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District Strategic Plans and Professional Development

District Strategic Plans and Professional Development


In this lesson, students will explore how a district strategic plan, site-based and individual professional development should be analyzed for application with Knowles Six Assumptions of Adult Learning.

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Video Transcription

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Hello there, and welcome to this lesson called District Strategic Plans and Professional Development. As we continue to grow as educators, it's important to understand the relationship between district strategic plans, site based management, and individual professional development plans. In this, and in future lessons, we'll look at all of this, as well as how it aligns with Knowles' six assumptions of adult learning.

In many organizations, when professionals part ways, they cite the reason as philosophical differences. We were recently hiring new teachers. And I sat on the interview committee. As I listened to the applicants answer the same questions over and over again, I began to pick up on certain things.

Occasionally a little bell would go off in my head that would flash a warning sign. Uh oh, that's not going to work here. That told me that maybe that individual wasn't on the same page as our school or district's philosophy. When an organization hires someone, it's usually with the intent of growing them, and keeping them around for a while. If you're having philosophical differences, that is very unlikely.

We know that it's important that your district strategic plans are connected to your site based plans and initiatives. Likewise, alignment between those site based goals and plans to one's individual professional develop plan is just as important. However, when developing a personal professional development plan, you must do so with adult learning theories in mind. In particular, Knowles' six assumptions of adult learning. From early planning, to design, to the implementation stage, teachers need to recognize that there's a connection between professional learning and classroom practice to implementing the six assumptions.

Here's what this means. With the help of the school board of education, the school committee, and engaged stakeholders, staff and community members, a district will put together a strategic plan that is considered a road map. Keep in mind when these factions get together, there's always the potential for controversy. Just remember to follow your established norms and focus on the goal. The purpose of this plan is to provide direction for the schools in the district that will ultimately lead to reaching goals and improving student achievement.

Once the entire process is complete, the ball is in the school's court to make sure initiatives are followed. As a result of this work, desired outcomes for student achievement are formulated and specified. These goals generally focus on instructional strategies. At this point, whatever resources are needed are outlined. Often times that means professional development.

A feature unique to site based management is autonomy. However, school improvement plans and goals should be also aligned to the vision, mission and goals of the district. An individual professional development plan, also known as a professional growth or individual growth plan, is really just another piece of the bigger picture. But all the pieces are aligned and connected to one another.

We hear the phrase lifelong learner tossed around constantly. We use it because that's what we want our students to become. It's much easier for adults to continue learning if we have a better understanding of adult learning theories. By looking at professional development with a critical eye, teachers will be able to check for alignment of professional learning to their classroom practice. Although there is no single theory of learning that can be universal, here are three theories of adult learning that are relevant in this course.

The first is andragogy. This theory is based on six key assumptions about adult learning, and knowing them will benefit you greatly. As teachers work on developing professional development, it's critical to check for alignment of these assumptions. Next is self-directed learning. If you are self-motivated, this might be for you. As the title indicates, it's a process in which individuals take on the initiative of planning, undertaking and evaluating their own learning. Finally is transformational learning, which results in a shift of consciousness that ultimately changes the way an individual views themselves and the world around them.

So it's time to go ahead and summarize this lesson. We opened by talking about alignment and connection of goals, and continued on to the work of district level teams, which filters down to schools, school based teams and ultimately individuals. Finally, we introduced three adult learning theories, and how knowing them will help to formulate quality, professional development.

And now for today's food for thought. Make a list of the many teams in your school or organization. Do their goals and purpose align? As you reflect on how this new information can be applied, you may want to explore the additional resources section that accompanies this video presentation. Here you'll find links to resources chosen to help you deepen your learning, and explore new ways to apply your newly acquired skill set. That's all for this lesson. We'll see you next time.

Notes on "District Strategic Plans and Professional Development"

(00:00-00:22) Intro

(00:23-00:59) On The Same Page

(01:00-01:53) Connections

(01:34-02:22) Strategic Plan

(02:23-02:44) Alignment

(02:45-03:12) Adult Learners

(03:13-03:49) Three Theories

(03:50-04:40) Summary/FFT

Additional Resources

District Leadership: Strategic Planning

The Broad Prize for Urban Education has evaluated strategic plans from districts across the country and has identified districts with exemplary aspects in their plans. The site includes links to the district strategic plans from these districts.

Deeper Learning Planning Guide 

This helpful guide will assist you in building a strategic plan that adheres to the tenets of Deeper Learning.