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Professional Development Framework

Rationale

Educational organizations are complex systems embedded in and charged to serve a complex, rapidly-changing society. Our challenge is to prepare students for the future. To do that most effectively, we continually search for new and better ways to increase student learning and achievement.

Professional DevelopmentTo meet this challenge of improving student learning, innovative instructional strategies, tools and curriculum need our investigation and study. Research in the areas of teaching, learning, child development and the brain have implications that help us to better understand and prepare our students. Increased expectations that are presented by parents, students and the community at-large must be examined and understood. Educational organizations need to be able to respond to these and other changes. They cannot effectively do so without providing a rich environment that encourages and supports professional growth and a community of learners.

The professional growth process is the primary vehicle through which educational changes are implemented. Organizational growth and individual growth are its two major components, both of which must be pursued aggressively and simultaneously. Each member of the educational community has a responsibility for individual and organizational growth, as does the educational organization. It is the responsibility of each member, the responsibility of the organization and the interaction between the two that is the focus of the district's professional growth process.

Belief Statements

The professional growth process must

  1. enhance student learning and performance by relating directly to learner goals and expectations.
  2. recognize that all staff members have a responsibility to keep abreast of research, expand their knowledge base and seek out new strategies to improve their performance.
  3. be supported by the district to ensure that all staff receive the training necessary to carry out their job responsibilities effectively.
  4. recognize that a supportive climate, high expectations and a commitment to lifelong learning are essential.
  5. recognize that staff members have different needs in various stages of their careers.
  6. recognize each school and classroom as the units of change while supporting district goals.
  7. capitalize on the expertise that resides within the school district by encouraging action research, reflective practice, collaboration and shared responsibility.
  8. support curriculum, instruction and assessment.
  9. prepare educators for changing roles and the growing diversity of the student population.
  10. be responsive to change.

Professional Growth Model

  1. The individual professional staff member

    Recognizing the classroom as the place where change needs to happen in order for student learning and achievement to be affected:

    Individual staff members will design and implement an individualized professional growth plan. The plan should reflect:
    • a focus on student learning and achievement
    • an ongoing process for growth
    • collegial interaction
    • an integration of all components including the district graduate credit program, supervision/peer review, the Professional Growth Program (PGP), reflective practice and action research
    • a means of documenting and sharing

  2. The building

    Recognizing the building as the key unit for educational change, each building must have a goal-driven, comprehensive development plan based on the building's analysis of its own needs and integrated with district goals.

    The plan should reflect:
    • an inclusive shared decision-making process to design, deliver and evaluate the program
    • an integration of individual, team, building and district goals
  3. The district

    Recognizing that for individuals and individual buildings to sustain growth, district action needs to establish conditions for continuous and long-term improvement.

    These conditions include:
    • a clear articulation of purpose, belief and mission
    • a clear communication of the goals of the strategic plan
    • a commitment of the necessary resources including money, staff support and leadership training
    • a recognition and support of the needs of subgroups within buildings and across the district (grade level, specialists, special education)

The Individual Professional Development Plan

  1. Each professional staff member should develop a written ongoing plan for professional development and share the plan with other professionals.
  2. The individual plan is primarily a tool for professionals to reflect upon their performance and plan for growth. The plan should be meaningful to the individual by whom it is written but should also be understandable to colleagues and supervisors.
  3. The plan should address these questions:
    • What is it you plan to do?
    • How and when will you do it?
    • How and with whom will you share this plan?
    • How will you know when the goal has been reached?
      The plan's content should be personalized to the individual professional.
  4. The plan should include short-term and long-term goals and should reflect the continuous rather than sporadic ("every other year") growth of the individual. Professional development should be pursued on an ongoing basis. It is hoped that the plan will encourage innovation and risk-taking on the part of the professional staff members. To be realistic, it is understood that not all goals will be met and that the plan should be revised as needed.
  5. It is expected that professionals will be provided adequate time and training to develop individual plans. It is not the intention of the district that this type of reflective practice should be an additional demand upon the scarce time resources of staff members.
  6. The individual plan by definition should address the development needs of the individual. However, there needs to be a balance between purely personal development and development directed toward team building and district goals. The individual plan should reflect a synthesis of personal, building and district goals.
  7. In addition to charting new and unique development activities, the individual plan should incorporate those development activities which already exist and are available to all staff. The plan may include, for example, college courses and advanced degrees (lane changes), conferences and workshops (including PGP), recertification activities (renewal units) and building or department level activities. It is hoped that the individual plan will provide greater coherency in these and other activities. Plans involving collaboration are encouraged.

