A district committed to student achievement must re-culture itself for change. It must establish new systems for teamwork, communication, and collaboration. In effect, districts working to improve are asking staff to change significantly in the manner in which they work; how they make decisions; analyze and use data; plan for change; teach; monitor student learning; evaluate and train personnel; and, assess the impact of new approaches to instruction. Improving also asks staff to change significantly the manner in which they think about work to replace assumptions and hunches, especially about student learning, with facts; to open up their classroom doors and work with colleagues in teams; to consider their every action in terms of its impact on others and the entire learning community.
School District #109 will provide on-going professional development activities that are planned in congruence with the district goals and calendar, provide all community members with opportunities both to improve personal performance, and to learn new skills that support the development of all children.
A professional development committee comprised of staff from all buildings and discipline areas has been established to ensure that our professional development has relevant continuity, practical application, and opportunities for collaboration. Committee members will keep a thumb on the pulse of those people within their advocacy group in order to design meaningful learning experiences based on needs. A yearly needs assessment will also help the committee support staff needs.
Within our professional development opportunities, we provide district-wide opportunities that all certified staff attend (linking to District Improvement Goals and Initiatives) as well as building-specific opportunities that cater to building needs. We have also implemented book talks for all staff (certified and classified) to be able to participate in as we continue professional conversations. In keeping with the idea of Professional Learning Communities, we have instituted Common Plan Time for every grade level to meet weekly with interventionists and plan for individual student needs.
In order to meet all of our staff needs, we have also implemented a tiered program for professional development. We provide three levels of instruction for our staff. The first tier (or level) of instruction is meant to be purely informational and research-based. The second tier (or level) of instruction focuses on using the information that was shared in the first tier (make-and-take style of presentation) to take ideas back to the classroom. The third tier (or level) of instruction is meant as the reflective component. Participants are asked to come with their own examples of using the theory in the classroom so that we can process together as a group and offer suggestions for continual improvement. Participants must participate in the previous tier before moving onto the next tier.