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Professional Learning

While we recognize that new teachers have unique needs, we also envision a New Teacher Induction program that is integrated into the broader context of professional learning in our district.  Therefore, while there is a discrete program of learning for participating teachers, everything is focused on supporting each of them in integrating into the professional community at their school, so that growth will continue beyond Induction.

Each school in our district has a unique (and constantly developing) format for professional learning, but all schools are committed to a model commonly referred to as Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). Teachers at each school spend several hours each month working in small teams to study the impact of their teaching on student learning and make collective commitments to adjusting their instruction so as to improve learning outcomes.  As new teachers integrate into these teams, the induction program supports their transition by, whenever possible, connecting the work in the Formative Assessment Cycle to the goals and processes of the PLCs. 

 

In addition to the weekly professional learning that happens at each site, teachers in their first year in the district (PT1s) have several other opportunities to learn with their colleagues at the district and site level:

New Employee Workshop (NEW)

This 4-hour workshop is split into 4 half-day sessions that are spread out over the course of the summer before new teachers begin work in August.   Most teachers participate in the first two parts in June, though there are makeup sessions for late hires in early August.  The final day is “Orientation” which occurs on the Friday of the week before all teachers return to work in mid-August.  The 4 different components of the NEW are outlined in very broad strokes here:

                                    Part I – FUHSD Culture, Growth Mindset, Student Engagement

                                    Part II – Curriculum Planning and Professional Collaboration

                                    Part III – District Orientation – Routines, Relationships, Prudent Behavior

                                    Part IV – Site Orientation – Staff Introductions, Logistics and Systems

Academic Language Production (EL Support)

Starting in 2010, every teacher in the district has participated in this full-day training to develop common language and a repertoire of techniques to support all students, especially English Learners, in developing their skills in Academic Language Production.    All new hires come together in September or October to collaborate and learn how our district approaches this key area of student learning.

New Teacher Lunches

Because every site in our district has a unique culture and context, the New Teacher Lunches are developed and implemented in a collaborative effort between a site Assistant Principal and the New Teacher Advisors.  These monthly lunch meetings provide “Just In Time” professional learning on such topics as Parent Communication (Back to School Night), Grading, IEP and Special Ed Collaboration, Student Health and Safety, LGBTQ and other Equity Issues, and other site-specific topics of interest.

Inquiry Round Tables

Although the Cycle of Inquiry is primarily a process conducted by participating teachers with the support of their New Teacher Advisors, each PT has two opportunities each year to convene a group of colleagues to support their learning and advise them on their areas of growth. In January, the PT selects a group of colleagues and invites them to a Round Table lunch.  At this meeting, the PT shares the Focusing Question of the spring Cycle of Inquiry and asks the panel to suggest strategies to support student growth.  The PT then applies the suggestions in the spring and reconvenes the group in May to report on the outcomes.

 

The Skillful Teacher

Most teachers in the second year of Induction (PT2s) participate in the Skillful Teacher course as a comprehensive and rigorous exploration of key teaching skills:

Course Mission and Goals

The mission of this course is to improve teachers’ abilities to apply the knowledge base of teaching in different classroom contexts for the benefit of all students. Specifically, there are two goals that guided the design and organization of the course:

1. Provide second-year teachers with a coherent and challenging professional learning environment to complement their individual Formative Assessment Cycles and help them develop the habits of career-long development and growth.

2. Connect new teachers with veteran colleagues in order to develop strong collaborative relationships that would sustain growth after induction and support strong PLCs at each site.

Course Organization

The course uses the book The Skillful Teacher as the main source of new ideas and information. Although the 500-page book provides a comprehensive look at our profession, the course will focus upon only a few of the key chapters.  We will begin with the “Expectations” chapter that builds on Carol Dweck’s work around creating a “Growth Mindset.”  This initial focus will help teachers answer this essential question:

  • What teacher beliefs and actions lead us to best serve ALL of our students?

Once this foundation around beliefs and expectations is established, we will progress through the year, organizing our work around a series of classroom experiments, lunch discussions, and district-wide meetings where we continually ask and answer these essential questions:

  • What do we want students to know and be able to do?
  • How will we know if they know and can do it?
  • What do skillful teachers do to maximize the opportunity for every student to learn it?
  • What will we do when students don’t meet our standards? What will we do if they do?

Course Calendar

Below are the approximate dates of the District-Wide Seminars.  As mentioned above, in between each seminar, teachers at each site meet for lunch to plan and then reflect on their Cycles of Inquiry.  Some teachers pick one area of focus and do continuous Cycles throughout the year, while other teachers pick a new topic each time.  The time between Day 5 in January and Day 6 in May is dedicated entirely to applications, so each site team decides upon a site-specific calendar for meetings to plan and reflect.

Late May – Day 1 – Orientation (2 hours after school)

August – Day 2 – Student Motivation

Sept/Oct – Day 3 – Relationships and Motivation

November – Day 4 – Objectives and Making Thinking Visible

January – Day 5 – Clarity, Equity, and Learning Experiences

Late May – Day 6 – Reflection (2 hours after school)