BGPS’ Teachers Benefit from Professional Development Days
September 11, 2014
Teachers in Battle Ground Public Schools met this past Wednesday afternoon to start the year’s professional development series. The district has scheduled 11 early release days designed for professional development opportunities for teachers and staff. This week’s focus was examining student data and work on this year’s school improvement plans. Teachers use collaborative time to identify student needs and create plans to support students’ academic success. The remaining professional development early release days will allow administrators, teachers and staff to focus on the implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS), Teacher Principal Evaluation Project, assessments and proven instructional practices.
"The past few years the district has realized that teachers need time to work together and collaborate around the new standards, new testing, and new report cards," said Mark Ross, Battle Ground's assistant superintendent of teaching and learning. "There are a lot of things we are asking teachers to do in addition to assessing student growth and creating goals."
CCSS represents a shift in the teaching of English language arts (writing, reading, listening, and speaking) and math. The standards were designed to ensure that all students are learning what they need to know to graduate from high school prepared for college or a career. The district has been preparing for CCSS over the past several years and will be joining all districts across the state with full implementation this year. Professional development time has been an essential element in preparing for this year’s implementation.
The district has asked educators to focus some professional development afternoons on goals and collaboration within their schools, while on other afternoons teachers will come together across grade levels or subjects to share and learn the most effective teaching methods that will increase student achievement. "We want to make sure all teachers have the same understanding of what we expect the kids to know and be able to do," Ross said.
Teachers at Tukes Valley Primary spent the afternoon with their new principal, Jennifer Paulsen, discussing how teaching methods affect student achievement and what teachers can do to increase student achievement. "Teachers did a pre-assessment that told them about where their kids are at," Paulsen said. "Now they're looking deeper at student work to determine students' strengths and weaknesses, and teachers are using that information to plan instruction."
Teachers can also use student assessment data to discover more effective teaching methods. "If one class is doing better than another, then we want to find out why and share those teaching strategies across classrooms," Ross said.
The school district is constantly assessing the need for teacher collaboration and reevaluates the school calendar each year. "We want our teachers in classrooms and students in school, so it's important to determine the most effective balance," Ross said. Additional early release days are scheduled throughout the year for parent-teacher conferences and to monitor student progress and assign grades.