An investment in our teachers is an investment in student learning
27 april, 2016
We believe that our teachers are the #1 key to helping our students succeed.
Therefore, Viktor Rydberg Schools have made a purposeful choice to invest in the professional development of all of our teachers using a three-year cycle.
In addition to weekly conferences where professional development is embedded in our ongoing work and our annual VR Workshops where teachers from all 5 schools share their best practices with each other. We use a three-year plan to ensure continual pedagogical development within our organization.
With this approach, we hope to encourage our individual teachers, our teacher teams and our staff as a whole to challenge themselves to find inspiration, improve their craft and study important trends and best practices in education – all with the end goal of improving student learning. Each year, we as a staff develop annual goals. Important aspects of our school culture and learning environments that we want to focus on. Then, based on these goals, each teacher, together with their supervisor, identify personal goals.
Everyone accepts the responsibility to actively learn what they can and generously share with others.
We divide our professional development into three levels. Based on the VR values and competence profile of what we believe a good teacher should be able to do, all staff members participate in a self-reflection process that leads them to identify areas for further development.
In year 1 of the cycle, teachers are encouraged to focus on their individual development areas. In year 2 of the cycle, teacher teams are encouraged to diagnose what aspects of student learning within their subject need further attention. Then, together they decide what they would like to study and improve to better align student results with our annual goals. In year 3 of the cycle, we, as a whole staff, focus on our school-wide goals together.
We believe that by building in choice as to ”what” our teachers want to focus on, as well as ”how” they wish to accomplish their goals offers an efficient and effective approach to professional development.
Right now, we are in year 2 of our current cycle. Here is a brief example about one part of the English team’s professional development work last week:
We have just returned from a really good team-building trip to London and we are all full of Shakespearian inspiration after having seen a fantastic performance ofA Winter´s Tale at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, which is the indoor theatre that forms part of Shakespeare´s Globe. We were all in agreement that this was one of the best Shakespeare performances any of us have ever seen, and that our trip to London would have been worthwhile for that alone.However, we were also able to link up with a teacher from the Connaught School in Leytonstone to discuss samples of written work from our students at the English 6 and 7 levels. It was really good to get another perspective on the samples taken from VRG and to discuss similarities and differences in our pedagogical approaches within two such different working environments.It was also good to have time to talk in a more relaxed setting about activities in the classroom, and to build on ideas that each of us had.Our trip was a lovely mixture of cultural input, work-related discussions and socializing, finishing up with a walk in Kensington Gardens earlier today …A rewarding time was had by all and we have returned with renewed energy that I believe will propel our already strong department forward. Thanks to VRG for making this possible!
Other examples of professional development this year: cross-curricular study of motivation in the classroom – comparing Swedish and Mathematics, participation in national conferences to both present and learn from colleagues around Sweden, leadership training, 3D printing as an assessment tool, building a learning platform for teachers to share resources, group dynamics, relational pedagogy, blended learning, visiting schools in New York, London, Belgrad and more. It is inspiring to hear of the teams’ projects.
Each team presents their ideas for the other teams. The discussions after the presentations are often the best ROI (return on investment).
I am confident that this is a great investment for our students.