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School Board to vote on schedule changes

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Since the 2010-11 school year, Twin Bluff Middle School Principal Chris Palmatier has considered changes to the school schedule to better meet students’ needs.

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Those changes could become a reality as soon as this fall, as the Red Wing School Board is scheduled to vote on proposal Tuesday night.

Palmatier worked with Director of Teaching and Learning Joe Jezierski as well as Twin Bluff Middle School Assistant Principal Craig Mares over the last few years to develop the plan.

Palmatier and Jezierski presented the proposed schedule at the Feb. 3 School Board meeting and Palmatier began by stressing the importance of school schedules.

“It’s where all of your resources come together to meet the needs of the students,” he said. “That schedule should reflect what the students need.”

Palmatier said the schedule would provide more instructional time for students in sixth and seventh grade, daily learning in math, language arts, science and social studies, and more opportunities for exploratory options.

The current schedule at TBMS is not broken, Palmatier added, and great things happen every day with the talented teachers at the middle school, but students’ needs are changing and this is an opportunity to examine the schedule.

Kirby Hanson, TBMS science teacher, doesn’t think the examination period for potential schedules should be over, however.

“I’m not satisfied with the process at all,” said Hanson, who also is a teachers union leader.

There was a tremendous amount of staff input that hasn’t seemed to alter the decision-making process as much as he would like, Hanson said, adding there are still a number of details about the new schedule which have yet to be understood completely by teachers at the middle school.

Teachers aren’t opposed to a change in schedule, he said, and there are positive aspects of the proposed schedule.

Other options, which were presented as late as September and included many of the key components of the proposed schedule, were not given enough consideration, Hanson said.

Jezierski said the schedule going before the board is not set in stone and it continues to be a work in progress, adding there are always struggles when adjusting to change.

“It’s a wrestling match sometimes to try and figure out what’s in the best interest of the students,” he said. “There are certain things that a middle school child needs. They need to be supported, they need to know about study skills, they need to know about self-advocacy.”

Proposed changes

•Advisory – A block of 30 minutes every week with the goal to promote small, caring communities of learners. The advisory is different than homebase, Director of Teaching and Learning Joe Jezierski said, adding it’s not meant for homework or reading. Benefiting a student is not all about the curriculum, Twin Bluff Middle School Principal Chris Palmatier said, it’s also about meeting the emotional needs of the students.

•Team teaching – Students and teachers are grouped into teams to afford teachers time during the day to collectively address student issues and concerns as well as provide opportunities for collective dialogue. Palmatier said having time set aside for teachers to discuss how to best meet a student’s needs is important. Students are placed on a team which is taught by the same core area teachers.

•Schedule – Students would move to an eight-period day with class times of 42 minutes per period as opposed to the current seven-period day where the majority of periods are 45 minutes. Flexible scheduling would allow teachers the ability to make some decisions about the course of the day and students would not always move on the bell, Palmatier said.

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