Redefining Professional Development
As an athlete in my childhood (yes… past tense…) I relished the feelings following a hard-earned victory or long workout that mixed total exhaustion with exuberant energy or excitement. The same feelings emerge after a large musical production following weeks of long, hard rehearsals, and I believe we educators thrive on the ebb and flow of exhaustion and passionate energy in the ongoing cycles of the school year. Today I am both exhausted from two weeks of long-planned leadership retreats and absolutely energized by the excitement of passionate leaders focusing on the right work in ISD 191.
Returning to my office after the retreat today I spotted a post by fellow blogger and elementary school leader Lyn Hilt that captures much of what we have focused on for the past two weeks. Her post “Out with professional development, in with professional learning” calls out the need to move away from sit-and-get professional development and to embrace the ongoing journey of continuous improvement, inquiry, professional learning, and the collaborative work necessary for growth. It’s affirming to read this post and to reflect on the past two days with the ISD 191 District Leadership Team (DLT) and the previous two days with school principals. Our work has focused on empowering and supporting principals and Building Leadership Teams to lead faculty through the continuous improvement processes of completing needs assessments, goal setting, creating action plans, implementing plans, and evaluating results. We’ve discussed the challenges of change and the leadership strategies necessary to do this work at building and district levels. We’ve identified anticipated pitfalls and reflected on the need to “embrace the questions” instead of demanding simple answers. Today I am tired, but I am incredibly appreciative of the passion, talent, and courage of each DLT member.
What’s ahead in 191? A re-commitment to the hard work involved in being a true Professional Learning Community. We are committed to focusing on results, learning and collaboration. Building Leadership Teams are writing School Improvement Plans supported by ongoing professional development/learning to help us reach the SIP goals. Building teams are empowered to create collaborative teams that are meaningful and to bring alignment to our professional learning so it directly impacts our work with students. Teacher leaders are trusted and expected to lead, and our focus is tightly held to student learning.
The 2011-12 school year is already off to a great start here in ISD 191 with teacher leaders and principals establishing focused plans for the collaborative work ahead. I am grateful for the support of an excellent Teaching and Learning Team, and my fatigue today is full of anticipation and excitement!
Clock picture by CanadianAEh