Professional Development/ Manchester Academic Standards
March 31, 2014
Why Build a Professional Development Network in Manchester?
“Whatever the term, the purpose is the same — to improve learning for educators and students” (Mizell, 2010). Teachers, staff and principals must engage in professional learning to keep skills sharp, learn new methods, expand on innovative ideas, and deepen the robust experience of reflection. It is no different in Manchester where it appears professional development can be hard to come by, especially if one reviews the recent report within the Curriculum Audit of the Manchester School District (International Curriculum Management Audit Center, 2013). If the school district is to move forward, and it is widely agreed that it must, then a professional development network is essential and the need is immediate.
To fully embrace the value of professional learning the learning organization must first delineate between the meanings of professional learning and certification. For educators, specifically teachers and principals, professional learning is the intentional act of improving and expanding one’s own knowledge base and skill set to effectively improve student learning. Certification, or licensure, is the legal standard that must be obtained and retained in order to engage in professional teaching. For many districts, Manchester included, one has gone hand in hand with the other resulting in professionals counting the number of hours they have spent in formal workshops or conferences with the hopes of amassing the required number of hours for licensure. Other than individual instances, the quality of the professional learning experiences, the change in instructional or leadership practice, and its affect on the improvement of student achievement is often forgotten or ignored.
So, let’s propose a district-wide network of professional sharing instead. What if we placed a higher value on the learning experiences and their subsequent effect on student learning? What of we spent our valuable time sharing our own best practices with each other, implementing them within our classrooms and schools, and then gather again to discuss the results we have seen? What if the evidence of the quality of your professional learning was given more attention than the quantity of your hours spent in learning? We will have the opportunity to talk about this and much more in the coming months as we will be assembling the Professional Development Master Plan committee to help write and submit a new plan by 2016. We will be seeking innovative and creative thinkers with a passion for professional development to help staff this team and Polly Golden will be reaching out shortly.
In the meantime, our goal is to build a district-wide sharing network to provide professional learning for all staff. We have very talented people in our school district who wish to share their work and just as many talented people who wish to learn about it. We have opportunities for workshops, data dives, book studies, lectures, peer classroom visits, and coming this August, New Teacher Orientation and peer mentors. Everything listed comes at no cost to our educators other than time and interest. We are committed to helping build this learning network and look forward to opening it in early September.
Manchester Academic Standards
Dr. Sandra Stotsky visited our high school ELA standards developers on March 21 and provided some healthy and well-received feedback for our teacher development team. She framed the work of the teachers as “elegant” and believes we are working along the right path to high standards for all students. This Friday two senior associates from The National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment located in Dover, NH will be briefed on our work to date and provide their feedback on our math standards K-12. They have volunteered to be a part of this work from a coaching perspective and see the benefits of a school district undertaking such a task.
We would like to hear from you about our standards development. If you have not been able to share your feedback, please go to http://curriculum.mansd.org/resource-documents/standards-development and scroll down to find grade level subject areas. Please send your feedback and we will be certain it reaches the appropriate grade level teams.
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