OGDEN -- School hasn't really been out yet for teachers in Ogden School District. Many instructors have been attending conferences and workshops about new programs and ideas to implement in the classroom once school starts again in August.
This is the second year the teachers have participated in these types of workshops, where they can share ideas and get insights from educators from different parts of the United States.
It has been a good program, said LeAnne Rich, the district's coordinator for curriculum and professional development.
"We have learning communities with teacher development where teachers are supporting teachers," she said.
Teachers in most of the schools in the district now spend time nearly every day in collaboration with teachers from their same grade, going over things and making sure they are all on the same page.
That collaboration is then taken to the district level, so teachers can share ideas on instruction that has -- or hasn't -- worked.
Curricula at several schools are now starting to mirror each other with a new math program for elementary schools and a new honors program for the junior high schools. When students transfer to another school in the district, they can pick up where they left off at their previous school.
Rich said the teachers are becoming more highly trained because of this collaboration.
"It is amazing to watch them brainstorm, and the pockets of expertise. It's really powerful," she said.
The best part of it, she added, is that the power is being taken to the students.
James Madison first-grade teacher Jessica Namovicz said she loves the seminars that provide opportunity for collaboration and that it has had an impact on her performance in the classroom.
Superintendent Brad Smith said the collaboration is a huge contributor to the success Dee and Odyssey elementary schools have had in raising their test scores so dramatically in the past two years.
Because of the nature of their contract, teachers have many times been viewed as independent contractors, he said.
"They would go in their rooms and shut their doors and do their own thing."
Now, Smith said, because of the collaboration among the teachers, "profound change" is going on. "There is a higher level of intensity with teaching."
Rich agrees, saying, "For too long, we have left teachers to figure things out individually. We can learn from each other and mentor each other -- it is phenomenal."
One goal the district has is for teachers to understand that everyone's goals are the same -- educate students and help them to graduate.
"We are on a four-lane highway," Rich said, "and we are all going the same direction."