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Spotswood Schools

Professional Development » Tier Two Programming - Refinement

Tier Two Programming - Refinement

T2 - PD Academy

The Spotswood School District hosts a voluntary, after school, in-house professional development academy for all staff known as the PDAcademy. The PDAcademy offers a vast array of curricular and instructional topics designed to support district personnel in their need to understand and succeed within the dynamic landscape of educational policy and practice as advanced by our nation, state and district. Embracing the power of the Professional Learning Community (PLC) model, the notion of “systematically harnessing the power of collective intelligence that already resides in the school to solve problems,” district staff will instruct and/or moderate applicable offerings (DuFour, 2004).

To limit scheduling conflicts, PDAcademy sessions will be offered on Mondays throughout the course of the year. While the Academy will not run on every Monday, multiple courses might be taught each Monday that the Academy is offered; staff are free to sign up for as many or as few sessions as desired. As each session is designed to be interactive, all offerings will be presented with a minimum and maximum enrollment on a first come, first serve basis.

T2 - In-Service Programming 

The primary purpose of professional development in an educational environment is to increase the effectiveness of all who are engaged in the teaching-learning process.  Each member of the professional community must develop and maximize his/her knowledge and skill, and is therefore expected to pursue and participate in those activities which will foster professional growth.


Educational organizations must provide a positive environment which encourages professional growth and establishes a culture that promotes engagement and commitment on the part of staff.  To this end, the Spotswood Public Schools goal of in-service programming is to offer professional development aligned with district, departmental, and building initiatives in order to foster continual growth of its staff with the primary purpose of betterment of students' learning experiences through increased effectiveness of teachers, specialists and administrators.

T2 - Focused Professional Learning Cohorts

In our desire to support PD that is understandable, approachable, and differentiated for the learning needs of educators, we are excited to present the idea of Reflective Practice as Personal Professional Development. Specifically, we have created 3 pathways for educators to gain approved district PD hours while guiding their own professional growth on their own time. These programs include: Focused Professional Learning Cohorts, Portfolio Reflection Groups, and Structured Independent Studies.


Focused Professional Learning Cohorts (FPLC) allow for groups of educators to engage in a regularly scheduled, active, collaborative discussion regarding a topic selected to enhance teaching and learning. In other words, a FPLC is a continuous process of learning and reflection, supported by colleagues, with an intention of getting things done.


Aspects of FPLCs include the idea that they are: group-oriented; voluntarily joined; operated by consensus; designed to energize and empower participants; able to develop their own culture; and, held in an environment conducive to learning and discussion. They are also scheduled to meet for a pre-defined period of time (i.e., a marking period, a school year) and need to meet regularly at a designated time (i.e., weekly, every Thursday at 3:00 p.m.). FPLCs are also outcome-oriented as they are structured around SMART Goals and need to produce useable classroom work product (content or activities).


Examples of FPLCs could include a book study (i.e., Grading Smarter, Not Harder by Myron Dueck); topic exploration (i.e., Socratic Seminar), instructional practice discussion (i.e., Using hands-on learning and higher-order thinking applications to guide the teaching of levers and pulleys in 5th grade), and/or classroom application projects (i.e., Using Google Classroom to facilitate a collaborative learning environment). Using the latter as ideas for FPLCs, all staff are welcome to develop an idea, develop a cohort, and apply.


Focused Professional Learning Cohorts, as with all Reflective Practice as Personal Professional Development programs, need to be submitted on our developed application form and pre-approved through the Office of the Director of Curriculum and Instruction in order to receive district PD hours (number to be determined during the approval process). The application form can be found below.

T2 - Structured Independent Studies

In our desire to support PD that is understandable, approachable, and differentiated for the learning needs of educators, we are excited to present the idea of Reflective Practice as Personal Professional Development. Specifically, we have created 3 pathways for educators to gain approved district PD hours while guiding their own professional growth on their own time. These programs include: Focused Professional Learning Cohorts, Portfolio Reflection Groups, and Structured Independent Studies.


Structured Independent Studies (SIS) give individual educators the opportunity to investigate, acquire, and apply the knowledge and skills essential to their instructional assignment. In other words, a SIS offers individuality and flexibility to the learning process, including choice of topic, setting, pacing, and learning style.


Aspects of SIS include the idea that they: are voluntarily initiated; allow for individualized pacing; allow for a focus on special interests and/or abilities; fosters learning in a non-traditional setting; encourages resourcefulness; and, facilitates active participation and ownership. SIS are also outcome-oriented as they are structured around SMART Goals and need to produce useable classroom work product (content or activities).


Examples of SIS’s could include enrolling in a Massive Open Online Course (i.e., Math is Everywhere: Applications of Finite Math by Tim Chartier available @ https://www.udemy.com/math-is-everywhere-applications-of-finite-math/ an independent book study (i.e., The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry by Bryan Sykes), topic exploration (i.e., rubric-based grading), instructional practice investigation (i.e., using professional magazines to increase and enhance content literacy), and/or classroom application projects (i.e., using a centers approach to investigate primary source documents). Using the latter as ideas for SIS’s, all staff are welcome to develop an idea and apply.


Structured Independent Studies, as with all Reflective Practice as Personal Professional Development programs, need to be submitted on our developed application form and pre-approved through the Office of the Assistant Superintendent in order to receive district PD hours (number to be determined during the approval process). The application form can be found below.

T2 - Portfolio Reflection Groups

In our desire to support PD that is understandable, approachable, and differentiated for the learning needs of educators, we are excited to present the idea of Reflective Practice as Personal Professional Development. Specifically, we have created 3 pathways for educators to gain approved district PD hours while guiding their own professional growth on their own time. These programs include: Focused Professional Learning Cohorts, Portfolio Reflection Groups, and Structured Independent Studies.


Portfolio Reflection Groups (PRG) allow for groups of educators to engage in a shared, documented dialogue revolving around classroom practice. Encompassing components of learning journals, teaching diaries, and professional development journals, PRG’s create a focused discussion, supported by colleagues, around classroom documents or work products.


Aspects of PRG include the idea that they are: group-oriented; voluntarily joined; focused by an identified work product; support teacher practice; and, are flexible in how they “meet”. PRG are outcome-oriented as they are focused on a work product and produce useable classroom documents.


Examples of PRG could include the review of course unit tests (i.e., aligning, increasing or refining higher-order questions, etc.); topic exploration (i.e., how to vary, differentiate learning centers), instructional practice discussion (i.e., aligning selected homework assignments to support research simulation tasks in ELA), and/or classroom application projects (i.e., identifying how a document can be utilized in all parts of the lesson design process within the social studies classroom). Using the latter as ideas for PRG, all staff are welcome to develop an idea, develop a cohort, and apply.


Portfolio Reflection Groups, as with all Reflective Practice as Personal Professional Development programs, need to be submitted on our developed application form and pre-approved through the Office of the Assistant Superintendent in order to receive district PD hours (number to be determined during the approval process). The application form can be found below.