One of my passions is professional development. In my school district, we invest significant human and financial resources in professional development for all of our stakeholders. We support our teachers with our district initiatives; our CBA and Act 48 Guidelines include options for teachers to make choices about their professional learning; we conduct monthly lunch and learns for our administrative team; we offer a workshop series for all of our instructional assistants; and we conduct a robust Summer Academy for all employees.
We have a cohort of teachers who attend Content Networking sessions at CLIU 21. (I recently co-presented on these innovative workshops at PASCD. ) We always ask those who attend a learning experience to share with a team, school, or department. That might take the shape of a Summer Academy session, informal sharing during an Act 80 day, or an after-school workshop. Developing our teachers and leaders by providing these opportunities leads to increased expertise among our staff.
In addition to all our our in-district work, we support teachers and leaders in attending local, state, and national workshops and conferences. Many districts are not able to send teachers to various conferences and workshops due to limited resources. I can’t help but wonder if allocating these resources and providing these opportunities leads to increased confidence in some of our teachers. With increased confidence, more teachers appear willing to share what they are doing.
For example, this past summer a team from our middle school attended AMLE in Nashville. The team attended workshops and delivered two small group presentations. This year, a middle school team articulated an interest in developing and offering professional development sessions for its own teachers. Through the leadership of the Assistant Principal, the team developed some sessions and shared their ideas with me. I then packaged the sessions (and added a couple more from various presenters) into a Secondary Professional Development series. Not only did the team take the initiative to develop the sessions, but then they reached out collaboratively for additional insight and support.
I also love the culture of learning and collaborating with these teachers and leaders. Many sessions are being offered by partner teams of teachers, and some of these teams are first-time presenters for our district. Yesterday, I was visiting a school, and a special education teacher and behavior interventionist happened to be working on their presentation related to de-escalating students. They were eager to share their work with me, solicited feedback, and made some changes based on our conversation. This collaborative approach demonstrated their sincere effort to share their best work with their colleagues. Multiple secondary teachers and instructional assistants have participated in these after school sessions. Sessions included Flipped Classroom, Twitteracy, RLOs, Text-Dependent Analysis, etc. How did we create this culture? Did attending a national conference or other learning opportunity have anything to do with this innovative series?
In this blog, which I entitled “Share to Learn,” I am hoping to learn from my readers too! Each post will have a couple questions to consider in the hopes of engaging you in the conversation.
Questions to Consider:
- As leaders, what do we need to do support our teams?
- How does our commitment to professional learning encourage others to share what they know?
- How do collegial relationships support professional learning?
- How do we as leaders keep growing our pockets of leaders?