News & Press

Professional Growth: Teachers As Learners

Professional growth is something we can all use more of, whether someone is at the top of an organization, just getting started, or even if they are teachers! In Eureka City Schools we have placed a high priority on professional development to improve student learning. We have been working with our teachers to increase opportunities for them to learn more about mastering their craft, the craft which leads to high levels of student learning.

Education is unique in many ways. With professional development, it is difficult to find time to work with teachers to develop best practices for reaching students. In sports, athletes generally spend more than 90 percent of their time practicing and less than 10 percent of their time competing. In education, it is the opposite, and teachers spend more than 90 percent of their time competing (to stick with the analogy) by delivering instruction and less than 10 percent of the time practicing (professional development).

While education will likely never have the same ratio of practice to competition as sports, we are happy to announce we have been diligently working to provide more opportunities for teachers to practice. In fact, we have added an additional professional development day and have reorganized our student early release on Mondays to improve our professional development opportunities. We now have a total of six full days of professional development, outside of school days, where we can work with our teachers on improving student learning. These six days are spread throughout the year and we have two of these days coming up on November 1st and 2nd. This year, these two days will focus on strategies to differentiate instruction inside the classroom for our various types and levels of learners and on a new learning management program called Unified Classroom. This program will allow teachers to have more data on students to help individualize their education, including test scores from current and past years, the teacher grade book, and other tools to help teachers focus their instruction.

The reorganization of our collaboration time with teachers is also providing us with a unique opportunity to continue to perfect the teaching craft. Every other Monday teachers will be meeting for 90 minutes to work together on improving instruction and on the opposite Monday, teachers will be meeting for 30 minutes. Many topics will be covered throughout the year including strategies on teaching reading, writing, mathematics and other content areas. The 90 minute Monday collaboration will allow teachers of the same subject or grade level to meet at common sites across the District.

Our goal is simple: We want a year’s worth of learning for a year’s worth of school. Over time, by accomplishing this goal, all students will be performing at grade level. So remember, when children are out of school on November 1st and 2nd, the teachers are practicing - practicing for improved student learning.