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April 15, 2014

Norman teachers excited about professional development

NORMAN — Norman Public Schools’ teachers are focused on students and want to take advantage of professional development, Beth Spears, director of Staff Development and Student Achievement, said was the overall response teachers had to a recent District Staff Development Survey.

Spears presented a report of survey results to Norman Public Schools’ Board of Education at a regular meeting Monday night.

“Our teachers believe that professional learning must engage each educator in timely, high-quality learning that meets his or her particular needs,” Spears said. “And that the primary purpose of professional learning is for educators to develop the knowledge, skills, practices and dispositions they need to help students perform at a higher level.”

Six hundred and seventeen certified staff took part in the survey from all levels of NPS. Spears said through the survey, the district learned that all levels are interested in literacy strategies in content areas, effective professional learning communities and more in-classroom examples of the Marzano Model. Teachers at the secondary level also requested more training for Achieve 3000.

Teachers reported that challenges to attending professional development include time, money, scheduling and prepping for a substitute.

NPS Superintendent Dr. Joe Siano said finding time for professional development and keeping teachers in the classroom was a balancing act, but professional development would always be a priority to a community that values education.

“We can always use more time for professional development, but the next best thing is targeted development with a payoff for kids,” Siano said. “Schools districts that don’t find ways for teachers to get new information and tools may have teachers in the classroom more, but they are going backwards in terms of finding what works.”

The survey asked teachers to report their most positive, impactful professional development experience, Spears said, to which the following were listed most often: Get Fit, Summer AP Institute, Nuts & Bolts, High Schools That Work, From L to J, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and the Oklahoma Writing Project.

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