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.
The school year is over, summer break has begun and teachers all over are getting a well-deserved break. I hope that you get the rest and relaxation you need to recharge your batteries! If there’s one thing I’ve learned in education, however, it’s that teachers don't really take summer off.
The Teaching & Learning team has spent the last few months focusing on your feedback and creating innovative, new PD offerings to meet your needs. With state testing and this week's walkout, we understand that April may be bringing feelings of uncertainty, anxiety and concern. Know that we are here to support you.
Happy New Year to you all! I hope your holidays were filled with peace and joy. With 2017 now underway, schools face some changes with ESSA compliance, as well as a U.S. Supreme Court ruling anticipated to issue a final determination on the U.S. Department of Education’s stance on Title IX’s applicability to gender identity.
It’s your day! Not Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparents Day or Secretary's Day but Teacher Appreciation Day, and if any working professional deserves a day of recognition, it is YOU!