PROFESSIONAL LEARNING

Professional Learning

What Professional Learning Means to FSSD
The Franklin Special School District mission statement of “Teaching and Learning for All,” simply means it is our goal to provide high quality teaching and learning opportunities for all students, parents, teachers and administrators.  Research has shown that high quality professional learning for all teachers improves the learning of all students. With professional learning, teachers can design more meaningful learning opportunities for their students, enabling students to meet high academic standards. This data driven, ongoing, research based, and high quality professional learning program is designed to raise the academic performance and achievement of all students, including one year or more academic growth.
As they meet with their colleagues, teachers discuss new and effective strategies that will meet the needs of all of their students. The Franklin Special School District realizes professional learning is vital for school improvement and has designed a program with high standards, based on careful analysis of student academic data and learning needs.
 
Lunch and Learn Professional Learning Teams
At the beginning of every quarter the Associate Director of Schools for Teaching and Learning and the Curriculum and Professional Learning Supervisor meet with a team at each school to discuss data and request input regarding professional learning and other issues and needs. Teachers from each grade or specialty area, paraprofessionals and school administrators participate in the Lunch and Learns and are able to suggest agenda items prior to each meeting. The input and questions from the Lunch and Learn team members as well as from their colleagues is extremely enlightening and valuable. Information gleaned from these meetings is utilized to plan for the two district-wide professional learning days, professional learning offerings throughout the year, and to drive targeted professional learning sessions and/or discussions at each site.  The goal of the Lunch and Learns is to have a truly open and collaborative process to tailor professional learning to the needs of FSSD teachers, paraprofessionals, and administrators with optimal student learning as the result.
 
Time to Learn
To provide the framework for a high quality professional learning program, time must be embedded into the school year so that teachers will have an opportunity to learn, implement what they have learned, talk with their colleagues and continue to investigate.During professional learning time, teachers continue to deepen their own knowledge of the subjects they teach by working with experts in the field, observing other model classrooms, participating in online courses or interactive video sessions, developing technological skills that increase productivity and support student learning, and collaborating with colleagues in study groups or learning communities. Like practitioners in other professional fields, educators must keep abreast of emerging knowledge in their field. Therefore, time has been intentionally placed in the FSSD calendar to provide ongoing, sustained and job embedded professional learning. This time is scheduled outside of the time that a teacher spends with students.
  • Three days are designated in the FSSD calendar for district professional learning.  On one of these days, all teachers come together to design curriculum, create pacing guides and district assessments and to explore additional instructional strategies that been proven to result in student achievement. 
  • Two days are designated as district-wide professional learning days during which all FSSD educators have the opportunity to select and attend courses provided by other FSSD professionals as well as by presenters from outside the district. These sessions address a wide variety of professional learning topics including research-based best instructional practices, intervention and enrichment, technology, and education law.
  • At least 18 additional hours are earned through professional learning sessions, which occur in the summer, after school and on the weekends. These learning opportunities are designed based on identified district needs.
  • Two full days and six partial days are set aside for school based professional learning.  Two days occur at the beginning of the school year to explore student data and plan for new school initiatives.  The six partial days occur on days when students are dismissed early and teachers remain to continue to work and learn.
  • In addition, four other days have been placed in the calendar during the summer and at the beginning and end of the school year so that teachers can attend to administrative needs in their schools such as preparing the classroom environment, conferencing with parents and completing records.
Professional Learning Requirements: Teachers must participate in the district and school-based learning days as designated in the school calendar. In addition, teachers are responsible for a minimum of 18 hours of professional learning outside of these days.  At least 9 of these hours should come from Menu Courses. A teacher may choose to earn all required 18 hours with menu-driven courses.
 
The definitions and requirements for both Menu and Personal Choice professional development follow:
  • Menu Courses provide time for teachers to engage in identified topics, which support district and school goals.  Menu professional learning opportunities are posed and offered throughout the year, including after school, on weekends, and during summer breaks. Menu credit is approved through the district.
     
  • Personal Choice Courses provide experiences that are not necessarily based on district needs but meet the needs of a particular teacher or a particular school. The building principal must approve personal choice options prior to attending the activity. Personal choice approval forms are available from each building principal.
 
Learning is Ongoing
Research has shown that student learning most often occurs when a teacher has deep content knowledge of his or her subject as well as expertise in a variety of research based instructional practices and strategies.  Teachers also continually investigate and prepare to use a variety of classroom assessment strategies so they can make informed decisions and differentiate student instruction. By designing a professional learning program that is ongoing and job embedded, not only are teachers learning to use current and appropriate research-based strategies, they are supported as they implement these strategies in their classroom.
 
Through their involvement in this professional learning program, teachers and administrators are models of life-long learning and demonstrate the importance of continued education to their students. In FSSD, it is truly  “Excellence in Teaching and Learning for All.”
 
Curriculum and Professional Learning
Mary Decker, Supervisor
Deb Naber, Secretary
1406 Cannon St.
Franklin, TN  37064
615-591-2802