Everyone who affects student learning from the Board of Education, Central Office, principals, teachers, classified/support staff and parents are offered the opportunity to continually improve their knowledge and skills to ensure student learning. Rigorous, relevant and results oriented training opportunities are available throughout the year. The registration process for Staff Development offerings is available online.
In order to ensure that the district, state and federal initiatives are met, it is essential to provide a clear articulated plan for the district. Based on student achievement data and needs assessments, the district has identified focus areas for all staff. The content of professional development is the topic knowledge, skills, or competencies staff members need to meet district goals. It is “what staff members need to know”. The focus of professional development at the district and school levels is driven by student educational goals, the District's action plan and aims.
Involves teachers learning collaboratively from their own classrooms, using a range of informal and formal methods of gathering data for analysis and reflection.
Is a one-to-one relationship between a more experienced and less experienced teacher that encourages reflection and sharing to facilitate best instructional practice. Mentors are trusted practitioners who have a commitment to the professional learning and development of those who are less experienced. Mentees are staff who want or need to improve their professional knowledge and skills by entering into a relationship with a mentor.
The main function of a coach is to enhance the performance and learning ability of others. The coach often targets a specific aspect of teaching, offering feedback and suggestions to meet the specific needs of the teacher being coached.
Usually involves school-based practitioners planning and sharing their experience and expertise in relation to a specific aspect of learning and teaching. This form of collegial sharing can be extremely powerful as it is relevant to the context & needs of the participants.
At times it is appropriate to involve external consultants to address a specific professional learning need. This approach can be used to question assumptions, clarify teaching purposes and review current strategies. The introduction of a critical friend role can allow valuable objectivity to the reflection and evaluation of teaching practice as well as offering options which may not appear obvious to the teacher.
Involve staff selecting from a menu of pre-arranged workshops on specific aspects of teaching and learning. These workshops are conducted by presenters with specific knowledge, skills or expertise.
Completion of all course requirements results in participants receiving some form of formal accreditation or recognition. Workshops often target a very specific discipline area, student cohort or aspect of teaching and learning.
Participation in a professional reading program may involve a study group of individuals/colleagues who meet regularly to discuss, study and plan topics of common interest. An individual receiving support through a mentoring or coaching program may also access this type of professional learning.
Involves individuals identifying examples of worthwhile reading related to areas of current professional and personal interest. This process enables staff to ensure that their classroom practice is informed by the latest research and thinking in relation to agreed best practice.
Practicums or school visits provide a unique opportunity to work in classrooms to observe specific programs in action and to share teachers’ documentation, planning and strategies. Practicums are packaged as a defined length of time (e.g. 3 day program) and are highly structured to provide participants with maximum gains from the learning experience. Programs often culminate in participants/teams developing an action plan to implement at their own school.
The online learning approach allows teachers to access a wealth of logical resources at appropriate times to focus on their individual professional learning.
Professional conversations often occur as part of the Professional Learning Team Process. The challenge often faced is how to conduct conversations about pedagogy when the thinking that informs teachers’ actions and decision making is complex. The Principles of Learning and Teaching (PoLT) provide a scaffold for professional conversations to make explicit both the obvious and more tacit aspects of teacher practice.
Few activities are more powerful for professional learning than reflection on practice (Danielson, 2000). Teachers have an opportunity to reflect with colleagues as part of the teaming process. The teacher appraisal process also provides an opportunity for teachers to reflect on professional goals and practices.