Professional Learning 

Days Creek Charter School is fortunate to have been one of three Douglas County School Districts to be selected to participate in a rigorous process to examine how we deliver professional learning and to plan ways to better engage our faculty in designing and participating in quality professional learning that has positive impacts on student achievement.

Over the last four months, Cathy Knapp, Ron Dunn, Jesse Jackson, David Hunt and Superintendent, Dr. Mark Angle attended four, full-day trainings (once per month) hosted by the Ford Family Foundation and provided at no-cost to the district by the Chalkboard Project.  Monthly, educators from the Portland area spent the day in Roseburg providing content and facilitating activities to assist us with determining ways to improve professional learning in our district.
Elkton SD and Roseburg SD were also participants, and opportunities were provided at each session for collaboration and learning across districts.  


At the first session, we spent time learning about the PROCESS we would use to engage in this work: improvement science.  We spent time READING and RESEARCHING the issues with current professional learning (PL).  We also learned about promising practices for improving the quality and implementation of professional learning.  We articulated and examined our core beliefs.  (As an unexpected outreach of this work, the Superintendent engaged the faculty and boards to refine and publish those Core Beliefs [see attachment], having cross-referenced them with the District Educational Philosophy, the Charter Board’s mission/vision and goals, and the Superintendent’s ‘Give Me Five’ initiative).


We also identified our Problem of Practice (PoP) at the first session: "In Days Creek there isn't always growth/change in educator practice as a result of/due to professional learning." The causes that we attributed to this problem included: time, capacity, mindset, resources, differentiation, implementation, and vision of outcome.


Our “homework” following that first session was to gather empathy data from the faculty to determine their perceptions of quality professional learning. We did this through an individual interview process in which we asked a series of questions about best and worst experiences faculty have had with professional learning.


At the second session, we spent time analyzing our interview data and determining what qualities our faculty most value in professional learning.  What we discovered is that our faculty desires PL that meets their individual needs, has immediate application, and includes follow-up for implementation.  The ability to collaborate also was frequently mentioned.


Next, we had to identify barriers to meeting the expectations for professional learning that teachers had identified.  We realized that “competing interests with competing outcomes” is an issue for us.  By this, we mean that even though everyone has good intentions, we sometimes are pursuing separate agendas based on expectations of one or both boards, state requirements, administrative goals, or teacher interests.  Having everyone on the same page and focused on a common theme would be in the best interest of all.   


At the second session, the improvement science steps used were: mapping the system (looking at the system from all perspectives) which is what led us to the competing interests/competing outcomes conclusion.  At the end of the session an aim statement was written, by the group that stated:  “All teachers in Days Creek will have more opportunities to engage in relevant and collaborative PL.”


This raised several key questions:


--How do we provide the type of professional learning our educators value?




--How do we know that the PL educators desire will be tied to our core beliefs, vision/mission, and priorities?




--How do we overcome the barriers to implementation?

At the third session, the group completed activities that led us to develop the following theory of change:


If teachers are provided opportunities to deepen their learning of the teaching practice standards and time to complete self-assessments and have structured conversations with peers then:


·        Teachers will have a clearer understanding (way to articulate) of their needs and areas of strengths and weaknesses

·        There will be more reliable data from self-assessments

·        Teachers will be more informed about teaching practice rubric

·        There will be stronger calibration of teaching practice among teachers (for example what does it look like to be proficient in student engagement)

·        There will be a stronger alignment of professional learning and teaching practice


At the fourth and final session, the team decided that one way to accomplish a unified theme of professional learning (which is tied to our core beliefs AND that could be differentiated by teacher need), would be to focus on the “Delivery of Instruction” domain of our teacher evaluation program.

 To this end, these are the next steps we have proposed:

--Our coach from Chalkboard will lead a PL with faculty at our March PLC to ensure all teachers have a common knowledge and language of strong instruction of the indicators around Domain 3 (Delivery of Instruction) and that there is an understanding of the levels by which the indicators are measured

--Faculty will select (based on a self-assessment) ONE indicator on which to focus their PL

------Depending on self-selections, there may be one common, school-wide indicator OR one indicator for elementary and a different one for secondary OR several different indicators across the school


--Using funding from Chalkboard, substitutes will be hired to provide release time for teachers to observe instruction and provide feedback to their colleagues who have selected the same indicator (for example, two teachers who are both working on “Engagement” would observe one another and then have a conversation about the level of student engagement and suggest ways to work toward continuous improvement and ways to support one another, thus providing both immediate application and collaboration)


--District and individual PL plans for 2017-18 may be created based on this feedback (thus PL that meets the needs of the individual teacher) and could include, but is not limited to:

·       District provided

·       ESD sponsored

·       Self-selected

·       PLCs

·       Committee work

·       Collaboration (within or across districts [using IRIS Connects])

·       College coursework


Improvement science requires a process known as PDSA...Plan, Do, Study, Act

After each phase of implementation, the team (including our coach provided by Chalkboard Project) will examine the outcomes of our work, and modify as necessary to ensure continuous improvement of both the process by which we identify professional learning opportunities and the outcomes as they relate to improved student outcomes.




The Board believes:

1. The cornerstone of a free society is the education of its people;

2. We must live with and respect different cultures of the world;

3. Each person is unique and should be treated with respect and dignity;

4. The community and the family must share the responsibility of education with the schools;

5. The schools should be a safe, warm learning environment;

6. All students can learn if given the opportunity and have the desire to learn;

7. We must promote in our students that:

a. We have responsibilities for the global environment;

b. Learning is a lifelong process;

c. We must develop health and safety habits;

d. We must be responsible for our decisions and actions;

e. We need to develop an aesthetic appreciation of the world;

f. We have citizenship responsibilities in our society.


The Days Creek Charter School mission is to provide an outstanding 21st Century education in a small, rural school environment that fosters life-long learners, responsible citizens, and fulfilled potential.

We envision a school characterized by:

· Rigorous academics

· An enriched program of electives

· Practical application of skills through on and off-site learning activities

· Preparation for postsecondary education and/or career development including skills of initiative and independence

· Mentorship of a caring and supportive faculty

· Curriculum options with a focus on natural resources

· Service to the community


We believe student learning is the number one priority of schools and is a shared obligation of educators, students, parents, and community.  We believe student learning needs to be informed by multiple data measures and motivated by co-curricular and extracurricular activities.  

We believe effective educators are intrinsically motivated, relationship focused, data driven individuals, who lead by example and know their students and value their unique stories.

We believe teacher leadership is goal-oriented with a willingness to serve others and a desire to understand purpose beyond self.

We believe professional learning must be relevant, timely, ongoing, and focused in order to be meaningful to educators and to improve student learning.


Attendance | Attitude | Academics | Athletics | Activities
Posted by Dr. Mark Angle On 07 February, 2017 at 8:55 AM  

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