Commitment to Lifelong Learning
Continued learning has always been important in our profession, and in every profession, but progressively more in education recently. The rapid growth of the information technology industry as well as the change from an industrial economy to a knowledge economy has caused rapid change and transformation from what we understood as traditional public education practices to very innovative practices. This means teachers, counselors, and school administrators have to learn at a rapid rate. At EPSD our staff has wholly embraced the belief that we are all lifelong learners, teachers, and leaders. Over the last year, 70% of our staff members have participated in our in-house professional learning book studies courses and classes, and 59% participated in more than one class.
I’m blogging to share the impressive amount of learning our staff has been doing in just the first 20 days of school.
Professional Learning Communities
This year, one of our major improvement strategies is to improve the impact of our professional learning communities (PLC’s) through developing leadership capacity in our district. We have a team of district leaders that came in for a leadership retreat to learn together about promising leadership practices and how to increase the impact of the PLC team they lead. We adopted PLC’s as a promising practice in our district a decade ago, so what does that word impact mean?
In the busy life of an educator when there are so many decisions to be made, problems to solve, and emotions to support, the day can fill up quickly. It is easy to lose focus. High impact PLC’s establish the purpose of the team is to maximize impact on student learning and believe in the collective efficacy of the team. They use evidence to make impactful decisions using formative evaluation of student work. Our district leaders are studying together, learning from each other, and keeping the focus on evidence for student learning. Paul Bloomberg and Barb Pitchford offer great a great model for high impact PLC teams combining formative assessment and collective inquiry in the book Leading Impact Teams.
Building Leadership Capacity
A team of middle and high school teachers are participating in professional learning through TeachUnited to increase their own knowledge and capacity in providing personalized and blended learning opportunities for students. Our vision for the future is to provide personalized learning for students. This group of teachers developing their own personal knowledge and skills will enable them to lead and support other teachers in their PLC and school.
Instructional Coaching Personalizes Professional Learning
A second of our major improvement strategies is to personalize professional learning for teachers based on talent and need and make professional learning job-embedded. We have made a commitment in our district to increase instructional coaching opportunities. It brings me so much pleasure to write that we have 4 instructional coaches in our small district bringing personalized learning to our staff every day. They bring support to teachers for what is needed now to improve student learning in the classroom.