School District’s Professional Development Plan Goes to State

The teachers will be going back to school, even though at times it will be in their own classrooms.

The Master Plan Subcommittee of the School Administrative Unit (SAU) 10 Professional Development Committee presented its updated Master Plan for professional development at the March 17 School Board meeting. The plan was unanimously approved by the board.

Serena Levine, Director of Supplemental Services, presented the report along with Maura Clinton-Jones of Grinnell Elementary School and Lisa Long, assistant principal at South Range Elementary School.

Cara Kuehl, Director of Federal Projects, was also on the subcommittee but unable to attend.

Levine explained that the state Department of Education (DOE) requires the district to submit a new Professional Development Plan every five years. The process applies to both professional staff and paraprofessionals, she said. The group has been meeting monthly since November 2013.

In the last update of the master plan, there were “huge changes” on the state level and it took a long time to put it together, Levine said. The most recent update was relatively smooth, taking only 1 1/2 years, she said.

“We reviewed the pros and cons of what we had, researched other school districts and went over the state and national standards,” she said.

The group attended a state workshop that was “really cool,” according to Levine. It was facilitated by Learning Forward, a group that deals with national standards for professional development. They also attended a Webinar that clarified the state expectations.

Long took the microphone to explain that the committee came up with three distinct goals:

• To align with the national standards;

• To look at the current plan and make improvements; and

• To streamline the process for professional development approval. To the last Long said, “Do we need to have multiple forms? Do we need multiple signatures?”

Long said part of the update will be to use the term “professional learning” and to encourage the educators to take an active role in their development. “We want to make it their goal to learn, not to ‘feed it’ to them,” Long said.

Long also spoke to the concept of “job-embedded” professional development, which will be a focus in the new plan.

“You used to take a day off and go to a workshop,” she said. “You used to not be able to get professional development ‘hours’ for things you did during the regular school day.”

But, Long said, the Derry teachers get some of their best inspiration and learning from their peers.

School Board chairman Dan McKenna wondered how to track the “job-embedded” learning. “How do you quantify it?” he asked.

“It is hard to quantify,” Levine said, and hard to compare with formal education such as a master’s-level class.

“It depends,” Long said. “It’s collaborative. You can use the hours you meet as a team, with an ‘artifact’ from your job-embedded training.”

Other changes include simplifying the timeline and process, more flexibility in writing goals, and more flexibility between Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and the portfolio.

“We do have a hard copy with us, and it’s only 70 pages,” Long said.

The board unanimously approved the plan, which will now go to the state DOE.