Sunday, October 7, 2012

Teacher In-Service Day

Tomorrow is my school district's annual Teacher In-Service day, which is the one day each school year when we hold information/learning sessions for certified staff members that seem to be priority at the moment. Yes, you read that correctly, our district devotes one whole day each school year to disseminate important information/learning experiences to the certified staff. Our district does offer other grade level and content area specific learning opportunities throughout the school year on an as-needed basis, and it does run a technology academy, however, I believe that more sustained, individualized learning opportunities are needed for our teachers and administrators to optimize student learning.

Our school district has undergone substantial change in the past few months, and this change has brought a renewed vision. Gone are the drill and kill strategies that were our primary focus over the past decade or so as we worked to improve student scores on our state's accountability test, which served as our sole measure of student learning. This renewed vision has also provided me with the autonomy to develop a Teacher In-Service day to meet the specific needs of our school. For the first time in five years as a principal, I feel like our Teacher In-Service day will be the springboard to continued learning for our staff.

Although we will use part of this year's Teacher In-Service day to tie up some loose ends regarding implementation of specific programs, the majority of the day will be focused on giving our certified staff members time....the time they need for collaborating, reflecting, and thinking on how to improve their own learning so they can improve student learning. I will expose our certified staff to the importance of social media and blogging as powerful professional learning tools and encourage them to connect with other educators as ways to improve their practice.

I will never forget the words of Prof. Bill Garner during my doctoral studies at Rutgers University when he told us that, "You need to take the time to read, think, and write." I hope to pass this simple yet profound message on to our certified staff members tomorrow to help them realize the importance of taking time to continue to be the lead learners in their classrooms, so they can optimize learning experiences for all of their students. 

Please share your thoughts on any of the issues I touched on in this post.