Professional Development Guiding Principles

   Professional development in the Amherst Pelham Regional School District is designed to continuously improve student learning. Our professional development builds a professional learning community and sustains a model of all teachers and staff as lifelong learners to promote professional and personal growth. It fosters the belief that the primary responsibility of public education is to prepare our youth for active and productive participation in our society and the world. Understanding that schools are essential to laying the foundation of society and to the elimination of oppression and injustice, the Amherst Pelham Regional Schools affirm their commitment to becoming a multicultural school system and establish 6 guiding principles for professional development in our district.

Professional development that improves the learning of all students is:

  1. Results-oriented and transformative:
    • stimulates and supports site-based initiatives, district wide goals and our organizational vision
    • reaches needs for individual, collegial, and district-wide growth and improvement
    • maintains key emphasis on growth throughout career development
    • enhances leadership capacity within the school system
    • enables all faculty to conceive desired results, i.e. goals, mission, vision, know the current assessment data, and access professional growth to implement the plan
    • provides follow-up necessary to determine participant practice and innovation, impact on student learning, and organizational effectiveness in order to guide ongoing professional development planning and goal setting
    • promotes shared responsibility for contributing to the collective knowledge of professional practice
  2. Collaborative and collegial:
    • respects teachers as professionals, researchers and adult learners
    • recognizes, values, and uses expertise of staff to support learning from each other
    • supports teachers in identifying a problem and developing the solution through a collaborative inquiry process
    • cultivates focused, ongoing learning built on collaboration, implementation, and reflection
    • offers intellectual, social and affective engagement in an array of teaching and learning concepts
    • develops common language around best educational practices for collegial dialogue within and across disciplines
    • deprivatizes practice by moving away from teaching in isolation
    • incorporates on-site options such as coaching, mentoring, online learning and lesson study that encourage interaction and sharing among participants
    • fosters collaborative relationships to support risk-taking and the application of instructional innovations
  3. Closely connects current theory to practice:
    • enables teachers to reflect critically on their practice and develop new knowledge and world views including those about pedagogy, content, and their students as learners
    • supports exploration, construction and application of new instructional knowledge and skills
    • offers opportunity to explore, question, and debate current practices in order to integrate new ideas into classroom practice
    • involves modeling of exemplary practice and embedded professional learning
    • fosters practice that is culturally relevant to experiences and skills of students’ homes, cultures, and community
    • links practice with research and theory underlying the knowledge and skills learned
    • utilizes brain-based learning research
    • supports team or school-based initiatives that are close to the day-to-day work of teaching
    • promotes coherence across grade levels through attention to curriculum mapping, spirals, and connected instructional strategies
  4. Responsive to our students’ ever-changing needs Pre-K through 12:
    • uses multiple sources of student learning data to facilitate asking questions about student learning on a regular and systematic basis
    • promotes dialogue about the data and current practices
    • assures alignment between student and teacher needs and district goals to determine professional development
    • uses student needs to determine the skills, knowledge and beliefs teachers need to effect desired learning outcomes
  5. Sustained, continuous,and ongoing
    • fosters embedded, continuous, and sustained learning and provides for each stage of the educator’s career and at appropriate levels: awareness, basic, advanced, and follow-up
    • includes support for in-depth learning and collaboration that may include necessary resources, out-of-district experts, new perspectives, or multiple sources of information to guide improvement
    • enables teachers to know their subject, students, and practice and to make informed use of what they have learned
    • provides time and opportunity to apply what has been learned, refine skills, and measure application to student learning
    • provides adequate time, resources, and follow-up support
    • affords value and opportunity for personal and professional reflection and renewal
  6. Designed to promote active learning and a range of opportunities:
    • acknowledges the wide range of knowledge, skills, abilities, attitudes and attributes needed for professional and personal growth
    • offers multi-faceted options including: peer coaching, study groups, action research groups, online learning, dialogue sessions, curriculum development groups, grade-level and departmental meetings, collaborative planning, training, coaching/mentoring, professional team study, critical friends groups, and independent study
    • assists teachers in having a meaningful role in identifying what they need to learn, setting their goals for professional growth, selecting and designing their own learning, and evaluating their progress
    • models adult learning in the ways we want students to learn, including both pedagogy and content
    • integrates and encourages application of most advanced and appropriate technologies including online professional development
    • builds knowledge and ownership of professional growth through inquiry and action research
    • enables all staff to move toward full implementation of teaching standards and standards for becoming a multicultural school system

Revised 9/13/04 

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