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Professional Development….

October 25, 2010
This past Friday we had our first “Professional Development” day.  For students, all this really meant was the first real four day week of the year.  For staff, it was the start of the focused professional development and training for the year.

Based on my conversations with educators from across the State of Michigan and the nation…. very few feel like they have a great process for developing effective and relevant professional development opportunities for their staff.  At times, we have felt the same way here in Saline.  It is difficult to consistently provide targeted learning opportunities for a diverse staff.  Grade levels, core subjects, technology, special education, music, career & tech education, physical education, etc.  all have different needs.  Let’s just say it is a challenge.  The default position for most districts is to fill the auditorium and bring in a speaker that tries to connect a broad section of the staff.  Experience shows that the probability of success with this type of format may or may not be beneficial.

This year we have taken a different, more individualized approach.  Administrators have been assigned to each department and/or grade level.  They have met with department chairpersons or grade level leaders and developed goals for the year.  Based on these goals, specific professional development opportunities are being developed.  During this process a few issues have emerged.  First, it’s difficult to manage.  Like in a classroom, breaking everyone into groups and trying to meet their individual needs is a challenge.  Second, keeping track of where each group is at along with being prepared for the next professional development day is time consuming.  Lastly, we need to make sure the entire process is aligned to the goals and vision of the district.

My group is the high school technology department composed of auto tech, electronics, graphics, machine tool, metals, photography & video production.  As you can see, even within a department there is a large degree of diversity.  Our first day involved touring two local businesses – Adaptive Materials and Menlo Innovations – to learn more about what a 21st century workplace looks like and what skills they are looking for when hiring.  I appreciate the two companies for taking the time to share their thoughts with us as we work to make sure what we are teaching and skills we are trying to enhance are relevant in the marketplace.

I am looking forward to reviewing the feedback we get from staff about this individualized approach.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Joanne permalink
    October 26, 2010 3:07 pm

    Why doesn’t the course offerings at the HS in the “technology” department include any programming courses such as C++? Software applications for business, health care, education etc. continue to be an area of career opportunity, yet many high schools do not offer these classes. A variety of engineering classes would also benefit students who are thinking about a career in technology. Saline HS offers so many advanced classes in Science and Math preparing our students for a competitive world. We should be looking at advanced course work in technology and engineering too.

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