Expanding faculty capacity through professional development is a key element when developing a vibrant faculty culture to improve students learning. It involves both form and content. The various forms include the coaching and mentoring inherent in the evaluation and growth cycle described above, peer-to-peer observation and demonstration and review, graduate level education and conferences and seminars both internal and external and so forth. The content of professional development will be determined by clearly articulated expectations, and from the individual improvement plans generated annually during the evaluation cycle. For example, a new teacher that holds a teaching degree may still lack specific experience in the classical Christian philosophy and pedagogical practices of The School. This educator needs a year of well thought out orientation that begins as part of the induction process the summer prior to the first year of school. It would be best for a teacher like this to assist in the first year and move into a lead teacher position the next. All teachers need ongoing professional development to grow from good to great.
Forms for Professional Development at The Case-Study School that are Doable Right Away
1. Cycle of observation, feedback, evaluation and segue to professional development
2. Coaching and mentoring targeting first full time classroom teachers then part time teachers and coaches
3. Peer to Peer observations, demonstration and eventually peer review of some kind
4. Annually updated individual professional improvement programs for each teacher as part of the end of year evaluation
5. Professional development days that focus on developing teachers to perform on expectations. In one school I consult we increased these days from zero to five in the first year.
6. Bring in the needed teachers of teachers to strengthen professional development days. The Case-Study School will bring in a highly regarded teacher of math teachers to teach all of the math teachers in grades six through twelve. Another school plans to introduce composition and speech in the classical tradition in upper school as a prelude to rhetoric. They will bring a specialized teacher of the progymnasmata to teach all English language and literature, history, theology and rhetoric teachers to apply this approach across the curriculum.
7. National conferences for school leaders.
8. Specialized off campus training such as Advanced Placement and Great Books Shared Inquiry, developing upper school students in higher reasoning skills, identifying and remediating reading deficiencies and more.
9. Book studies by school division that focus on meeting expectations not just philosophy of education
10. School visits to expose division heads and faculty to high performing faculty and faculty cultures
Examples of Content of Professional Development for The Case-Study School
The case study school adopted a realignment of middle and upper school curriculum that will require considerable faculty development.
1. Integrating the principles of logic and rhetoric, or higher level reasoning and articulation skills into upper school teaching, conversation, assignments, and assessments
2. Improving mathematics and science instruction and learning in middle and upper school including philosophy, methods and advanced placement for advanced sections.
3. Integrating classical languages more deeply across the curriculum into middle and upper school teaching, assignments and assessments
4. Integrating composition and speech in the classical tradition (progymnasmata) into writing, literature, bible/theology/apologetics and history
5. Principles of good classroom management. This is especially important because the length of teaching periods varies requiring an adjusted approach to maximize learning
6. Employing multiple techniques to obtain, maintain and regain student attention and interest and to challenge the student to rise to the next level of learning
7. And so much more.