Examining extra-early release days

Wayland+Public+Schools+experienced+its+first+of+four+extra-early+releases+on+Wednesday%2C+Sept.+18.+%22The+idea+is+that+the+faculty+can+work+together+in+a+more+sustained+way+on+particular+topics+that+helps+sustain+our+work%2C%22+WHS+Principal+Allyson+Mizoguchi+said.+

Credit: Charlie Moore

Wayland Public Schools experienced its first of four extra-early releases on Wednesday, Sept. 18. “The idea is that the faculty can work together in a more sustained way on particular topics that helps sustain our work,” WHS Principal Allyson Mizoguchi said.

Charlie Moore

Students in Wayland Public Schools experienced their first ever professional development day on Wednesday, Sept. 18, where they departed from school at 12:15 p.m as opposed to the regular Wednesday release time of 2:25 p.m. 

The extra-early release was the first of four for the 2019-20 school year. WHS will see three more: Nov. 20, Jan. 8 and Feb. 26. The altered release days were the start of a district-wide precedent that will create sustained time for professional development within Wayland faculty. Teachers across the Wayland elementary, middle and high schools will be able to meet for more time in order to discuss improvement and reform. 

“Generally, the staff does not have enough time to work together on professional development topics,” WHS Principal Allyson Mizoguchi said. “There are times when departments can work together, but it’s in small chunks generally – an hour max. This is just a new model where it’s sustained times. The idea is that the faculty can work together in a more sustained way on particular topics that help sustain our work.”

During the first professional development meeting, the WHS staff opened a discussion regarding social-emotional learning. The following extra-early releases will allow the staff to continue discussions on this topic. 

“We are going to be doing a deep dive into the social-emotional health of our students and how we can help support our kids,” Mizoguchi said. “We’re going to have a speaker from McClain Hospital come in November to talk to us about anxiety and depression.”

Because these early releases are a district-wide precedent, other Wayland Public Schools are utilizing the after-school time for further faculty development as well. 

“The elementary level [is] using the time a little bit differently – they actually have even more time constraints, because there are three different elementary schools,” Mizoguchi said. “But when are all the first-grade teachers going to get together? They’re really trying to craft their professional development around grade-specific issues, as I understand it. [The] middle school is also doing social-emotional learning.”

The idea to have extra-early releases cropped up after the decision to shift school start times. With WHS and WMS starting an hour later and elementary schools an hour earlier, time for staff meetings as they were previously scheduled was shortened. 

“Our old model was with Wednesday’s early release,” Mizoguchi said. “We got out at 1:05, but the faculty would be here until about 2:45. We would have about 90 minutes to dig into things. There are a lot of issues that are both department-specific as well as school-wide that demand our attention. This is just another model for creating more sustained time [after school] on Wednesdays.”

Although new to Wayland, the use of professional development days is not uncommon in the academic realm. School districts across the country have released as early as 12:15 p.m., if not earlier, in order to direct sustained time for professional development.

“Some districts do full day releases, like if there’s a Friday before a long weekend,” Mizoguchi said. “This is just inching in that direction. We’re just trying to create more sustained time to work on issues.”