Professional Development: Teaching the Teacher

Posted by Richard H. Faidley on 7/28/2016

Jackie Joyner-Kersee is credited with saying, “I maintained my edge by always being a student; you will always have something new to learn.” At the Boyertown Area School District, we believe that professional development—continual learning—is essential for supporting great teachers and paraprofessionals.

There are three ways teachers engage in professional development: the district’s Induction Program, administratively directed hours, and job-embedded learning.

Our school district offers a three-year Induction Program; the state requires districts to offer a one-year program. During the first year, teachers new to the Boyertown Area School District attend monthly meetings where they learn about the district and how to become an active member of the community, and spend time with a mentor. During the second year, elementary-level teachers participate in a writing academy while secondary-level teachers learn methods for integrating reading and writing into the content area. In the third year, the teachers choose a content area to explore in depth.

Beyond the Induction Program, teachers are required to earn 12 administratively directed hours. These curriculum-based sessions focus on refining their classroom practices and embedding technology into their daily teaching. Many of these sessions are offered during the summer months.

At the Boyertown Area School District, we believe that professional learning should be embedded in the job and ongoing. It is with this in mind that teachers are required to attend nine one-hour sessions throughout the school year. These sessions could include networking at the building level and analyzing student test data.

Professional development doesn’t just apply to the district’s teachers. Paraprofessionals in the district work with students who are struggling or students who have a disability. Like teachers, paraprofessionals are required to engage in and earn 20 hours of training related to their jobs. These hours can be earned through the Berks County Intermediate Unit or the PA Technology and Training Network, or by attending trainings offered by the district.

Joyner-Kersee was right that “you will always have something to learn,” and with ever-evolving technologies and practices, the Boyertown Area School District is committed to supporting the teachers and paraprofessionals who work with our students daily.