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Monday, February 2, 2015

Professional Development for North Reading Educators

Each year educators in North Reading spend a great deal of time and effort continuously improving themselves professionally.  Goals are developed at the district, school, and educator level that lead to the exploration of a great many topics relevant to those working in our schools.  Many professionals enroll in graduate courses and attend conferences where the latest trends and best practices are explored.  There are professional development days sponsored by the district, opportunities for educators to attend presentations and workshops, as well as online opportunities for extended learning.

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has developed standards for High Quality Professional Development (HQPD) that North Reading looks to follow:

The ten standards that make up the Massachusetts Standards for Professional Development:
  1. HQPD has clear goals and objectives relevant to desired student outcomes.
  2. HQPD aligns with state, district, school, and/or educator goals or priorities.
  3. HQPD is designed based on the analysis of data relevant to the identified goals, objectives, and audience.
  4. HQPD is assessed to ensure that it is meeting the targeted goals and objectives.
  5. HQPD promotes collaboration among educators to encourage sharing of ideas and working together to achieve the identified goals and objectives.
  6. HQPD advances an educator's ability to apply learnings from the professional development to his/her particular content and/or context.
  7. HQPD models good pedagogical practice and applies knowledge of adult learning theory to engage educators.
  8. HQPD makes use of relevant resources to ensure that the identified goals and objectives are met.
  9. HQPD is taught or facilitated by a professional who is knowledgeable about the identified objectives.
  10. HQPD sessions connect and build upon each other to provide a coherent and useful learning experience for educators.
This year North Reading educators have participated in several exciting opportunities for professional growth.  In the fall many educators took part in a "Fed Ex Day" which invites educators to explore areas of interests in small groups and work on that project throughout the day and then "deliver" a product back to the larger group by the end of the day.  Inspired by the concept explored in Daniel Pink's Drive, the idea stems from Australian software developers who are instructed to work on anything they choose, provided it is not a part of their regular job.  This allows the participants to be creative and explore ideas and resources that they might not have otherwise considered, leading to innovation and the development of exciting new possibilities in the classroom.

Several educators this year are also taking part in an online learning opportunity from the department of education entitled Teaching and Developing an Online High School Course- Fundamentals. According to the course description, this course will empower teachers to build their own online course from start to finish on a learning management system (LMS) through a combination of asynchronous and synchronous elements including independent reading, discussion forums, and webinars.

On February 6, 2015 North Reading educators will participate in a full-day professional development day.  Teachers in grades Kindergarten- 2nd grade will have the opportunity to hear from one of the leading speakers on mathematics in the country, Dr. Andrew Chen.  Middle school educators will hear from Bill Atwood, author of How Did You Get That?  Seven Strategies for Improving Written Responses in Math.  Science educators will explore the new Next Generation Science Standards. Others will choose from presentations from the Middlesex Partnership for Youth on Teen Dating Violence and Underage Substance Abuse or technology workshops offered by our Digital Learning Team and other North Reading educators!

This spring our Digital Learning Team hopes to provide a series of workshops such as "Technology Tuesdays" that would allow participants to attend one or more in a series of professional learning opportunities.  A similar program will be provided for all educators in the areas of Special Education and working with English Language Learners.

In addition, North Reading educators have come together recently to discuss professional development and to lead a committee to improve the opportunities for educators in the district.  This committee will have representatives not only from the teachers and nurses but also from the paraprofessionals, secretaries, administrators and all educators in the district.  Many ideas are also being discussed about offering trainings for parents and students outside of the school day, especially in the areas of technology and digital learning.

More information about professional development in North Reading can be found on the district website under the Assistant Superintendent's page.  Any ideas or suggestions for increased opportunities for growth and development can be shared with me at any time via email at pdaly@north-reading.k12.ma.us or by calling 978-664-9557.