District Ongoing Professional Development is provided in many different, easily accessible ways to accommodate diverse learning styles and needs. Examples of ongoing professional development activities include:
New Teacher Mentor Program- The NS Teacher Mentor Program fosters an intellectual environment by providing opportunities for dialogue and ultimately increasing student achievement. The Program not only focuses on improving the skills and knowledge of new to district teachers, but also aids in retention of teachers. All new teachers are assigned a mentor that will promote the growth and development of the beginning teacher. Mentor teachers that are selected for new teachers typically have five years of teaching experience, and demonstrate mastery of pedagogy, content and show a commitment to professional learning. The mentor meets with the teacher throughout the year and also provides multiple opportunities for the new teacher to observe veteran teachers during scheduled Community of Practice days.
Professional Learning Communities- A professional learning community (PLC) is a group of educators that meets regularly to share expertise and work collaboratively to improve teaching skills and the academic performance of students. Our district continues to implement grant funded PLCs focusing on standards-based instruction, embedding technology to engage students and assessment literacy. This was developed based upon previous programming which has produced excellent results. Working in PLC's has strengthened culture, created a vehicle for common language, strategies and accountability. The work aligns with the RI Quality PD Standards: Quality teaching is informed by individual, school and district goals to deepen educators content knowledge, provide them with researched based instructional strategies to assist all students in meeting rigorous academic standards.
Foss Science- The multi-year implementation to the Full Option Science System (FOSS) kits aligned to the new NGSS standards is going along well. The FOSS program employs a philosophy of teaching and learning that has guided the development of successful active-learning science curricula bridging research and practice by providing tools and strategies to engage students and teachers in enduring experiences that lead to deeper understanding of the natural and designed worlds. FOSS provides all students with science experiences that are appropriate to students’ cognitive development and prior experiences. It provides a foundation for more advanced understanding of core science ideas which are organized in thoughtfully designed learning progressions and prepares students for life in an increasingly complex scientific and technological world.
Community of Practice- All K-12 ELA and Math teachers will again participate in our Community of Practice – Shared Classroom Initiative. The premise of the initiative is simple; by visiting other classrooms we can gain exposure to varied teaching practices, reflect on our own practices and encourage conversation about the art and craft of teaching. In addition, this initiative will serve as another vehicle to ensure that our curriculum is articulated and aligned K-12.