When the 2015-2016 school year begins in August, there will be a few differences in the school calendar – one major difference being the addition of five professional development days for district staff.

While August is still six months away, district administrators are already seeing how important these days will be. Professional development is an area that Deputy Superintendent for Academics Dr. Wanda H. Legrand is anticipating will be brought up in Strategic Plan Teaching and Learning Community Meetings starting this month.

Teaching and Learning is one of three goal areas for which meetings will be conducted. Family and Community and Efficient Operations are the other two.

“Teacher professional development creates engaging teachers, in turn creating engaging classes for our students,” Legrand said. “We will be able to tackle critical professional development topics. Right now our time with teachers is limited, and we can’t develop teachers in the most meaningful ways with just snippets of time.”

Charles W. Fairbanks School 105 Principal Paula Peterson is looking forward to using the professional development days to dive deeper into school data with her staff, making instructional changes as necessary.

“Professional development is vital to school-wide improvement and is part of the foundation for a positive school culture,” Peterson said. “Site-based professional development would be a great way to address gaps and areas of need at the school level that would ultimately result in better instruction and learning outcomes for students.”

Tammy Bowman, IPS Curriculum Officer, also hopes that professional development initiatives are addressed in strategic plan conversations.

“Teaching and Learning is important to the strategic plan as it is the foundation of our purpose– ensuring that all students graduate being college and career ready,” Bowman said.

For students to be prepared for their future endeavors, their teachers need adequate training.

IPS Teacher of Year Tina Ahlgren agrees professional development should be an integral part of the Teaching and Learning portion of the strategic plan and that using our own outstanding educators as trainers is just one way to develop staff.

“We have a treasure trove of amazing educators within IPS that bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to help develop our staff from within,” Ahlgren said. “Teachers providing professional development would allow for additional leadership roles for teachers in search of their own professional growth.”

“We want to provide the best education for our students and lead teachers to be the best,” Legrand said. “The core of our business is teaching and learning.”

To participate in the drafting of the Teaching and Learning goal area of the IPS Strategic Plan, please RSVP here to attend a community meeting on February 18 or February 19, 2015.