PRINCIPLES OF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Professional development efforts are rooted in the belief that all personnel can improve their performance, people make organizations effective, and planned programs are most effective. The following principles support professional development opportunities in the Weston Public Schools.
1. All certified personnel are provided opportunities for professional development.
2. The district plan is clearly related to improving instruction.
3. The district develops a comprehensive plan for professional development and it relates to and supports school improvement plans and curriculum renewal.
4. Teachers are required to participate in specific programs or sessions related to but not limited to his or her job description or assignment.
5. Professional development is offered throughout the school year.
6. Professional development allows for continuity of training experiences.
7. Personnel has opportunities to serve as planners, designers, presenters, and evaluators.
8. Personnel, programs, materials, and other resources are shared among various schools providing training.
9. Teachers are involved in the planning and participation of professional development activities.
10. Professional development activities are continually monitored and evaluated.
11. Funds for professional development are annually budgeted.
Professional Development in Weston fosters growth and improves the skills, knowledge and abilities of educators to improve student learning.
• Life long learning depends on continual growth in effective problem solving, which leads to informed decision-making.
• Learning is best accomplished through collaboration and collegiality, and recognizes diversity in the community.
• The needs of the individual are as important as building and district needs.
• Leadership can come from every member of the community.
• Risk-taking is necessary in the growth process and should be encouraged.
• To provide focused, systematic, and sustained professional development for the improvement of student learning. Professional development programs will be consistent with current research and best instructional practices.
• To establish clearly defined performance standards for each content area, course, and grade level.
• To utilize data to drive instruction. School and grade level data will drive curriculum revision. Individual student data will be used to design instruction to meet each student’s needs.
• Professional Development programs are challenging, job-embedded, and thought provoking.
• Professional Development programs are data and research-based.
• Professional Development programs provide opportunities for staff to learn from their peers.
• Professional Development plans include programs presented by in-house staff.
• Professional Development is differentiated by teachers’ and school leaders’ level of experience and professional growth needs.
• Professional Development provides opportunities for reflection and practice, and occurs over time.
• Professional Development programs utilize multiple instructional practices to address the preferences and needs of adult learners.
• Teachers and leaders jointly design the school’s Professional Development program.
• Professional Development provides both on-site and off-site opportunities for learning.
• Professional Development programs include opportunities for (and are purposefully designed for) within group discourse (teacher to teacher; principal to principal; teachers within a content area) and across group discourse (teachers and administrators; across content areas; guidance counselors and teachers).
• Teachers and school leaders play an active role in self-identifying the Professional Development they need to support them in meeting their evaluation goals and job responsibilities.
• Professional Development provides substantial opportunities to earn CEU’s to maintain certification requirements.
• Professional Development is focused on building the capacity of teachers to improve student learning (individually, in small group, and as members of a school community).
• Professional Development options are based on teacher growth needs.
• Professional Development directly supports teacher goals, which are linked to school goals.
• Professional Development reflects the accountability system built into the school and district system, i.e. is job-embedded and reflects the expectations for accomplished practice.
• Professional Development is purposefully linked to the Common Core of Teaching or the Standards for School Leaders.
• Professional Development includes programs that showcase best instructional and leadership practices.
THE ORGANIZATION OF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Professional development activities in the Weston Public Schools provide focused, systematic, and sustained professional development for the improvement of student learning. The design and delivery of professional development activities occur through three systems: district-level, school-based, and individualized.
The overall focus and purpose of all staff development is to lead to improved student learning. Professional development supports teachers in implementing both new and existing curriculum.
Weston has four contracted Professional Development days and five delayed openings in each school year as well as frequent and ongoing opportunities for professional growth throughout the year in workshops and programs offered during and after school. Plans are developed at the building team and district steering committee levels and participation is required for all staff on district days.
Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) are offered for all PD activities in the district during the school year. The district provides CEU equivalents for outside activities not offering CEU’s provided required documentation is given to the building team following attendance.
