Everyone is a learner at YIS. As such, our professional learning program is designed to support the learning of our faculty and staff, but, first and foremost, it aims to impact student learning. Professional Learning takes many forms here. There are formal events and activities, such as IB workshops, outside consultants visiting, scheduled PD days and and strategic meetings and committees. The learning can also be informal and inquiry based, responsive to the needs of the learners and the strengths of our teaching community. Most importantly, we seek to empower teachers in their learning journey.
What is professional learning at YIS?
Professional learning refers to the ongoing commitment to continuous and deliberate growth in the knowledge, skills, concepts, and dispositions that are strongly correlated with improving student learning. Our fundamental beliefs include the following:
- The primary goal of an effective professional learning program is to contribute to student learning through continual improvement of teaching and assessment strategies and practices.
- All teachers should seek professional learning opportunities, regardless of their experience or skill level.
- Professional learning is a career-long process.
- Professional learning encourages collaboration between colleagues.
- Professional learning is effective when driven by a teacher’s personal goals and interests and linked to student needs and school priorities.
- It is every teacher’s responsibility to keep abreast of current research to ensure that students are benefitting from best practice.
The Professional Growth Plan: Learning from Each Other
At YIS, we believe in the power of inquiry. Our Professional Growth Plan (PGP) is one way that teachers are encouraged to develop their practice through inquiry-based learning. The purpose of the PGP is to pursue a professional interest to enrich teaching and learning. This is achieved by creating shared-interest groups to engage in professional conversations. Every year, teachers self-identify an area of professional interest, with the only requirement being that their area of focus must have impact on student learning. In small groups of people with similar interests, teachers work for a year studying a topic, taking action, and reflecting on the impact of the PGP in their classroom. The areas of interest demonstrate the huge variety of interests and expertise of our teaching community. For instance, PGP groups in the past have focused on Making Thinking Visible, Blogging in the Classroom, Outdoor Education, Service, Design Thinking, Gaming, and Creativity, to name but a few.
Throughout the year, teachers engage with their area of interest in many ways. Knowing that inquiry can take time, several all-staff meetings are dedicated to PGP work. Teachers keep track of their learning in a record of learning, which can be as formal as a blog or as informal as thoughts kept in a notebook. We learn from each other, sharing resources, ideas and practices in conversations and planned meetings. If a teacher needs professional development to enhance their PGP, a personal professional development fund is there to make that happen. And teachers reflect, with time and support given for reflective listening and a shared school PGP blog. PGP is one of the key components of the YIS Professional Development Program. We believe strongly that teachers can grow by learning from each other, by pursuing a passion, and by being reflective practitioners. This has a significant impact on our students and our learning community as a whole.