Dee Hansen, a parent of kids at Cottonwood Elementary, told me about a free online preschool program called UPSTART that was created by Waterford. He said that 15 minutes of UPSTART every day resulted in his kids starting kindergarten reading at a 3rd grade level! My kids did it too (but it was called Rusty and Rosie) and it was fantastic. His idea was to figure out how to better get every preschooler in our district using it. You've got my wheels turning Dee!
Ms. Jensen, a teacher at Olympus High, had the idea that we eliminate midterms. If teachers update their grades regularly on Canvas and/or gradebook, parents and students can already check their grades at any given moment. By the time parents get the midterms, they are usually already outdated. Also with the integration of PBG, it is possible midterms would be irrelevant. Could save teachers some time!
Juan Arce-Larreta, a parent of kids at Driggs Elementary and Wasatch Junior, had the idea that we could designate a position in the PTA dedicated to helping new parents get their bearings. This person could help parents understand policies, traditions, and cultural practices. My kids are at a new school this year too, and I can attest that this would have been so helpful for me!
Alycia Spencer, who has kids at Crestview, Olympus Jr. and Olympus High sent me an article that reminded me about how effective restorative justice can be in schools! I worked a lot with restorative justice at Horizonte and found it to be really helpful. Check out the article: https://www.chicagoreporter.com/whats-the-alternative-to-police-in-schools-restorative-justice/
Star Orullian, Director of the Granite Education Association (our teachers' union) had the idea that we can focus on attracting substitute teachers to our district by improving their working conditions. Currently, finding a substitute is really hard for our teachers, which makes it hard for them to take the time off they need.
Ms. Tolley, an ASL teacher at Skyline High had that idea that we could make the mental health of our kids a community effort. We could get city officials, church leaders, school leaders, business leaders, and families all involved in the process to help our kids with the one issue that has been huge in our communities for the last 20+ years: strong mental health.
Mr. Reid, a social studies teacher at Skyline High, noticed that we have a really quick turnaround for our coaches in all sports. This is because they have to do absolutely everything: fundraising, equipment, uniforms, event planning, communications with parents, etc, AND they need to coach. He had the great idea that if we could just fund our Athletic Directors to work full time on our sports, we could keep quality coaches and our students could excel even more in their sports. (They currently get one period per day to run all the sports in our building!) The Athletic Director could be in charge of all the ancillary stuff, allowing coaches to be concerned with COACHING. Great idea!
Patti Hession has children that attend Rosecrest Elementary, Evergreen Jr High and Olympus High School, where she is on the the Community Council. She is also our current Olympus PTA Council President. She would love to see an option for a 5th period be offered at Olympus High School. This would help kids that have a hard time in the morning or that are needing to make up a credit by giving them this 5th period option every day. Research has shown teenagers are more effective later in the day. This could really help some students!
Ann-Marie Hopkins, a parent of a student at Olympus High School, had the idea that we could encourage more kids to take the tougher classes by grading AP, IB, and Honors classes on a 5 point scale. That way, they wouldn’t be afraid of ruining their GPA with a B+ in a really tough class! Some school districts do this in other states!
When students qualify for Special Education, they sit down with school officials and create an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), which helps them get an educational experience that accommodates their individual needs and helps them learn according to their own strengths and weaknesses. Ms. Tolley (who teaches ASL at Skyline) has the idea that instead of treating every school the same in our district, we could put each school on it's own IEP! I love it.
Meg Thunell is the Chair fo the Community Council at Crestview Elementary and also has kids at Olympus Junior High and Olympus High School. Her Council tries to pay for teacher aides to lessen the burden of large class sizes for teachers; however, our district pay scale is such that a person can earn more working at a fast food restaurant, so it's hard to attract good people. Meg has the idea that we can still allocate the same funds to aides, but hire less of them and pay them more so we can get good quality help for our students. Oh what a difference a good aide can make in a class!
Thank you to Michael Aguilar, who has kids at Oakwood, but who is considering moving them to an integrating school in our district, who got me thinking about the desegregation of schools. I've thought a lot about racism, but not much about the larger issue of desegregation. This idea is interesting and really got me thinking and looking for solutions in our own district.
This would entail maintaining a normal daily schedule where each student is expected to log in to class at their current scheduled time and school resumes as usual, just online. Teachers lecture. Students have discussion groups. Education continues. It would not increase teacher workload, but it would limit the number of people in the school. This idea came from Jessica Jenkins, a parent of a student at Olympus High.
Martin Bates, Granite's superintendent, proposed this idea at the very beginning of our pandemic planning process to our school board. He suggested that students be divided into 2 groups. One group would learn in class M/W and then do online learning T/H/F and the other group would do in class learning T/H, but online learning M/W/F.
This idea would entail delaying the start of school for a few weeks or months until it is safer for students to come to school. Some districts in our area are doing this.
This plan would divide students up in to 4 groups. All students would do online learning, but they'd each come to school one day per week to have class in person. Fridays would be online school only.
Some of these families will team up to share the work and allow children some safe company, or if budgets allow, even hire a teacher to help. We could get kids who have similar classes together and they could do the work together and provide a little support!
This is an idea I learned from a teacher from Holland. They are having kids come to school, but they are given a place to sit in the common areas and classrooms so they can socially distance. The teachers teach on their regular schedule, via Zoom. Students do work and have group discussions, but they can choose to do it at home or at the school. The teachers are not overloaded or put in harm's way and all students have an opportunity to either come to school where they are safe, focused, and fed, or to stay home where they are safe. (Can you tell I like this plan?)
Students take a lot of time walking around to figure out what seat they will sit at. With a seating's chart they can go straight to their seat without contaminating the room. A seating chart will also help us understand points of contact when a student gets covid.
We will be missing out on a lot of funding that comes from ticket sales at football games this year! Patti Hession had the idea that we can charge families a small price to stream live games. That would be awesome because then my family in other states could watch my child play as well!
The Olympus Junior High Community Council had the idea that parents, who are dying to help right now, but really shouldn't be in schools much, could help keep kids safe during lunchtime when they go outside to eat. It's so true! Parents want to help so much right now!
Many people have shared the idea with me that we allow teachers who are at risk to teach classes online. Where it is tricky to do that with High Schools, we could let an AP Physics teacher, for example, teach students from several schools online so that they can teach a full class load of students.
I've heard some people within the district express that perhaps it is time to do away with these! I see where they are coming from: parents can see how their child is doing at any time and can email a teacher to get help at any time; however, I like the opportunity to meet my kids teachers and as a teacher, I felt like it really enhanced my connection with a kid if I met their parent. This is definitely an idea we should think about!
Jen Omiste, who has kids at Skyline, has the idea that we could just teach the core classes and give kids a break on the elective classes for the time being. Elective teachers would team up with core teachers in order to ease the burden and improve outcomes. This would be a focus on quality of education rather than quantity of subjects.
This idea would entail in class school happening on Monday - Thursday and on Friday students would do directed learning (homework) while the teachers have time to prep for the next week and take care of all they will need doing both online and in person school.
This idea came from one of the elementary PTAs. They are thinking of using PTA funds to purchase HEPA filters for every single classroom so that air could be recirculated more often. This would cost about $200 per classroom I think.
Based on how teachers will be using shields in our classrooms, a neck up shield might prove to help protect our little ones better than a forehead down shield. These wouldn't replace masks, but would provide more protection to both student and teacher. This idea came from Jen Omiste, who has kids a Skyline and is an RN who has some experience with shields.