Professional Learning Community Focuses On Rcms Students


The biggest change this past school year at Rim Country Middle School was the formation of a professional learning community (PLC).

The motto the teachers wish to impress upon students is, in the words of the National Aeronautics and Space Agency: "Failure Is Not An Option."


The students at Rim Country Middle School have a variety of opportunities through special activities, such as the Kiwanis Builder's Club, to which these young people belong.

"One of the most exciting things that is happening as a result of the PLC has been our Achieve Class," Principal Monica Nitzsche said.

Teachers, the librarian and the entire student body take part in Achieve each day.

With only 20 to 22 students in each class, Johnny can get the extra help he needs in algebra and Susie can finish her social studies homework.

The format is akin to a guided study hall, but instead of one teacher, there are four for each Achieve class.

The sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders cannot simply choose not to work.

The areas the teachers focus on are study hall, tutoring, enrichment and "ZAP."

ZAP stands for "zeros aren't permitted."

So, if a student has earned a zero on an assignment they must work only on that assignment.

"(Achieve) is a way of teaching students responsibility for their own learning and being there to help them with it," Nitzsche said.

There are also a reward days for students who are tending to the business of learning.

The pairing between PLC and Achieve has just been "awesome," according to Nitzsche.

"I have never seen teachers work together and support each other so well," she said.

Choices and Challenges is another new class aimed at helping students understand the impact of their choices in life and make positive decisions.

The RCMS staff, including the recently hired intervention specialist Lori Standifird, is looking at interventions for disruptive behaviors such as bullying and acting out in class.

When misbehavior is addressed immediately, there is less classroom disruption. Plus, the student can return to social studies, math and reading that much sooner.

Students who turn in their assignments and behave appropriately are able to enjoy extra-curricular activities such as field trips.

Making those trips co-curricular is important.

Students have visited the Phoenix Zoo and Lowell Observatory to learn more about biology and astronomy.

Nitzsche hopes the trip the Arizona State University inspires her students to attend college after high school.

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