Thursday, August 29, 2013

Professionals, through and through

"You Play Like You Practice."  

 It's an old saying from sports, and anyone who has played a sport has probably heard the coach say that a few times to inspire hard work during a long string of practices.

So, how do our teachers "practice"?  Most folks, when they think of teacher professional development, think of a couple of in-service days during the school year.  Maybe you even know when they fall in the calendar.  It looks something like this:

Many folks would look at that and not think much of it- and I admit, I wouldn't be impressed either, unless you really know what our teachers are doing.  On Monday this week, Nancy Davis (former Almond Principal and our new Asst. Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction) presented to the Board on the training plan for this fall.  Here is just one part of the plan:

Holy cow!  Take a look at those dates!  Literally, our teachers are engaged in continued professional development on a near continual basis!  Throughout the fall, sometimes several meetings within the same week, LASD teachers gather and hone their craft -- all in the name of improving the student experience.

It's worth pointing out that while the formal professional development days on the calendar are paid events, the iLearn academy is not.  These after-school classes are completely voluntary.  Yet last year we offered more than 80 hours of development courses, and nearly half of our staff attended (attendance ramped up over the year, as word got out how great the courses really are). We expect to build on that trend again this year, and we're already planning a conference- open to educators from all over- for next summer.

If you're interested in the full presentation we saw this week, you can find it here:
(pdf presentation)

Nancy's actual presentation to the board will be posted here, along with the archive of all of our recent board meetings.  (video archive)

I'm incredibly proud of our staff for their hard work and their desire to constantly improve their tradecraft.  It takes amazing dedication to our students to stay committed to this type of training while still ensuring that each child in your classroom is getting the personalized education they deserve.  Well done, LASD teachers!

It's a nice footnote that we are investigating putting these courses online/video so that teachers in other districts can also benefit.  Being leaders in revolutionizing learning isn't just about teaching our own kids- it's about figuring out what works well, and sharing those practices with others.