Feb. 3, 2014
By Tara Cavanaugh
Last Monday, AAPS middle and high school students had an end-of-semester break after exams. They also had Tuesday off, along with AAPS elementary students.
Those days were scheduled professional development (PD) days for AAPS staff. So although Tuesday was the coldest day of the year so far, district staff made the frigid trip to various AAPS schools for PD activities.
So what is a professional development day, and why does the district have them?
Teachers are required to log in hours of professional development to maintain their teaching licenses. PD helps them stay up-to-date on the latest teaching strategies, requirements and technologies. At AAPS, PD hours are worked into the school calendar as part of teachers’ and staff’s union contracts.
The PD days occur twice per school year, in August and January. August’s two PD days before the school year begins usually instruct all staff in two or three topics, whereas January PD looks like a conference: teachers and staff can host and attend a variety of sessions unique to their interests and instructional needs. This year’s sessions covered topics such as ELL strategies, autism spectrum disorder and digital publishing.
The sessions fell into three overarching themes: response to data, cross curricular integration and alignment to new standards, said Rose Marie Callahan, the district’s K-5 curriculum coordinator.
During the PD days the district was pleased to have the assistance of professors from the University of Michigan School of Education, such as Michelle Madden and Nell Duke, Callahan added.