Today I spent 4 hours with our district leadership discussing Professional Development. While this probably sounds boring, tedious, and long, it was one of the best days I have spent so far this year! I was in a room that was too small for us, discussing the definition of PD, what it should look like, how we need to build it and create a roadmap for it, and how we should work with school sites, principals, and coaches on sites. It was a very important and enlightening conversation.
First of all, I finally have a picture of our school district’s goals, objectives and plan for our district over the next 3-5 years. We obviously didn’t get a roadmap created, that was a large goal to accomplish in four hours, but we had deep, rich discussions about learning, teaching, supporting teachers and students, creating and utilizing assessment data to inform and enrich classroom teaching, and teaching strategies and the reasoning for utilizing different strategies.
Secondly, we created sticky note posters about the foundations of teaching and how we want to build a strong culture of learning on this foundation: Classroom Management, Knowing When and How to use Instructional Strategies, Formative and Summative Assessment, and Deep Content Knowledge. The really wonderful thing, the discussions revolved around creating definitions and unified understandings of what these were, discussions like student choice and engagement, changing the culture of learning, teachers as facilitators, inquiry, PBL, the cycle of improving learning, informative feedback, and so many other wonderful ideas, I could go on.
Our district has gone through some huge changes the past year, and is re-organizing. This can be a good or bad thing, but for today, it was good. There were some really great educators together in this room, and the one or two that didn’t really buy into the entire process chose not to return after lunch, and the discussion and plans for moving forward that came out of that session were wonderful. We created a plan for sharing these ideas with principals, and are going to meet again after this to review and reflect on how principals reacted to the information and discuss anything further that came out of that meeting. From there we will be building a roadmap for professional development for our district, and working hard to keep a lot of it at the site level, to work on supporting and building the site-level goals and objectives.
Another thing that really excited me was the number of teachers in the room. We outnumbered the administrators 2 to 1. We were an active and vital part of the discussion, and our ideas were an important part of the building of the foundations for this.
PD for teachers, by teachers. What a concept.