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Superintendent Provides Structure and Time for Staff Development

This KnowledgeBase archive includes content and external links that were accurate and relevant as of September 30, 2019.

A most significant step taken by the district to enhance the capacity of the high school to provide high quality, job-embedded professional development was to insist that teams, rather than individuals, serve as the main units for implementing curriculum, instruction, and assessment. However, forming teams without providing them with opportunities to meet only breeds cynicism.

To find this time, three important criteria (limitations) were identified and adhered to.

    1.    Students would not arrive later or go home earlier than the usual schedule.
    2.    There would be minimal loss of classroom instructional time.
    3.    Additional dollars to support time for teachers to work together is very limited.

With these three criteria in mind, the teachers came up with a solution. They agreed to move the start of their contractual day from 7:45 to 7:30 a.m. on the first school day of each week. Classes, which normally began at 8:05, would be delayed until 8:30. Buses would continue to pick up students at the traditional time, and the school would provide students with a variety of options until the delayed, 8:30 start. Students could go the cafeteria for breakfast; use the library, computer labs, testing center, or tutorial center; meet with their counselors or dean; participate in open gym or open weight room, or simply enjoy some social time with friends. Limited staff supervised students on a rotating basis. Classes would start at 8:30 with 5 minutes being trimmed from each of the five non-lunch periods in the eight-hour day. Teachers would meet in their collaborative teams from 7:30-8:15. This time could not be used for any other purpose.

The superintendent stated, "The most powerful staff development I have ever seen occurs in these weekly meetings. For example, the social studies department decided to explore ideas and strategies for teaching character. Each week, a member of the department presents his/her ideas, strategies, materials, web sites, etc. to colleagues for their consideration. A good idea developed by one teacher can benefit the entire department.

The superintendent further states, "I have worked with dozens of faculties across North America and asked them to brainstorm how they might create strategies for staff development that met these criteria stipulated above. In every instance, within 30 minutes, the faculty has been able to identify alt least eight viable strategies." Finding time for collaboration and training is possible. It is not a question of "know how", it is a question of "want to."

DuFour, Rick. "Superintendents can provide time." Journal of Staff Development. Summer 2000. p. 29.

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