Professional Learning for School-Based Teams

What are professional learning for school-based teams opportunities?

School-based professional learning opportunities include:

  • Designated days including the time previously given to system Institutes
  • Professional learning for school-based teams release time allocations (1000 days for teacher release time division-wide and allocated to schools based in proportion to staff complement, student population and learning program)

Why  professional learning for school-based teams?

The aim of school-based professional learning is to create, strengthen and sustain communities of practice within schools where teachers, staff and in-school administrators together engage in the planning, action, assessment, and reflection to improve teaching, learning, and schools. The focus is on supporting well-organized, carefully structured and purposefully directed professional learning.

Using a collaborative approach, teachers learn from and with other teachers in their schools and classrooms. They build shared responsibility, respectful and trusting relationships, and teach each other their craft. School-based professional learning also contributes to:

  • More school-based decision making and accountability for professional learning
  • Supporting frequent, continuous and increasingly concrete and precise talk among teachers about their practice in relation to student learning
  • Professional learning embedded in the school day and grounding it in the real world of how individual educators learn and how schools as organizations affect their learning and practice
  • Developing and sustaining collegial work (professional community) to improve learning and teaching
  • Coherence and alignment of professional learning with successful school improvement, the Professional Development and Performance Evaluation (PD/PE) process, school Learning Improvement Plans, and the division's Continuous Improvement Plan

How does it work?

Each school is allocated release time in proportion to staff complement, student population and learning program.

School-based administrators and teachers are encouraged to use the Professional Learning Design (PLD) to plan their work together. Refer to information provided below. The PLD process begins planning with the end in mind--what we want to accomplish, focusing on learners and learning outcomes, and working back from there. Decisions made at each level of design deeply affect those made at the next level. Planning requires participants to describe the purposes, decision points, action, and reflection that will lead to powerful school-based professional learning and staff development. Focused conversations work well in facilitating PLD.

 Once purpose is clear, go online to check release time availability on the ISS Central Calendar.

Use Outlook Web Access, click on Public Folders, then click on ISS Central Calendar; OR, use Office Outlook (or Entourage), click on Public Folders menu, open All Public Folders and click on the ISS Central Calendar. Look for openings in the calendar. There is a limit of 20 subs per every half-day. The calendar gives abbreviations for events, times and number of substitute teachers used per event.

Then contact Juanita Redekopp-McKeown (306.523.3136) to confirm the best dates/times for your school.

When the date/time is confirmed, the final planning step is to reserve substitute teachers: Stephanie Houde (306.523.3033) for Elementary, or Nyone Blish (306.546.2088) for High School.

Schools may choose to combine and link their professional learning activities with regular school-based Professional Community Days. Staff from several schools may also collaborate to plan and share in professional learning activities.

Parents & Community: Partners in Professional Learning

Informing parents/care-givers, families and community about professional learning activities helps them appreciate the daily personal investment in learning that teachers and staff are making. They can fully understand and support the work of schools. Involving them in discussions about learning, teaching and schools can build stronger relationships and more inclusive learning communities.

Schools are encouraged to communicate with parents/care-givers, families, and the community about professional learning activities and opportunities. Letting them know specific dates will assist in arranging for child-care. Effective professional learning benefits children and young people—as teachers and staff enhance their knowledge and skills to better meet students’ needs and improve learning. The provision of qualified substitute teachers to occasionally release teachers, enables regular classroom teachers to participate in professional learning with colleagues in the school or away at a workshop or conference.

Some schools have very successfully involved parents and community members in school-based professional learning events. Together, as partners in public education, participants learn from each other, becoming more informed and wiser about the complex process of teaching and learning in schools.

Build support for professional learning by showcasing professional learning in your school. Through messages on web sites and in newsletters, tell parents precisely why children are home for the day or are having substitute teachers while teachers are still working. Encourage and support staff members in communicating informally with parents/care-givers about the details of their professional learning and the benefits to students.

For additional information please contact Juanita Redekopp-McKeown, Supervisor of Instruction (306.523.3136).