As the first month of 2017 finishes up and as we move towards the second half of this school year, it is a good time to reflect on what we have accomplished and what still needs to be done. This has led me to think about the importance of professional learning for all members of our organization.
In August 2016 the Ontario College of Teachers released the revised Foundations of Professional Practice and this update includes the revised Professional Learning Framework for the Teaching Profession. Page 24 of the document states the following:
A commitment to ongoing learning is a central tenet of teacher professionalism. Educators’ professional knowledge and efficacy are foster through engagement in professional learning and this is inextricably connected to student learning.
Within our organization our teaching and school administrative staff are part of many formal professional learning opportunities on topics such as the Renewed Math Strategy, literacy, assessment for, as, and of learning, kindergarten teaching and learning just to mention a few. However, it’s not just our teaching staff who participate in ongoing professional learning – our support staff, our service department staff and our senior administration also take time to engage in learning to support the work we do towards our goal of Success for Every Student.
At our weekly Executive Council meeting the senior team participates in professional learning both informally as we review current initiatives, reports going to Board and annual operating plan progress and also formally as we connect our work to the District Effectiveness Framework (2013) in our own learning sessions.
Our Trustees also engage in ongoing professional learning. Recently the Trustees and I spent some time together on a Monday evening to learn more about the Strong Districts Work that has been in place since 2012 and to review the characteristics of strong districts as formalized in the District Effectiveness Framework. Our discussions included what we mean in our 2016 – 2020 Multi-Year Strategic Plan when we refer to “a culture of high expectations” and how this statement includes students, staff and the system as a whole. This was our second professional learning session this school year and we have another one planned in April. These sessions are a great opportunity for our Trustees to gain awareness and knowledge in an environment of co-learning and co-leading. For me it is great to have a team of Trustees who are interested and engaged in what informs our system with Success for Every Student at the centre of our work.
Ongoing professional Learning is a foundation of professional practice for all of us involved in the work of a school board. It is through learning together at all levels of our system that we will move forward in achieving Success for Every Student in a Culture of High Expectations with a Focus on Students and Staff.