Monday, October 21, 2013

The PD Committee

After two PGDTA Professional Development Committee Meetings, it has become clear that we have a great team in place with profound respect for autonomous professionalism among teachers, a desire for mutual accountability, and creative ideas for change.

We have tried to clear much of the administrivia and information-only items from our meetings in order to focus on dialogue and planning. This respects the fact that our committee members are not passive attendees but actual PD leaders in the district. Last year the PD Committee began talking about how their role might shift, including that of the Chair, and how the use of the PD Fund might shift as a result. This year, after two meetings, I think we are ready to describe what that shift might look like. These four items represent the core of a vision, and will give us plenty to mull over for the remaining seven meetings ahead in 2013-14:
  1. Committee: the committee should have more opportunities to lead PD whether this is facilitation, presentation, or organization -- and also share in the promotion and celebration of the PD of others. One way this might happen is to conduct conference participant interviews with the aim to publish short celebrations of learning for other educators and the public.
  2. PD Fund administrator: as PD chair and also in possession of a half-time coordinator's position, this person should be as active as possible on the professional learning side of the equation as the Fund administration duties; while it is already a busy job with pulls in many directions, there is always room to change how it is used. Solid precedents have been set by the past Chairs' involvement in Learning Partners, facilitating teacher inquiry projects, and the work of organizing the Zone Conference.
  3. Fund applicants: we need to adjust our policies and do more to make use of the professional learning that takes place when we send teachers off to conferences. We did not used to have many expectations for what participants did with what they learned -- a very basic paper report was the default. We need to provide more and different opportunities for teachers to share -- not everyone wants to put on a workshop.
  4. The PD Fund: currently, we allocate about 67% of the fund to out-of-district travel, 5% to in-district registration, 19% to the Zone Conference, 8% to special projects, and 1% to other items. We would like to develop strategies so that big-ticket items (conference travel) results in maximum benefit to teachers and their students. This may mean shifting some of the allocation towards more in-district events where more local teachers can access high-quality PD speakers and workshops, and also begin using part of the Fund to promote local talent and build capacity.


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