5340 Procedure – Instructional Professional Development

Professional development in the Bellingham School District is designed to support increased student learning. Increases in student learning are more likely to occur when staff have support for developing understandings about effective instruction. The policy makes clear that, in order to develop understandings about effective instruction, professional development needs to “focus on individual, collegial, and organizational improvement.” The policy also makes clear that the opportunities for such development need to be embedded into the daily work of all members of the organization. Ongoing professional development structures in the Bellingham School District include Individual Staff Development (ISD), Mentor Program, Small Group Staff Development, and Whole Group Staff Development.

I.          Individual Staff Development (ISD)

Individual support is provided through the contract with the Bellingham Education Association for Individual Staff Development (ISD) time. Teachers and administrators should refer to the Collective Bargaining Agreement for details regarding the support for personal inservice. (See Article VIII, Section 3C.)

1.      Process for Individual Staff Development

Each school will create a structure for support, based on teacher needs and the school’s strategic plan, that will be approved by the principal. The structure needs to make clear:

  • How staff will be supported through intensive, on-going, in-depth support,
    • How all staff will be involved in individual, small group, and whole group professional development opportunities

2.      Role of the Administrator in Individual Staff Development

Administrators will be involved in individual staff development in a variety of ways. As supervisors, they will approve professional goals and the use of ISD funds. They will work with Mentors in their support for new staff. The principal will also work with staff to create small group and whole group opportunities that will support the professional development needs of the staff of that building or program.

II.        Mentor Program

1.      Process for Mentor Program

The Mentor Program will provide support for new teachers, defined by the state as those with less than 90 days contracted teaching, including any experience as a substitute. The District may also provide support to teachers with more experience than the 90 day maximum through the use of district or grant resources. The Mentor Program will include paid stipends for mentors and mentees, specific training to support both mentors and new teachers, and a structure for supporting new teachers. Teachers should refer to the Mentor Guidelines for specific program information.

2.      Role of the Administrator in the Mentor Program

The Administrator works with their new teachers to ensure the training, support, and acceptance of the new teacher into the local school and its culture occurs.  Administrators should refer to the Mentor Guidelines for specific program information.

III.       Small Group Professional Development

The District will create a structure to support individual staff development through participation in small group professional learning opportunities, e.g. Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), lesson study, or critical friends groups. This form of staff development means “working with” colleagues to support their learning. “Working with” colleagues may include, but not be limited to, interacting with other staff in collaborative teams with a common focus, analyzing student work or data, participating in collective inquiry, and engaging in active learning and reflection. All teachers are expected to identify personal professional goals each year that support the school and district strategic plans. Teachers small group opportunities will focus their work, using the reflective process, to change and improve their daily professional practice and improve student learning.

1.      Process for Small Group Professional Development

Small group professional development opportunities will be structured to provide different levels of support to teachers in the building, based on needs.  A primary goal of small group professional development is the implementation of powerful teaching and learning strategies to improve student learning and instructional practices.

2.      Role of Administrator in Small Group Professional Development

The administrator is involved in small group professional development in significant areas.  Participation in small groups allow opportunities for several activities or issues to be dealt with simultaneously. The principal may participate as a member of a small group. S/he will organize a process by which to connect with each group regularly to determine if needs are changing or adjustments are required. The principal will monitor the use of resources to support staff development needs, including time and a variety of funding sources. The principal/program director will also determine the effectiveness of any small group activities using student learning as evidence.

IV. Whole Group Staff Development

It is critical for the success of the organization that some aspects of our work be known and understood by all members. Everyone needs foundational knowledge and skills, a clear understanding of the school and district goals, and an opportunity to share in the shaping and development of school and program goals that align with district goals. This is best accomplished through whole group activities where the entire faculty or program staff work and learn together.

1.      Process for Whole Group Staff Development

Whole group activities are guided by and aligned with the district’s and school’s strategic plan goals and are shaped by the needs of the site or program.

  • Programs, such as Title I and Special Education, have additional resources that must be allocated from their categorical funding to support professional development of program staff. Each program will create a plan for how such resources are allocated and spent. The plan will be shared on an annual basis with all staff connected with that program.
  • Professional development activities will be evaluated for effectiveness by each program/school on an annual basis. Evaluation data will be used to create plans for the activities for the following year.

2.      Role of Administrator in Whole Group Professional Development

The principal will work with the entire staff or a subcommittee to develop a plan to address whole school staff development needs. The plan will be based on the needs assessment completed and regularly updated as part of the strategic plan. The principal will monitor the use of resources to support staff development needs, including time and funds. The principal/program director will also determine the effectiveness of any whole group activities using student learning as evidence.


Adopted: 04/02/02; 06/22/07
Revised: 02/26/09