Today is our first meeting of the year with school professional development representatives from all West Vancouver schools. This group of volunteer teachers meet on a regular basis to share their successes and challenges and help to evolve our very impressive model. This group is chaired by the West Vancouver Teachers Association (WVTA), Professional Development Co-Chairs, Karen Harmatuk and Sue Elliot.
Here is a one page overview of the Professional Development model in West Vancouver (scroll on the right to see the entire document):
Our Professional Development Model, or the “Collaborative Model” as it is often described, helps guide all of our work in the district. Our core values genuinely guide the work:
•1. Our primary learning focus is on improving student learning
•2. We work collaboratively on district, school and team goals because teaching is too difficult to do alone
•3. Our work is supported by current research
The model is built around our students and improving student learning. It also makes it very clear the best learning is collaborative. I was reminded of the power of collaboration this past week as “Learning Teams” from Pauline Johnson, West Bay, Cypress Park, Irwin Park and Ridgeview spent a morning together looking at digital literacy.
Our professional learning model in West Vancouver is really quite simple, but important to always come back to as a guide. As district, school, or individual professional development grows, it is important to ensure these three strands are continually supported.
Every year we look at “how we can strengthen the collaborative model.” The model is messy – but, so is good learning. With all the talk about personalized learning for students, that is really at the heart of what we are trying to do with the adults learning in our district. It doesn’t mean that every staff member has an individual, unique plan, but rather they have a personalized plan that blends together district, school and individual needs.
For all of our educators, it starts with our professional growth program. The description from 15 years ago, and the purpose of teacher growth plans, is still very relevant today:
The purpose of the Professional Growth Program is to support the professional growth of teachers for the continuous development of instructional practices in order to enhance student learning in West Vancouver.
Like all the work we do either as individuals, collaborative learning teams, schools, or as a district, at its core is the improvement of our students’ learning.