We all know the routine. We check the calendar; get a phone call, a reminder, or some other form of communication about a late start, early release or full day of professional development from the high school. We all shift gears and think what to do with logistics such as transportation, child care, and other duties that go along with raising a family.
So the natural question that arises, and one that I have been asked in the past is, “What goes on during this time? What happens with teaching staff when they are at the high school, but without any students?”
To start to answer that question, one way I like to think of professional development is that all of our Trenton High School staff are working as professionals in a learning community, meaning working in different teams throughout the high school, as opposed to working in isolation. Like all excellent professions, such as a doctor, dentist, or attorney, educators are using professional development to improve their skills.
Would you want to go to a doctor or dentist that has not been working to improve, a doctor or dentist that never attends any type of conference or other methods to grow as a professional? A professional that feels they have all the answers and do not attend conferences? Of course not. You would want to go to a doctor or dentist that is aware of the latest forms of treatment for you and your family.
A few things we did at the recent professional development this year was establish our working agreements. Working agreements are the norms in which all staff can agree on things such as, we start/end on time, we show respect for each other, and we have an agenda to keep our meeting time valued.
We reviewed and worked on our mission for Trenton High School. We have a mission to “inspire students.” We also reviewed and revisited our vision which is to continuously improve, which is the point of this article and professional development … to continuously improve, to have the high school move from good to great, much like a good dentist or family doctor would do to improve their practice.
To help us work collaboratively, we had THS staff sit in rows face-to-face. Staff would ask each other questions like, “What is your favorite instructional strategy? What is your definition of formative assessment and, to have a little fun, what is your favorite sports team?”
Staff had three minutes to answer the questions, then they would move to a different staff member. Staff would share what instructional practice works in their classroom. Much like a doctor would share what works best for them when dealing with a students, er…I mean patients.
As a staff we worked on our goals for the year, such as the possibility of moving ahead with an International Baccalaureate program at THS, the upgrade in technology to include Chrome books or laptops, and how we document when we respond to intervene with a struggling student.
This is just a sample of how we operate (no pun intended) at Trenton High School during professional development time. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call me at (734) 692-4531 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow me on Twitter at @DocThs80.
Dr. Michael Doyle is principal of Trenton High School.