AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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Implement Plan

Implementing a school improvement plan can be challenging work and may involve many things, such as adopting new policies, procedures, reporting methods, professional development, data collection and analysis, etc. It is important that the school improvement team continue to revisit their plan and performance indicators to ensure they remain focused on their goals. A key factor in implementing a successful school reform plan is ensuring that staff receive the professional development they need.

Examples of places engaged in effective professional development

The Center for School Improvement Leadership Institute 2007(previously known as AFT's Institute for Effective Leadership for Academic Achievement)
More than 150 teams of teachers, administrators and higher educators representing labor-management partnerships from 17 school districts completed the AFT's 2007 Institute for Effective Leadership for Academic Achievement. Presented in collaboration with the UFT Teacher Center in New York City, this annual training opportunity helped participants acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to examine the processes that support school improvement efforts. The AFT, UFT, and participating school districts and local affiliates provided financial support for participants to attend.

Professional Development in Palm Beach County, Florida
The Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association (CTA), in collaboration with the Palm Beach County School District, provided union-sponsored professional development to more than 400 teachers in July 2006. In the weeks before school started, teachers from the district's most challenging schools participated in AFT's ER&D Course, Foundations of Effective Teaching. These schools provide students with a longer school day and year, and allow teachers to earn a salary differential with an increased professional development responsibility. Through the course taught by facilitators from CTA, the Florida Education Association, and the AFT, the teachers completed part of their professional learning requirement and will take additional ER&D reading courses during professional development days throughout the year. Teachers in these schools will complete ER&D Instructional Strategies the week before the 2007-2008 school year begins.

As a result of CTA's leadership and expertise in the area of professional development, the union negotiated $40,000 in district funding for this program that was negotiated and formalized in a memorandum of understanding between the union and the district. This training is a result of a strong labor-management collaboration reflecting the local union's commitment to the goals of the ER&D Program: increasing members' skills and improving schools.

ER&D in Madison, Illinois
Madison School District #11 agreed to fund an extensive ER&D Program for the district's teachers as a result of a collaborative effort between the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) and the Madison School District. The district agreed to provide the facilities and funding necessary to hold four ER&D courses during the 2006-2007 school year. After working with the local president and the IFT, the Madison school board and the district's superintendent committed approximately $55,000 of district funds to support this program. The agreement to provide union-sponsored professional development was developed during the collective bargaining process as a solution to problems that members of the local were experiencing in the classroom.

The result of work by the IFT Field Services Director and State Educational Issues Director, along with the superintendent of schools, was a professional development plan to support teachers and a collective bargaining agreement providing them with a stipend or college credits at the successful completion of each course. The IFT provided ER&D Trainers from neighboring locals to lead the sessions. The program will be evaluated; IFT staff, local union leadership, and district administration will examine the effects of the training on classroom environments.

Thinking Mathematics in the Kanawha County Schools, West Virginia
The Kanawha County Schools funded an AFT Thinking Mathematics training of trainers for the district's fourth-through sixth-grade teachers. The school district was interested in research-based instructional strategies that would ultimately improve student achievement. The West Virginia Federation of Teachers provided the necessary logistical arrangements for this collaborative training.

Resources 

AFT's Professional Development Web resources

AFT Resolution: Recruiting and Retaining Teachers in Hard-to-Staff Schools (2007)

A Shared Responsibility: Staffing All High-Poverty, Low-Performing Schools with Effective Teachers and Administrators. A Framework for Action
Learning First's research-based framework provides a systemic set of actions to address the needs of students in high-poverty, low-performing schools who are less likely than their more affluent peers to attend schools staffed by the most qualified teachers, administrators and other school staff. Learning First Alliance (2005).

High Quality Professional Development
This article provides practical, hands-on ideas on finding time for professional development, making professional development meaningful and effective, and some best practices in the area of professional development. Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory (NWREL) (1998).