Seeking opportunities to learn and grow, all APS teachers were recently offered a day of professional development. The learning sessions and workshops covered a variety of topics rooted in the district’s strategic objectives, which include the improving student achievement and the improvement of teacher and leader effectiveness.
Administrators set high goals for educators, prior to each professional learning session and teachers entered the workshops hoping to improve their capacity to provide differentiated instruction, understand the impact of student growth within their classrooms and align their lesson plans with the new Common Core Standards.
Topics varied from school to school and within clusters. Usher-Collier Heights teachers, for example, focused on Marzano’s instructional strategies while teachers throughout the North Cluster were offered workshops on the creation of common assessments.
Washington HIgh School’s English Language Arts session focused on student strengths and weaknesses in writing. The session began with a discussion on areas of improvement found in writing at the middle school level. Transitional phrases and supporting arguments were found to be a common problem in the middle school grades. Teachers worked in small groups to construct a persuasive essay. Using the information from the opening discussion, the facilitators were then able to focus on the use of transitional phrases and model how to build arguments and counterarguments when writing.
In the East Region, the Maynard Jackson Cluster turned their professional learning day into a convention. Every teacher and administrator in the Jackson Cluster, as well as district support staff gathered to share instructional goals and specific data from around the cluster. Math was a specific area of focus through all content areas and all grade levels.
At Grady High School, educators focused on examining and interpreting data that contributes to student growth. Student growth measures are a statistical method used to help educators measure a school’s impact on student academic growth rates from year to year. Simply put, student growth shows the impact teachers and schools have on students’ academic performances.
Teachers learned how achievement measures provide them with a snapshot of a student’s growth at a single point in time and how well those students perform against a standard. Growth measures provide a more complete, accurate picture of growth from year to year, including how much growth or gain a group of students make over time. By combining achievement and student growth information with other data sources, APS teachers will have a more robust, comprehensive picture of their impact on student learning.