We’re often asked why we have so many early dismissals, and just what is in- service or staff development? In education, we often use the terms staff development, professional development and in-service education interchangeably. Just as in any profession, it is important that educators have ongoing professional development to improve their skills and address student learning needs. Research tells us that the single biggest effect on student achievement is the individual teacher in the classroom. Improve teaching skills and teaching practices, and in turn, student performance will improve.
Professional Learning Communities
Community members, business partners, and parents play a critical role in delivering on the mission statement of our district. In our vision, we reference the “Professional Learning Community” as encircling all of the work that we do in the district. In this context, the professional learning community is all of the various groups we serve beyond the students and the supportive role that each group plays in making school a successful experience for our students.
In addition to this larger all-encompassing PLC, our classroom teachers also meet as professional learning communities. The teacher level PLCs serve as additional professional development and provide a mechanism for having enriching conversations about student learning and how to best meet students’ learning needs. Richard DuFour (2008) argues that there are three key elements to successful PLC’s:
- Ensuring that students learn,
- Establishing a culture of collaboration,
- Focusing on results.
The diagram below indicates the PLC process used to have focused conversations around student learning.