The Building Professional Development Plan

  1. Each building should develop a written goal-driven comprehensive plan for the professional development of its staff which will be shared with District Office staff as they facilitate the communication and coordination of common goals.
  2. Each building staff should identify a group who will be responsible for developing the written plan. This building leadership team should reflect diversity of the school staff and be representative of all constituencies in the school.
  3. The written plan should be based on the building's analysis of its own needs and integrated with the district goals.
  4. The plan should address these questions:
    • What is it we (the building's staff) want to do?
    • How and when will we do it?
    • How will we know when we have reached our goal?
  5. The plan's form and content should be personalized to the building staff. The plan should include short and long-term goals and reflect the continuous growth of the building staff. The plan should integrate individual, building and district goals.
  6. The building plan should reflect the need for a variety of professional growth activities based on teacher career stages and preferred learning styles.
  7. The District Office should provide resources to help buildings with their professional development plan. If requested, the District Office staff should be available to help buildings develop their plans, conduct needs assessment, coordinate resources and provide help in planning and implementing professional development activities.
  8. The building should evaluate the effectiveness of its professional development plan and report its progress annually. The report should include key outcomes, activities, expenditures and evaluation results.
  9. The building professional growth plan should be revised on an ongoing basis as individual, building and district needs change and outcomes are met.

Considerations for Planning Building/Program Level Professional Growth

  • Form a working committee
  • Conduct a needs analysis
  • Develop goals or set objectives
  • Design a plan to meet the goals
  • Implement the plan
  • Assess or evaluate the plan

The District Professional Development Plan

  1. The district should develop an ongoing professional development plan and share it with the professional staff. The plan should be reviewed annually and revised as needed. The focus for professional growth at the district level should come from Board of Education goals, the curriculum cycle and the instructional strategies needed to implement and assess the curriculum. Other initiatives may come from state mandates.
  2. Leadership development is a primary responsibility of the district and should be incorporated as part of the district plan.
  3. The district should seek additional resources to support the professional growth process.
  4. The district must maintain and extend its collaborative efforts with institutions of higher learning. This collaboration should include but not be limited to the following:
    • Master's programs and graduate courses taught collaboratively by college and district staff.
    • Credits for action research.
    • Opportunities for collegial interaction and intellectual stimulation.
  5. In recognizing that induction into the teaching professional is a unique period, quite possibly the most difficult phase of a teaching career and recognizing that beginning teachers come into the profession with many advantages that, if nurtured, can add positively to a school, the district should establish a mentoring program.
  6. The district should explore incentives to encourage experienced staff to continue professional growth by mini-sabbaticals and action research grants.
  7. The district should explore incentives such as stipends for attending workshops outside the contract day or conducting action research for staff members who have reached the MA+60 level.
  8. The district should provide communication about professional growth opportunities both within and outside the school district.
  9. The district should establish and support a teacher communication network to provide organized communication between teachers (K-12, specialists and special education), thus creating a vehicle that would systematically aid in the development and coordination of curricular implementation, instruction and restructuring.
  10. The district should provide assistance to buildings in the development and implementation of their professional growth plans. This would include but not be limited to the following:
    • Clear articulation and timely communications of directives from the state and district goals/needs established by curriculum committees.
    • Assistance in planning inservices.
  11. The district must maintain a professional development committee which will oversee professional development by responding to legislation and district needs. An example of such a committee is the Peer Review Committee.

 

Definitions

Staff:
All certified professionals within the district (for purpose of this document).
Organizational Development:
Organizational development is the process undertaken by an organization, or part of an organization, to define and meet changing self-improvement objectives, while making it possible for the individuals in the organization to meet their personal and professional objectives.
Action Research:

Action research provides a model for staff to improve their professional skills individually or collaboratively by following this process:

  1. Problem analysis
  2. Data collection
  3. Data analysis and conceptualization
  4. Planning of an action program
  5. Implementation of this action program
  6. Evaluation
Mini-sabbatical:
A leave of absence for one to four weeks to conduct action research
Mentor:
An experienced teacher who guides a less experienced teacher by providing support, feedback and an opportunity for dialogue.





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