Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Get Your Professional Development From the People in the Trenches

I remember as a teacher, there were times that the term “professional development” made me cringe.  The question I found myself asking a lot of times was, “Am I going to be able to use what I learn in the classroom?” Now as an administrator I have realized that, at times, professional development gets a bad rap.  At no time was that more apparent than Monday at NLHS.

We had a district Waiver Day for teachers on Monday, October 14th.  For those that don’t know, on Waiver Days the students do not have school and the teachers receive professional development to improve their craft.  School districts approach Waiver Days in different ways.  Some districts have professional development opportunities for all of the district employees, while some districts have the buildings design their own professional development.  The great thing about New Lexington, is that we do a little of both.  On Monday, the high school staff was able to see the power of both types.

Professional development sessions were available to the district employees such as Assessment Literacy and Project Based Learning.  During the Assessment Literacy training, the staff was able to learn more about creating assessments based on the content and depth of knowledge gained by the students during the class.   This way, assessments are developed based on what and how the students learned the material in class.  The Project Based Learning session gave staff insight on different types of projects that can be incorporated into the classroom setting to assist students in “learning by doing.”

Many of the high school staff participated in other sessions that were facilitated by the high school staff.  Some of the breakout sessions included:
  • ·      Differentiation methods for higher level students;
  • ·      Methods of collecting data and using assessment data;
  • ·      Using social media effectively in the classroom;
  • ·      Using Blogs to communicate your message;
  • ·      Creating effective learning matrices;
  • ·      Using effective FIP in the classroom;
  • ·      Using technology effectively & efficiently in the classroom;
  • ·      Effective methods of evidence to use for the OTES (Ohio Teacher Evaluation System);
  • ·      FIP you can use immediately in your classroom. 

These sessions were extremely beneficial for the entire staff.  Great conversations were had during these sessions.  At times, the presenters learned just as much as the audience.  Many different effective teaching and learning strategies were shared throughout the day.  Staff members received on the job training and instant feedback during the sessions. 

The best part of the day was the fact that the high school staff provided their own professional development.  There are few things that are more powerful than a group of people growing together and using their own methods to do it.  It sends a powerful message when staff members will volunteer their skills to help other members of the staff excel at their positions.  As a Principal, I could not have been prouder of my staff and their desire to help each other grow.

Sometimes being a Principal is like professional development, it gets a bad rap.  One of the best parts of my position is the fact that I get to see great people teach everyday.  I witness a variety of teaching methods, teaching styles, and routines that other staff members don’t have the chance to experience.  Professional development days allow the staff to learn from each other and see the same great teaching methods I get to experience on a daily basis.  If you are an administrator and you don’t have professional development days that are lead by your staff, you’re missing out on a great educational opportunity for your staff and your students.  Allow your staff to share their expertise so we can change the thought process behind professional development.

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