District engages in rigorous process to improve professional learning | Chalkboard Project

District engages in rigorous process to improve professional learning

Tuesday, February 28, 2017 Mark Angle Days Creek School Signage


Reprinted with permission. This blog post first appeared in Dr. Angle’s Blog at Day Creek Charter Schools on February 7, 2017. Dr. Mark Angle is superintendent of Days Creek Charter School.

Days Creek Charter School is fortunate to have been one of three Douglas County School Districts to be selected to participate in a rigorous process to examine how we deliver professional learning and to plan ways to better engage our faculty in designing and participating in quality professional learning that has positive impacts on student achievement.

Over the last four months, Cathy Knapp, Ron Dunn, Jesse Jackson, David Hunt and Superintendent, Dr. Mark Angle attended four, full-day trainings (once per month) hosted by the Ford Family Foundation and provided at no-cost to the district by Chalkboard Project. Monthly, educators from the Portland area spent the day in Roseburg providing content and facilitating activities to assist us with determining ways to improve professional learning in our district. 

Elkton SD and Roseburg SD were also participants, and opportunities were provided at each session for collaboration and learning across districts.  

At the first session, we spent time learning about the PROCESS we would use to engage in this work: improvement science. We spent time READING and RESEARCHING the issues with current professional learning (PL). We also learned about promising practices for improving the quality and implementation of professional learning.  We articulated and examined our core beliefs.  (As an unexpected outreach of this work, the Superintendent engaged the faculty and boards to refine and publish those Core Beliefs, having cross-referenced them with the District Educational Philosophy, the Charter Board’s mission/vision and goals, and the Superintendent’s ‘Give Me Five’ initiative).

We also identified our problem of practice (PoP) at the first session: "In Days Creek there isn't always growth/change in educator practice as a result of/due to professional learning." The causes that we attributed to this problem included: time, capacity, mindset, resources, differentiation, implementation, and vision of outcome.

Our “homework” following that first session was to gather empathy data from the faculty to determine their perceptions of quality professional learning. We did this through an individual interview process in which we asked a series of questions about best and worst experiences faculty have had with professional learning.

At the second session, we spent time analyzing our interview data and determining what qualities our faculty most value in professional learning. What we discovered is that our faculty desires PL that meets their individual needs, has immediate application, and includes follow-up for implementation.  The ability to collaborate also was frequently mentioned.

Next, we had to identify barriers to meeting the expectations for professional learning that teachers had identified. We realized that “competing interests with competing outcomes” is an issue for us. By this, we mean that even though everyone has good intentions, we sometimes are pursuing separate agendas based on expectations of one or both boards, state requirements, administrative goals, or teacher interests. Having everyone on the same page and focused on a common theme would be in the best interest of all.   

At the second session, the improvement science steps used were: mapping the system (looking at the system from all perspectives), which is what led us to the competing interests/competing outcomes conclusion. At the end of the session an aim statement was written by the group that stated:  “All teachers in Days Creek will have more opportunities to engage in relevant and collaborative PL.”

To read the full blog post, visit http://bit.ly/2l8vbg7.

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