, Professional Development Coordinator
Room 208, District Center
The office of professional development coordinates the means by which staff acquire or enhance the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and beliefs necessary to create high levels of learning for all students. Professional development is an ongoing process that engages staff in improving curriculum, instruction, and assessment to increase student achievement.
The White Bear Lake Area Schools takes a continuous improvement plan approach to staff development. To that end, each building submits a Building Improvement Plan to the Office of Teaching and Learning by October of each year. The plan addresses various areas related to continuous improvement at each building site that are aligned with district goals and are data-driven.
The purpose of the plan is to provide a clear focus for the utilization of both building resources (time, staff, volunteers, funds, etc.) and district support (resource staff, framework training, staff development time, curriculum development, etc.). The plans summarize each building's strengths and areas for improvement based on data sources including, but not limited to: MCAs, BSTs, ITBS, CAREI, MN Student Survey, SEARCH Institute surveys and building/classroom assessments.
District 624 staff are encouraged to use scientifically-based principles of best practice to improve upon their teaching in an effort to provide all students with an opportunity to learn and succeed.
Best Practice Research
District 624 educators are encouraged to incorporate the following educational practices into their lesson plans.* These practices are based on best practice research.
- STUDENT CENTERED: The starting point for beginning teaching is based on the interests of the students. Investigating the questions posed by students is key.
- EXPERIENTIAL: Active learning is powerful and natural. Students should have first-hand opportunities to engage with the concepts taught, across the curriculum.
- HOLISTIC: Students learn best when they encounter whole ideas, events, and materials, as opposed to studying isolated subjects.
- AUTHENTIC: Students are empowered by being provided with real, rich, and complex materials.
- EXPRESSIVE: Students draw upon a range of communicative media to engage ideas, construct meaning, and remember information.
- REFLECTIVE: Priority must be given for processing learning experiences. Students should be able to determine what they have felt, thought, and learned as a result of learning opportunities.
- SOCIAL: Classroom interactions that build upon learning are needed to increase understanding.
- COLLABORATIVE: Cooperative learning opportunities access the social power of learning.
- DEMOCRATIC: Students learn citizenship first within the classroom. The classroom is a model community.
- COGNITIVE: Higher-order thinking results in the most powerful learning experiences. This involves inquiry and self-monitoring the thinking process.
- DEVELOPMENTAL: Students pass through a series of definable stages. Educational activities should be fitted to the developmental level of students.
- CONSTRUCTIVIST: Students are more than receivers of content. They recreate and reinvent content to attain understanding that is purely theirs.
- CHALLENGING: Students learn best when presented with challenges and choices, and when they are given responsibility for their own learning.
* For more in depth information regarding best teaching practices, the following text is suggested: Best Practice: New Standards for Teaching and Learning in America's Schools by Steven Zemelman, Harvey Daniels, and Arthur Hyde.
Professional Development Opportunities
Check with the Professional Development Office (407-7581) for additional courses and workshops.
Common Recommendations for Classroom Instruction
| LESS whole-class, teacher directed instruction
|| MORE experiential, inductive, hands-on learning
| LESS student passivity (sitting, listening)
|| MORE active learning in the classroom
| LESS presentational, one-way transmission of information from teacher to students
|| MORE diverse roles for teachers, including coaching and modeling
| LESS valuing and rewarding of silence in the classroom
|| MORE student movement, talking, and collaboration
| LESS classroom time devoted to fill-in-the-blank worksheets and workbooks
|| MORE emphasis on higher order thinking
| LESS time spent reading basal readers and textbooks
|| MORE reading of real texts: whole books, non-fiction
| LESS attempt to cover large amounts of information in every subject area
|| MORE deep study of a smaller number of topics
| LESS rote memorization of facts and details
|| MORE attention to various learning styles
| LESS emphasis on competition and grades
|| MORE cooperative and collaborative activity
| LESS tracking into ability groups
|| MORE heterogeneously grouped classrooms
| LESS use of pull-out programs
|| MORE delivery of special help in the regular classroom
| LESS use of/reliance on standardized testing
|| MORE observational/anecdotal evaluation