Choosing to Learn – Staff PD

There have been a few discussions going on about staff PD and the need to change things and make them more relevant for teachers. So, I figured I’d share a few things that our staff decided to do to enhance our PD, a few things that we’ve “made our own” from division directives and how we have decided to tackle traditional PD.

Because the staff at the school I work at is a newly formed staff – two buildings a K – 6 and a 7 – 12 came together in May of this year – we decided at the outset of this year to change our PD and staff meeting processes.

1. We began the year with having a staff meeting once a month – 2 1/2 hours long – which had both PD and traditional agenda items. This was a carry-over from previous administrators and we decided to see how it worked. Because we were going to become one staff fairly quickly (that’s a whole other story!), we decided to rotate the meetings from school to school. Although this helped to build staff relations, it gave use an idea #1 – move your meetings to different locations as it helps people to get to see the school. We have had our meetings in the Arts room, the IA Room, the new conference room, the foyer of our new school, the computer room and various classrooms. It allows us to take time to see what is going on around the school.

2. In order to share the responsibility of the meetings, pairs of teachers chaired the meetings. Agendas were posted ahead of time on our school wiki where people added items. Because our meetings were on Monday afternoon, we closed the agendas, most of the time, on Saturday. Most teachers would print them off but a few began to bring their laptops to add directly to the wiki so that notes were instantaneous. It began to change how teachers saw their role in the meetings. idea #2 – change the hierarchy of meetings – share.

3. PD became the focus meetings – teachers began to want to spend more time focusing on PD that was directly related to what we were doing in the classroom. We began to alter a PD into a) partner share time. Teachers would pair up with another teacher, highschool teachers with elementary teachers, and discuss one of the PD topics. We focused on DI, RTI2 and UbD. Teachers were sharing ideas from their perspective areas and then sharing it at the meeting. b) PLC time – groups were focusing on Math improvement or Reading Comprehension. #3 – focus PLC topics and relate them to what is going on in classrooms. Collect data to see if initiatives are having an impact.

4. Meetingtrivia was shared via the agenda memo – anything that was urgent was noted and we would begin our meeting with these – things like our STF information – it was a contract year – NETA information – our school is hosting the teacher convention next year – Moving – our schools moved from being two school to one the 21st of April and we opened as one school on May 2nd.  #4 protect time for teachers to work together.

5. Staff wanted more time for PD – we began to move all meetingtrivia to a morning meeting where we had breakfast and protect our time for PD. #5 – allow staff to have a say in how these types of things work.

6. Traditional PD conferences were shared during PD time with teachers creating a short Prezi or handout – this was posted before the meeting and then experiences were shared – a Q&A was done with teachers. #6 – expect that teachers will share what they are doing – it does become the norm.

7. Staff began to use Evernote and our school wiki to share information and ideas/discuss topics.

#7 – if possible, introduce tools to help people build capacity and collaborate.

8. School Improvement Days – these days were used to examine the division rubric which then led to topic areas for improvement. So, in the upcoming year our staff will be focusing on First Nations, Metis and Inuit Ways of Knowing and Understanding & Building a School Culture – we hope to use ideas from both to help shape our new school culture and build a stronger school community. #8 – plan for success and focus on specifics.

So as a staff, we were able to do a great deal of work in our first year together, considering that we were only together for 2 months as a whole school. We have a state-of-the-art school and wish to build a school community and school culture focused on developing the whole child, learning from our past, living in the present and dreaming of the future.

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