School district reviews staff development report

Wilton-Board-of-Ed

The Wilton Professional Learning Program is designed to help school district staff grow professionally while promoting 21st-Century learning skills that will enable students to succeed.

Assistant Superintendent Charles Smith briefed the Wilton Board of Education on the school district’s 2013-14 Staff Development Report during its May 8 meeting.

According to the report, the professional learning and staff evaluation program focuses on the “unique needs of the district, each school, department and individual staff member.”

“I think the teachers in Wilton are very lucky to have a leadership team that values their professional growth and works so hard to make sure that their time spent is meaningful and productive,” said Dr. Smith.

Purpose

“I think we all agree that the quality of instructional practice is the single most important factor in student learning,” said Dr. Smith. “But the real question is, How do we support our teachers in mastering and managing all of the complexities involved with the teaching environment?”

He said the understanding of professional practice is constantly evolving as more insight is gained into how students learn best.

“Professional learning needs to be comprehensive, it needs to be differentiated, it needs to be ongoing, and it needs to be directly related to the issues that teachers are facing,” Dr. Smith told the board.

To do that, said Dr. Smith, a process of inquiry and reflection is put in place “where teachers can challenge their assumptions about teaching and learning.”

Process

While the state Department of Education expects school districts to offer a minimum of 18 hours of programming for staff each year, the Wilton School District surpassed that, providing four professional learning days for teachers per year, that included:

  • Three days of building-based professional learning.
  • One district-based learning day.

“The teachers in Wilton participated in a wide variety of professional learning activities across all subject barriers,” said Dr. Smith.

“I think the teacher evaluation process was the greater focus of professional learning this year.”

Teachers need a great deal of support when it comes to the school system’s particular requirements, said Dr. Smith, “and in understanding the instructional vision that the plan put forth.”

Activities

According to the report, staff members participated in writing workshops and learned about the Clicker 6 reading and writing educational software, iPads and applications.

The staff also engaged in social-emotional learning that included:

  • Protected-class harassment.
  • Bullying.
  • Threat awareness.
  • Threat assessment team training.

“One of the areas we focused on was school climate. All secondary staff received training from Dr. [David] Bernstein in school violence prevention,” said Dr. Smith.

Dr. Bernstein, a school security consultant, also met with the threat assessment teams at Middlebrook and the high school to provide protected-class harassment and threat assessment training, said Dr. Smith.

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