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.
Now that the session is over, we can finally finish sifting through all the new and changed laws that will affect our schools. I’ve compiled a spreadsheet of bills that passed, with a brief summary of each.
This is what I hope all Oklahoma educators are feeling as they move into summer breaks: A STATE OF URGENCY! I am quite confident that Oklahoma professional educators cringe every time a new statistic or decision regarding education makes headlines, such as the 5th & 8th grade spring writing tests being invalidated.
Hard to believe it is already that wonderful time of the year again! But for many, this is also the time of looking ahead to next year: planning the calendar and ensuring what new ideas you implemented this year are in place as part of next year's normal routine.
“Digital Native.” This is a common term for the generation of students in your classrooms today and next fall.