The primary goal of North Smithfield professional development programming is to enhance the quality of teaching and leadership in order to improve student achievement. Local and grant funded activities support our system and structures of professional development. In order to target the needs of the school district, a comprehensive needs assessment is conducted to determine goals, develop programs and allocate resources. The Professional Development Advisory Committee plays an important role in identifying the district needs. The Professional Development Advisory Committee (PDAC) is a volunteer team of K-12 stakeholders (teachers, administrators and parents) that meets quarterly to help develop and refine the district’s professional development plan. The team has worked over the years to revamp the system and structure of professional development which has received positive feedback. A variety of data is collected and analyzed to determine the needs of the district. Demographic data includes highly qualified teacher data for core academic subjects as well as teacher and principal attrition rates. Student performance data is also analyzed and areas of strength and need for improvement are identified. Finally, qualitative data is reviewed and analyzed. Teachers fill out surveys/feedback forms after each professional development day/activity rating how the concepts were applicable to their discipline,the effectiveness of the workshop/activity and preferences/recommendations for future professional development activities. This data is compiled and a second survey (needs assessment) is developed based on previous survey feedback, the PDAC then identifies district priorities. Professional learning activities are developed based on the breadth of information compiled meeting the prioritized needs that will have the greatest impact on student learning.
This past year approximately fifty different sessions were offered to teachers and administrators. B
In addition to workshop sessions, other professional learning activities included the ongoing “Community of Practice” initiative, implementation of “Professional Learning Communities” and implementation of the NGSS science standards.
The premise of the grant-funded Community of Practice initiative is simple; by visiting other classrooms within our district teachers gain exposure to varied teaching practices, reflect on current practices and encourage conversation about the art and craft of teaching. In addition, this initiative will serves as another vehicle to ensure that the curriculum is articulated and aligned K -12. Teachers shared experiences with curriculum, identified successful strategies as well as barriers to implementation.
A professional learning community, or PLC, is a group of educators that meets regularly, shares expertise, and works collaboratively to improve teaching skills and the academic performance of students. We have implemented three 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.
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.
This summer the district will be offering a full day professional development workshop titled Tools for Classroom-Ready Techniques for Increasing Student Achievement. Aligned with McRel’s Classroom Instruction That Works strategies and framework, this workshop will deliver a learning, working and planning session. The workshop will help participants raise student achievement in the classroom by focusing on crafting dynamic learning activities supported by the best research on effective instruction. The workshop will be held at North Smithfield Middle on July 30, 2018 from 8:30-2:30.
The time, energy and effort of the Professional Development Advisory committee members, workshop presenters and PLC facilitators is greatly appreciated. Each year the PD programming becomes more refined due to the efforts of faculty, staff and administrators.
Clare Arnold, Assistant Superintendent