The current system of professional development is very arbitrary and does more to retard development than assist with it.
Currently these are a random assortment of presentations that largely ignore the inquiry process and the daily needs of teachers. Teachers do not profit much from them because they have very little energy to receive new methods at the end of the workday, that are not connected to what is going in their classroom. On a typical PD Tuesday many teachers plan lessons, grade work, input grades and carry out other essential duties. Those that follow protocol and remain attentive during the presentation realize they are losing valuable time in attending to the job for a presentation they will not help them.
A few things would solve this problem. One is to follow a scientific method where teachers create questions they want to explore that our relevant to what is going on in their classroom. If a small group of teachers want to develop culturally responsive instruction for the year, guide them in developing a framework, allow them to do research, develop a hypothesis, test it, draw conclusions and report their results. This way PD has a clear line of growth and teachers are applying what they are learning in their classrooms. Our workloads are way too large to allow for so much wasted motion that only takes away time from our personal lives because we have to prioritize the students in front of us on a daily basis.
Release days to increase planning time.
To really allow teachers to optimize their instruction it is necessary to actually compensate them for all the planning that is necessary to execute an engaging units and lessons. Teachers spend enormous amounts of time developing and adjusting curriculum after hours during the school year in order to maintain bell to bell, rigorous, differentiated, interactive activities for all of their students. It truly takes about an hour to plan for every hour instruction. Yet teachers are expected to teach five hours a day, plan for one hour and assess work for one hour and contact parents whenever they have time.
Yes teachers are paid for only 6 hours a day but even if you compensated them the other 2-3 hours you still don’t solve the problem of a serious lack of planning time. The ratio for planning and instruction is .2hours to one hour, rather than 1 to 1.
Admin are routinely released form their school sites to plan the life of their schools. Classrooms teachers who are the heart of every school and directly shape the minds of our youth should be afforded similar days to develop innovative curriculum. LAUSD parents who complain about the lack of innovation by teachers will be pleased by the innovation that comes from giving teachers time to plan. Currently a very scant budget is allocating for release time for teachers to attend trainings but again these are not connected to the daily life of the classroom and so are largely useless in the middle of the school year. It is much more efficient to fund planning time for teachers during the school year and fund trainings during summer and winter breaks.
CORE demands planning time for classroom teachers!
Failed salary point model.
Many veteran LAUSD teachers have not “climbed up” the salary scale by taking extra course work. This is not a good way for to ensure teacher growth and quality. Other professions like doctors, lawyers, engineers, managers etc. are required to take classes and are compensated immediately for the them. Most often it is built into their work life. Our salary point model is way to arbitrary and decentralized. The system actually works against committed teachers who would rather focus their energy on their classroom than on a random assortment of classes often offered on weekends or evenings when they need to re energize for their daily work. Also, single mothers, people with families or those with less means struggle to afford the classes. Sometimes people are denied the salary points by the district. Lastly teachers who reach the top of the scale have no financial incentive to continue to take classes yet they still need to grow with the profession.
It would be much better for trainings to be mandatory, compensated and built into the work life of teachers. This would ensure everyone is being trained equally and compensated fairly as they move through their career.
CORE demands the centralizing of teacher training and the abolishing of the archaic salary point system.
Teaching is not a job anyone can do on their own. It takes collaboration between teachers, between admin and teachers and regular training on the best educational science. Allowing time for teachers to work together during the workday developing techniques and deepening lessons improves practice because the teachers are profiting from one another's knowledge and skill.
Core demands more time during the workday for teacher collaboration including peer observations.
The origin of the term principal is the “principal teacher”. Administrators who oversee instruction (which should be all of them) have to be held to a higher standard of expert in instruction. Admin have to be instructional partners working with teachers to maximize student engagement by regularly modeling best practices, and having discussions with teachers about what good teaching is. Classroom visits by themselves do very little to develop instruction. Technology allows principals to make webinars of best practices for their staff. At department meeting principals should be required to model instruction and in between have regular discussions with teachers about good instruction.
CORE demands principal's be instructional partners!
Return of paid sabbaticals.
This would allow educators time to engage in deep research around their practice. When teachers returns from sabbatical they are transformed by their research and are able to share that expertise with others thus uplifting the profession. It is often this teacher inquiry that develops the science of teaching to new levels. A school community lacking this type of teacher researchers will become stagnant and fall behind the leading models of education. Sabbaticals are an essential investment to make in workers who are willing and able to carry such research through. These were from a time when LAUSD took more seriously their role as supporters of great public education.
CORE demands the return of paid sabbaticals!