then they are able to bring those ideas to their classrooms and impact student learning.” Addie Govero, principal at Blessed Teresa of Calcutta School, shared with the group some more details about the recent team leaders meeting. The team leaders all how important PLT time was, wanted to revive after a bit of a struggle last year. Administrators here to help prepare, plan, be part of meeting if needed. The format for each PLT meeting will include a review of a current article or literature on a topic of interest. It can be brief enough that group members can read it at the start of the meeting and take some time to discuss how the concept might benefit or affect their classroom teaching. The second task of the PLT meeting will be to set a goal for the year and then review progress against the goal. The remaining time of each PLT meeting will be spent sharing struggles or challenges that a teacher may be facing, with other group members offering support and ideas for ways to address the challenge.

“As Catholic educators, it’s also important that we bring our faith into our PLT groups and discussions,” said Mrs. Govero. “This differentiates us from public school professional learning teams, and allows us to go deeper and share what’s going on in our school communities and classrooms and how we are Alive in Christ.”

In 2011, the PLTs received national recognition with a Catholic Schools for Tomorrow Award for Innovations in Education from Today’s Catholic Teacher magazine.

Federation Teachers "Take it Up a Notch"

There is little doubt that the teachers in our Catholic schools are dedicated and talented professionals educators. The challenge, however, for small schools – often with just one class per grade – is that these teachers have little opportunity to grow professionally with colleagues that teach their grade or their subject specialties. The Federation wants to change that.

Since August 2010, teachers in all grades at all eight Federation schools have been meeting regularly to exchange ideas, share teaching strategies, and research new methodologies.

“The teachers in our schools have often had to teach in isolation trying to be everything to every child in their class,” explains Jennifer Stutsman, principal of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. “Through these Professional Learning Teams, our teachers are learning from each other, challenging the status quo, and seeking new methods to help each child learn.”

Throughout the school year, the teams will meet during professional development days and in their free time. A coordinator is responsible for each group, with groups divided by grade or subject area. Even teachers in special subject areas such as art, music, and P.E. have created professional learning teams.

In their early meetings, teams were asked to identify several goals for the year. Some examples include:

  • Third grade teachers will be working with students on their writing skills by establishing pen pals across the eight schools, culminating in a joint field trip.

  • The librarians at each school are creating a resource guide to share with each other about where to buy books, what each school has, and what books are popular with the students now.

  • The upper grade literature teachers will be focusing on student comprehension by studying and applying the theory of Multiple Intelligences.

Parish funds in support of the Federation have been allocated to provide for purchasing research materials, to hire substitutes if the teachers want to observe each other, and to purchase supplies for a collaborative learning project.

“Our schools are blessed with amazingly dedicated professionals,” adds Stutsman. “Now we get to help them take it up a notch and truly improve student learning across our schools."