The professional growth component of the district supervision evaluation plan provides for and requires a structured plan for professional growth for every teacher under the supervision of the school principal.
Forms for individual conferences or other professional development activities are completed and submitted to the building PD team for approval, reimbursement, and substitute coverage.
DISTRICT-LEVEL PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
All professional development initiatives have a multi-year focus that supports district goals. Professional development programs are consistent with current research and best instructional practices. There is a clear link that ties professional development to pedagogy and student achievement.
As each curriculum/instructional program is renewed through the Weston Curriculum Cycle, specific professional development activities will be planned to foster support for the revised curriculum. General professional growth needs for the recently revised PK-12 curriculum program are identified for the improvement of instructional delivery.
SCHOOL-BASED PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
The school-based delivery system for professional development provides an important function in professional growth experiences for staff members. As part of a school-based delivery system for professional development, individuals, school-based teams, and a school’s faculty as a whole works together to implement a shared vision for the school. School-based professional development when implemented performs several essential functions:
• Provides a consistent approach for the professional growth of staff.
• Focuses professional development to support the instructional vision of the district and school.
• Enables teachers as learners to be role models for the development of lifelong learning for their students.
• Focuses on the implementation of long-range district initiatives and goals while concurrently addressing short-term school-based needs.
• Increases sensitivity to individual stages and phases of career development of the staff and diversity in the culture of the school.
• Promotes professional growth in a supportive school climate that fosters trust, open communication, and collegial support for changes in instructional practices.
• Focuses on helping staff members improve job performance in the workplace.
• Promotes the “learning by doing” component of the professional development program.
INDIVIDUAL PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Individual professional development (when a teacher or leadership staff member prepares for and pursues self-directed and individual written objectives for professional development) promotes professional growth specific to the individual’s interests and needs within the context of the organization and his or her specific job description or assignment.
• Provides staff members with professional growth opportunities appropriate to personal interests, strengths, and personal goals in the context of the organization.
• Encourages staff members to use performance evaluation feedback as an assessment for planning personalized professional growth.
• Involves staff members in planning professional development relevant to a specific job description.
• Encourages lifelong learning and professional growth for all staff members.
• Provides professional development opportunities that are appropriate to individuals or small groups of staff members.
GUIDELINES FOR PROGRAM IMPLEMENTATION
The Weston Public Schools comprehensive professional development program requires effective management and coordination. Personnel at both the school and district levels are charged with the responsibility of overseeing implementation of the program to assure that the goals and objectives are met and that all staff is fully informed of every aspect of the program.
The Weston Board of Education has charged the Assistant Superintendent of Schools in conjunction with the District Professional Development Steering Committee the responsibility of coordinating and supervising the professional development program.
The Steering Committee will meet a minimum of four times a school year; subgroups of the general council will meet independently and as often as required to successfully carry out the following essential functions.
• Coordinates district-level, building-level, and individual professional development activities as appropriate;
• Identifies and utilizes human resources/talent from in-district staff members as well as out-of-district consultants;
• Communicates with school and district personnel regarding implementation of professional development activities;
• Coordinates and links the professional development program with out-of-district programs and resources;
• Coordinates and links the professional development program with the community’s efforts to improve the schools;
• Provides for quality control of professional development activities through an ongoing evaluation process focusing on goals and objectives of the program;
• Develops evaluation design and methodology for professional development activities.
The responsibilities of the Individual Building Professional Development Committees are as follows:
• Identify and address the priority needs of the school by each building administrator, School Improvement Team, and staff as they relate to professional development and district goals.
• Investigate and plan for Professional Development Programs that address each building’s needs either singly or in collaboration with other buildings that have similar identified needs to support district goals.
• Evaluate and either approve or disapprove staff members’ requests to attend individual conferences.
• Assess the impact of professional development activities on student learning.
• Evaluate and determine the level of funding for individual conferences.
• Assess the impact of professional development activities on student learning.