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Articles: Professional Development

Learning through problem-solving promotes deep, coherent mathematics understanding. It is a critical tool for creating a highly effective learning environment for students. Through the use of strong routines, students learn how to take an active role in reasoning and sensemaking. Active learning will help students understand new mathematical concepts and relationships as they progress in their school careers.

Lisa Gonzales is interim superintendent in the Lakeside Joint School District. Charles Young is superintendent in the Benicia USD.

The definition of an effective teacher remains in flux, and the evaluation process has morphed into numerous different assessments and observations. Fortunately, with the advent of new technologies, opportunities abound to broaden the evaluation process and to truly focus on teacher growth.

In Monroe County School District in Mississippi, the superintendent is elected. But the board, above, has a working document in place, which means whoever is elected immediately becomes familiar with the district’s past work and future direction—and is ready to lead.

In many school districts today, hiring practices for administrative leaders often consist of “replacement filling”—or, waiting for a position to open up before searching for candidates. But a successful succession often requires more proactive planning.

Serious shortages in math, science and special education teachers have been reported in more than 40 states, and more than 30 states are seeing serious shortages for ELL teachers. The biggest shortages are in schools that serve low-income and minority students.

NAVIGATING REFERRALS—Chris Walker, principal of Central High at Muncie Community Schools, works with Samantha Ivy, a family navigator at the school. Navigators in part handle referrals and intakes for students and families who may need behavioral health services, based on an assessment from a local mental health agency.

Here are three approaches to social-emotional learning

Washoe County Schools, Nevada

District social-emotional learning standards address five crucial competencies—self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and decision-making.

The district has defined indicators for development in each area, such as “demonstrates knowledge of personal strengths, challenges and potential.”

Collaborative work: Grandview Elementary School teachers sit in on a professional development workshop on fluency. The Washington district’s homegrown curriculum is created by district coaches and consultants, along with teacher input.

When only 13 percent of sophomores at the Grandview School District in Washington passed the state math exams six years ago, administrators decided to develop their own curriculum.

Paul S. Haughey is principal of Millville Elementary School in the Blackstone-Millville Regional School District in Massachusetts.

Elementary schools differ in many ways—even within the same district—but new principals can follow leadership practices in keeping the focus on teaching and learning every school day.

Bill Siegel is an Academy Award-nominated and Emmy winning documentary filmmaker and vice president of School Programs for the Great Books Foundation, a Chicago-based nonprofit educational organization.

Inquiry-based learning means asking questions that demand students use evidence from the text to support their thinking. It means challenging students to respond to the differing ideas of their classmates. And it means pushing students to further their own thinking.

A new survey says "increasing knowledge"—rather than increasing salary—motivates teachers to take online professional development. (Gettyimages.com: Dragan Radojevic)

Most educators are enrolling in online professional learning courses. The most common areas are classroom and behavior management, education software training and digital device training.

NYC Men Teach aims to add 1,000 black, Latino and Asian men to the city’s teaching rosters by 2018. (Photo: Gettyimages.com/digital vision)

Research suggests a diverse teaching force can improve students’ learning experiences. That’s the goal of a three-year, $16 million program called NYC Men Teach, designed to add 1,000 black, Latino and Asian men to the city’s teaching rosters by 2018.

Click to enlarge: Facebook is the most popular platform among teachers while school and district administrators prefer Twitter. (Source: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company)

Deeper family engagement and PD are among the top priorities for educators, according to the second annual Educator Confidence Report from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Fifty-eight percent of the more than 1,000 educators surveyed desire more parent and family engagement while 84 percent spend their own money on professional learning opportunities.

Teacher and employee engagement has been found to be a crucial component in the success of a school district, by positively impacting student achievement, improving employee retention and reducing turnover. But recent surveys have found that a large percentage of teachers report that they are not emotionally connected with their workplaces, and they were the least likely of all professionals surveyed to say that they felt their opinions mattered or to describe their workplace as an open and trusting environment.
How can district leaders address this common challenge?

Caroline Lewis spent 22 years as a science teacher and school principal.

Teaching is losing its magic. Every year, the profession loses some of our most effective colleagues prematurely. Moreover, we fail to attract enough college graduates who have the talent and passion for teaching.

Sarah Brown Wessling is an author and laureate emeritus for the nonprofit Teaching Channel.

Many teachers find themselves isolated in classrooms without the right training or support. Others receive only one or two afternoons of PD per year. The need for more effective professional development for teachers is especially important right now, with new academic standards being introduced across the country.

Learning to lead: Teachers met in New York City in June to build initiatives they designed to improve their schools.

Teachers who have taken on school leadership roles across New York state gathered this past June for the first time to refine initiatives designed to improve their schools.

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