28 March 2011

Education Summit preview: Dayna Laur

We asked participants in "State of the Schools: A Countywide Education Summit" to respond to three questions about our schools, and we're sharing their responses on Mondays through the week of the summit on April 14. These are the questions we posed:
  • What’s the biggest challenge confronting public education in York County today?
  • What can the community in York County realistically expect to achieve to deal with that challenge?
  • What would your first priority for action be?
Today, we hear from Dayna Laur, an award-winning and nationally recognized teacher at Central York High School.

When I entered the teaching profession 13 years ago, realizing the impact I would have on the lives of students was both exciting and challenging. The same holds true today. However, the way in which I educate students has changed.

Dayna Laur, a teacher at Central York and
an authority on technology in the classroom,
says districts should collaborate on professional
development to share costs, generate savings
and reach more teachers.

While the teaching methodologies I employed in the classroom more than a decade ago were adequate and are still relevant today, the students themselves require something more. The rapid pace at which technology is shifting and becoming an ever-increasing presence in our daily lives requires a classroom that reflects this fact. Engaging students, creating authentic learning environments and providing technology-infused opportunities for students to learn, design, and collaborate are paramount to education today.

Unfortunately, with these needs also comes a high price tag in order to equip a staff of teachers well trained to provide these prospects to students. In an economy suffering from the effects of a recession, it has become increasingly difficult to provide teachers with these opportunities. It is imperative that districts work together in order to find viable solutions to this stark reality.

York County school districts have been afforded top-quality teachers. However, veteran teachers and those newest to the profession require ongoing professional development in order to provide our students with the best opportunities for enhancing their 21st-century skills. As the technology changes and opens a wide variety of prospects for student and teacher collaboration on a global scale, teachers must be made aware of how to employ these innovative and engaging techniques in the curriculum.

In order to make this professional development economically feasible and equitable across districts, it is time for all districts across the county to work collaboratively to provide professional development opportunities. Sharing the costs and resources will offer districts the ability to grant teachers continuing education in a “train-the-trainer” model. Each district would provide several teachers for a countywide training and, in turn, the teachers would return to their respective districts to provide on-site training for their staffs. In doing so, costs would be diminished and trainings would be extended to reach more teachers across York County.

While it may be impossible to overcome the disparity in local tax dollars that are allotted to each district, through the use of this model, districts would be in a position to decrease professional development expenditures, while increasing professional development opportunities.

Dayna Laur is a 13-year veteran social studies teacher at Central York High School and is a National Faculty Member for the Buck Institute for Education. She has her National Board Certification, a bachelor’s degree in history from Virginia Tech, a Master of Arts degree in education in curriculum and instruction from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Master of Science degree in 21st-century teaching and learning from Wilkes University.Over the past four years, she has worked closely with the Classrooms for the Future initiative in Pennsylvania, presenting to teachers, instructional technology coaches, administrators, and higher education faculty members on ways in integrate project-based learning in a technology-rich classroom environment. She has been featured as the model teacher for Authentic Based Classroom Instruction as produced by the National Institute for Professional Practice and as a model teacher for the Schools that Work Series as produced by Edutopia.


Steve Feldmann said...

I found Ms. Laur's comments interesting. It got me thinking - do the varous school districts coordinate their teacher inservice days? If districts scheduled these days cooperatively, they could also cooperate to have larger inservice programs that could address Ms. Laur's concerns collectively.

In addition, local malls, movie theatres, resturants and other gathering places could market to the out-of-school kids from several districts on a single day, generating higher profile sales opportunities. A win for teachers and a win for local business??

Who else might benefit from such coordinated efforts?



Anonymous said...

Mr. Feldmann -

Each school board approves their own calendar which includes inservice days. There are certainly opportunities to coordinate days, but as far as I am aware, this does not intentionally happen.

Your idea about local businesses reaping the benefits is intriguing. Certainly businesses could coordinate a special offering on purchased items to entice patronage during these days. The Fountainblu Skating Rink specifically opens for West Shore school students on all days that the district does not hold classes during the school year.

Dayna Laur