Our schools have comprehensive five-year Professional Learning Plans that focus attention on alignment of curriculum, grading practices and assessment, and the implementation of the Common Core.
All three of our schools have a highly professional and dedicated staff. Individual teachers, teams of teachers, entire departments and other interdisciplinary groups of teachers work together on site, attend courses and workshops and work toward advanced degrees and National Board Certification on an ongoing basis. These professional growth activities are directly tied to each school’s WASC Action Plan goals and lead to improved practices in the classroom. The governing board and the district office administration supported these professional growth opportunities through release time, compensation for out-of-contract time and funding for workshop and conference attendance through the district’s Curriculum Institute.
New teachers, and teachers new to the District, enjoy a fully supported and very effectively implemented Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) program. BTSA organizes monthly meetings and additional workshop opportunities. Workshops and site meetings help orient new teachers to the particular policies of the school as well as the educational values of the school. The BTSA program employed by our school uses a Formative Assessment model that asks new teachers to choose one or two particular sub-categories of the California Teaching Standards as their professional growth goal. The identified goal is discussed in a one on one meeting with their BTSA coach and then observed by the coach in a classroom setting. The individual attention we are able to provide new teachers through our BTSA program helps them to improve their teaching practice and reflect on their growth. Department coordinators play a key role in supporting new teachers as well.
Classified staff plays a critical role in our school culture through their work and as members of our school community. They can also pursue professional growth activities individually and as teams on an ongoing basis.
Our Professional Development program has evolved over time. We have moved away from one-shot, stand-and-deliver type models, often involving outside speakers, to a new model for professional development that predominantly relies on teams of teachers, who have expertise in an area of need, designing and leading professional development activities in the district.
Last year for the first time ever, the district released a math teacher from her teaching duties and assigned her the responsibility of working with individual teachers helping them with the integration of new technology into the instructional program and supporting math teachers in the district as they transition to the Common Core. This model of support was so well received that we added three more teachers on special assignment to form an Instructional Support Team (IST).
Much of our schools’ work is guided by their WASC Action Plans (below.) All three of our schools received a six-year accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges with noteworthy commendations left by the Visiting Teams in 2012-13.