School Update: How Professional Development days were used

This summer, the NSBORO district took advantage of an offer by the state to substitute the first ten school days with Professional Development Days for teachers. Last night, the Combined School Committees learned how those days were used.

Assistant Superintendent Stefanie Reinhorn headed the initiative. She assured that a recurring theme was getting students to play active roles in their learning. That will also be part of ongoing work. (More PD days are coming up this fall.)*

Reinhorn showed examples of the teachers’ agendas for each day. Schedules included school based sessions and time spent in collaboration. Collaboration was within and across schools, disciplines, roles, and districts. Ongoing collaboration time is also built into their schedules this year.

Naturally, there was significant time was dedicated to use of technology. That included making sure everyone had the necessary skills for the school platforms and was on the same page as to how to use them. Outside speakers included an educational tech consultant. His advice included how to use the tools to make students active participants.

The other expert brought in was a child psychologist who regularly works with the district. That tied into the topic of Social-Emotional Wellness of teachers and students.

Other key topics were Health & Safety Protocols, Operational Procedures, and “Culturally Responsive Pedagogy”. That last one was explained by the District’s Director of English Learners and Equity. Rhoda Webb said one focus of those sessions was the difference between caring “for” and “about” a student. She expounded, 

When you truly care for a student you deeply know a student’s story, and you deeply uplift a student’s identity and culture and background.

PD schedules included time for self-directed learning. The district provided resources including webinars for teachers to explore. But they also allowed teachers to select their own options to pursue their own interests and needs.

Schedules also incorporated time for individual planning and to reflect. Reinhorn called it “Metacognition” time, using a John Dewey quote to explain: 

We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience.

Each day, teachers completed surveys. The differing questions gave administrators important feedback. But they also included “prompts”. Reinhorn said that she wanted faculty to step back, stop, think, set goals and take stock. 

Agendas that were used to provide schedules and zoom links will now serve as an ongoing resource. Reinhorn said that the agendas now link to recorded webinars and slideshows from the zoom calls and presentations. 

Members of the Combined school committees expressed appreciation for how the time was used. Several members noted they were impressed by the comprehensive plan pulled together on short notice. (The Department of Secondary and Elementary Education announced the extended PD option in late July. The combined committees voted to take up the option on August 7th. The change stretched the initially planned 2 Days of PD starting August 31st to last 12 days.)

*Upcoming Professional Development Days are:

  • Two half days – Mondays, October 5th and 19th (with Heritage Day/Columbus Day falling in between.)
  • Full days – November 3rd (Election Day) and March 5th.

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