The Sandwich Public Schools District is dedicated to helping teachers and support staff to grow by providing on-going professional learning opportunities throughout the school year. Professional Development Classes take a variety of forms.
Professional Book Study Group during Faculty Meetings/Curriculum Hours
PreK-6 Staff members are involved in a book study of Fair Isn’t Always Equal by Rick Wormeli. The book study is being led by Principals Deb Landry, Marc Smith and Trish Hill and take place after school each month at each school. Fair Isn’t Always Equal was chosen for the book study to help all staff come to common understandings as we prepare to launch Standards Based Report Cards for K-2 this year and for Gr 3-6 next year. Rick Wormeli offers the latest research, common sense thinking and raises the provocative questions. If the first meeting is any indication, the reading and discussion that all teachers and administrators will be working through together will be very meaningful for all.
After-School Professional Development
Dozens of PreK-6 teachers have signed up to take classes from 4pm-6pm to further explore important topics in Literacy. Literacy Coaches Donna Eident, Patti Leary and Ellen Mantenfel and ELA Curriculum Coordinator Maureen Wiklund are offering classes to teachers from across the district in fall and spring Sessions. Many teachers have signed up for classes in both fall and spring, committing themselves to professional learning across the year.
Patti Leary is teaching an eight session class called “When Readers Struggle,” after the text of the same name by Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell, which started last week with 22 participants from all schools. When Readers Struggle (WRS) explores instructional practices teachers can use to help struggling readers become successful. The course and the book is based on the belief that it is the combination of the efforts of classroom and intervention teachers that will help struggling readers. It is also important to build coherence across classroom and intervention instruction.
Ellen Mantenfel is teaching Initial Literacy Class for all classroom and Special Education teachers who are either new to the district, or are in a new grade level as teachers of reading, writing and word study. It is the first introduction to the principles of the Lesley University Literacy Collaborative, of which Sandwich is a member. Initial Literacy Class does stretch across the entire school year and is foundational – every SPS ELA teacher, PreK-8, must have this training. Teachers in Initial Literacy Class meet from 4:00-6:00 every other week, beginning on Sept 30 and ending in June. The Initial Literacy Class introduces teachers to the Reading Workshop, Writing Workshop and Word Study Frameworks that characterizes our teaching in Sandwich. Teachers learn about how to differentiate their instruction through Guided Reading, Guided Writing and more. The Inquiry approach to teaching and learning is explored. Teachers from across the district participate in Initial Literacy Class and are coached by the Literacy Coach in his/her own school.
Donna Eident will be teaching an eight session Genre Study class in the spring. The purpose of Genre Study is to help teachers learn an inquiry approach to genre study within a readers’ workshop. Through the inquiry approach, students will construct knowledge about genre that will help them think, talk, and read texts with deeper understanding, as well as write effectively across different genres. The Inquiry Approach to teaching and learning is a key characteristic of the STEM Academy and has been infused into literacy practices in Sandwich for many years. The 20+ teachers who have signed up for this after-school class are looking forward to deepening their understandings and increasing the effectiveness of their practices.
Maureen Wiklund is teaching two shorter classes – a four session fall class exploring the power of independent reading and a five session spring book study of Pathways to the Common Core by Lucy Caulkins.
Inservice Professional Development
Inservice Profesional Development takes place on early dismissal days at the PreK-6 schools and during late starts at the STEM Academy and Sandwich High School. In the past, these half days have provided time for teachers across grade levels to work together in District Curriculum Teams. The Science Team, led by Trish Hill, has been working on creating units of study that align with the Next Generation Science Standards. The Math Team, led by Clare Brady, has been doing Curriculum Mapping, incorporating the Common Core Math Standards. The ELA Team, led by Maureen Wiklund has been creating Writing Benchmarks – prompts, rubrics, anchor papers – that will help us assess and support the growth of our students as writers.
This year, the K-6 schools will be focused on working toward the reorganization of the schools and on initiatives that are in place for 2014-2016. On the first early dismissal day – October 1st – K-2 teachers will be working with a trainer from Everyday Math, learning about the revision of that program; and Gr 3-6 teachers will be working on the Standards Based Report Cards that will be launched at those grades in 2015-2016. Additionally, teachers and support staff who work in specialized areas will work with colleagues in professional learning communities.
Teachers in K-6 also participate in four full-day Professional Development Days during the school day, from October to April. They attend On-Going Literacy Professional Development taught by their Literacy Coach in the morning and either Math or Science Professional Development in the afternoon. Math Professional Development is taught by Clare Brady and the fall Science Classes – about the use of a Science Notebook – will be taught by Maureen Wiklund. These Professional Development classes provide the opportunity for teachers to work in grade level groups within their school with colleagues at adjacent levels. On-Going Professional Development in Literacy, Math and Science acknowledges the importance of continued professional growth and meets the requirements of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to provide Professional Development.
More information about the need for Inservice Professional Development can be found here.
As a district, we are proud of our teachers who put their heart and soul into the work they do every day teaching children. We are also proud of their commitment to their professional learning and their understanding that students and staff benefit from embracing a growth mindset. Our staff members voluntarily spend hours and hours both in classes described here and in other classes, as well as in professional reading and exploration to improved their practice. The energy and collegiality that characterizes Inservice Professional Development is inspiring.