“You can’t lead what you don’t know,” says Crownhill Principal Jill Carlson. She believes that professional development is the key to student achievement, and leverages school and student data to support the professional growth of her staff. “We look at data continually to identify areas where teachers would benefit by professional development. In fact...they push each other relentlessly to the very edges of their expertise and then reach for more.”
Dedicated Time for PD Every Week
High quality professional development remains a major focus of Carlson’s priorities as it has been over the past seven years. Wednesday meetings are set aside for all staff members to gather as a single group. This meeting keeps communication lines open, and prompts discussion and interaction related to staff development. Every afternoon, teachers set aside time to build on what they learned during the Wednesday session and identify how a particular proficiency or instructional practice is affecting student performance.
Three times during the school year, Crownhill staff meet in vertical teams. These are critical sessions during which teachers make sure their skills and instructional/assessment strategies align from grade to grade. Each grade-level team takes two half-days to analyze data and lesson plans. The instructional coach and principal attend these meetings; they are partners in data review and planning activities.
Growth Opportunities & PD for All Staff
Professional development is not just for teachers at Crownhill Elementary. Certified employees, para-pros and volunteers are also on the training roster. This approach guarantees that every member of the Crownhill team aligns their attitude and skill set with the mission, vision and programming that constitute the unique, enriched learning environment that is Crownhill Elementary.
Here is a sample of the Bremerton School District’s professional development calendar for September. Take a look at the PD calendars for the full school year.
Limited funding for K-12 education has had an impact on Crownhill’s PD strategy. The workaround is a train-the-trainers model. Anyone trained on new curriculum, an instructional strategy or proficiency trains colleagues and supports integration of the new element into the classroom.
We Can Make the Connection
The advantages of professional development for instructional and classified staff are in clear evidence at Crownhill Elementary. This kind of coherent, sequenced strategy for professional development also surfaces as an important lever for success within the Nine Characteristics of High-Performing Schools. Even with constrained funding for PD, Jill Carlson sustains a vigorous program of training staff development — a commitment to meaningful PD that we can see play out in the academic achievement of every student at Crownhill Elementary.