Most of you have already started planning professional development for August. You’ve identified your priorities for next year by using student data and school trends. We were so excited to see that so many districts participated in our PD Strategic Plan Initiative, and we hope to expand on that even further next year. As you plan for adults, we know that creating engaging PD that fits all learners’ needs can be tough, so we found a few resources and tips and tricks to support your work!
Education Week produced a report, Blind Spots in Teacher Professional Development, that highlights ways in which we can respect where each teacher is in his/her current practice. When you are planning professional development, considering the following:
Consider involving teachers in the planning process as much as possible to honor the experience, expertise and knowledge your staff has. Education Week notes that some school leaders are offering teachers options that give them ownership over their own PD—from in-house professional learning communities to un-conferences, in which teachers set the PD agenda and learn from each other. Some schools are also exploring creative ways to respond to teacher feedback about how they like to learn.
At Big Spring High School, staff member Nicole Donato said, "When I first got here, there was no teacher choice at all," said Donato. Teachers were required to meet with her twice a month during their planning periods. Everyone with the same planning period was in the same PD group, with no separation by subject area or grade level.
Realizing that teachers were disengaged, Donato worked with the school's principal to develop a new system with what she calls "best practice groups." Each semester, teachers choose to work on one area of the school's instructional framework—literacy strategies, for example, or scaffolding and differentiation. They also pick the format for their twice-monthly professional learning. Cross-curricular planning, one-on-one coaching and group lesson study are some of the options. With best practice groups, PD is more "real time," said Powell. "Sessions are focused on problems she's actually facing in her classroom at that time, and she can take back concrete solutions to test out. The work doesn't feel divorced from her day-to-day," she said.
You made it! School's out, kids are gone, and while you may have vacations planned, summer PD scheduled and you're finally beginning those books that have been waiting for you all year, don't neglect one critical item: your school's social media accounts.
Two questions: Did you realize that customer service within your schools is everyone's responsibility, not just those sitting in the front office? And did you know that DonorsChoose.org is not the only site you can use to raise money for your classrooms?
As more and more schools’ budgets are being further reduced, reductions in force (RIF) continue to be explored by many districts. A couple more questions frequently asked are worth reviewing once again this year.
Think back to your first year in education and your experiences in the classroom. It was probably one of the hardest years of your professional life and by October, you might have been asking yourself, “what am I doing here?” In my case, I think I cried at least once a month if not more.