Inside a great elementary school: A talk with Dayle Timmons

Twelve years ago, Chets Creek Elementary School joined the then-popular systemic reform initiative called “America’s Choice” — with the goal to turn “a good school into a great school.” The K-5 elementary in Jacksonville FL reached that goal, and long after the school’s contract expired and America’s Choice drifted into the wake of a tsunami called No Child Left Behind, Chets Creek continues to be a great place to teach and learn.

In this interview with TeachersCount, former Florida teacher of the year Dayle Timmons, now a literacy coach and looping K-1 teacher, describes the embedded professional development program developed during the Choice years that continues to make Chets Creek such a successful school. Timmons tells TeachersCount that

We offer job-embedded, teacher driven professional development. To me job embedded professional development means that training is offered on the clock as part of the regular teaching day. It is directly applicable to what a teacher is teaching. Teacher driven means that the training is directly related to what individual teachers need and want. The training is differentiated, depending on the needs and interests of the teacher.

She goes on to describe the school’s Teacher Meeting strategy, a gathering where you will never find a “discussion about the holiday party or what food items we are suppose to bring to the Teacher of the Year Breakfast or problems with bus students. This is a time for professional development, for teaching and learning.”

The best thing about this interview is the detail Timmons offers in describing how teachers themselves have led and continue to lead Chets Creek to high performance. The next best thing is the link to her school blog, The Timmons Times, where she documents the daily life of Chets Creek and the professional work of its teachers. It’s a compelling and reflective journal of practice — and while it is of interest to all school and teacher leaders looking for authentic examples of fully embedded PD, it’s a gold mine for folks in the primary grades.

Dayle is, of course, a member of the Teacher Leaders Network!