Initiative promotes better learning, communication among county schools

Published 11:59 pm Monday, March 7, 2016

Students at Florala High School participate in a fetal pig dissection as part of learning labs.

Students at Florala High School participate in a fetal pig dissection as part of learning labs.

Covington County Schools is working to strengthen the curriculum across the board through a new initiative called CCS Connect.

Through the imitative, local educators build relationships or strengthen existing ones and share resources, strategies and best practices.

DeeDee Holland of CCS said that there are four major components of the initiative.

The first is called the CCS Connect Web Portal, which is an online site for educators in the Covington County Schools district to share resources, strategies and best practices.

The second portion is professional learning community break out sessions.

This includes three half days of professional development during the school year for content area teachers from across the county to collaborate.

The next part is joint planning and support sessions.

It includes side-by-side embedded professional development and support for secondary teachers, and gives teachers the opportunity to share ideas and resources acquired from one content expert to another throughout the district.

Finally, classroom learning labs offer an opportunity for peer-to-peer observations with reflective exchange.

Teachers have enjoyed the collaboration so far.

“It was a very beneficial and rewarding experience for me,” said Red Level High School teacher Britta Lambert. “I was able to leave my comfort zone (RLHS) and experience the way other science teachers do things in their classroom. I was able to reflect on what works for me in my classroom, determine why it works for me, and even pick up some new ideas to possibly incorporate in the future. I think this new program could really improve our connectivity between the different schools in our county, so that we all realize we really are in this together.”

Heath Watkins, teacher at RLHS, also shared his thoughts.

“With the ever-changing daily demands of teacher in the classroom and the new science curriculum coming next year, this was a very positive learning experience for me,” he said. “Shadowing afforded me a unique opportunity to see different teaching methods and technology being used in the classroom.”

Holland said that she and Nikki Guilford have worked together on the development, implementation, evaluation and sustainability of the initiative.

“Our goal is to help foster more of a seamless connection and sense of community among professionals within individual schools, from school to school, and from schools to the central office,” she said.