I have been a building principal for just over one year now, so it’s time for some serious reflection. One thing I am completely passionate about is professional learning. As a leader, am I modeling and supporting this with staff?
Here’s how we are cultivating a professional learning cultural at Indian Hills.
1. Make it a priority in the budget. Our budget now includes conferences and book studies. I’ve also partnered with our librarian to build up the professional library.
2. Align conferences to building goals. When staff ask to go to a conference, ask them how it relates to the building goals and their professional goals. Also, be very clear about the expectation when they return (more on this later).
3. Optional book studies. Last April, I selected a variety of qualify professional learning books and offered any staff member to lead them. They signed up to lead the study and planned it out. In May and again in August, staff could sign up to participate. If they wanted to write in the book and highlight it, they had to buy their own copy. If not, I purchased the book for them to check out from the professional library.
4. Offer half day subs for them to observe peers in the building. Again, make expectations clear and align the purpose to building goals.
5. Spread the wealth! I keep a running list of who leads book studies, who has participated in book studies, and who I have sent to conferences. Now, I can make sure to reach out to staff who haven’t been able to find a space for professional learning and create something that will work for them. Again, if I value professional learning then I must remove the barriers!
After attending conferences, staff present/share a Top 10 Google Slide document for others. If it was a multisession conference, a Top 10 is created for each session. Staff also present professional development sessions on what they learned at the building and district level.
This format has worked really well for our building. Staff know that we have a purpose for ongoing professional development, but also that it’s not just a day off. Hold that expectation high, and make sure that all staff are able to participate to find their passion in teaching.