At Park, teachers view their roles as learners and facilitators of learning. They understand that the world in which their students live is much different than when they were students themselves. We live in an information rich, fast-paced society where knowledge and information can be received in the press of a button. Teachers can no longer stand alone in their classrooms and impart knowledge to their students. They need to be a part of a collaborative group of educators who work together to find the most effective methods for helping students to learn. At Park, we have a Professional Development Committee that helps to steer the direction of our learning as a staff. There are several ways in which teachers have opportunities to collaborate and learn from one another.
The Mill Valley School District has dedicated Wednesday afternoons for teacher collaboration and professional development. Every Wednesday, all students in the District are released at 1:45 p.m. The teachers have time to meet in grade level groups or attend a staff meeting devoted to professional development. During these times, teachers are engaged in learning activities such as curriculum planning, viewing professional videos, setting goals for student learning, reviewing student work and assessment results, and sharing teaching ideas. This is an invaluable part of our professional development since it is built in to the school day and driven by teacher and student needs.
District-wide Staff Development Days
There are four full days devoted to staff development per school year. Each school uses these days to focus on whole-school professional development needs. In the past four years, Park focused on Reading Comprehension and Math Number Sense. During Staff Development Days, the staff is engaged in a variety of learning activities similar to the ones described above. In addition, it is an opportunity to build alignment and consistency in our program across the grades.
Lab Classroom Observations
In order to bring the learning to life, many teachers open up their classrooms to their colleagues for feedback and support. Once or twice a month, a group of 3- 5 teachers observe another teacher teaching a lesson in her classroom. The teachers are not there to evaluate the teacher but to learn from her and give advice and support.
In addition to our on-site professional development, teachers are encouraged to take advantage of outside conferences and seminars. Some examples of some programs that teachers have enjoyed are The Summer Reading and Writing Project; Teachers College, Columbia University; The Silicon Valley Math Initiative (SVMI); Bay Area Writing Project; Dublin Unified’s Literacy Learning Collaborative; The Exploratorium’s Inquiry Project; and many others.