One of the ways I develop my classroom culture in September is through the development of a class belief statement. As part of that process I usually show my students the Education Administration Miscellaneous Provisions Regulation 39(f), which states that teachers are responsible for ongoing professional development. This demonstrates that not only do I consider myself to be a learner, the government expects me to be one. Professional learning/professional development in Border Land involves various groups and funds – here is an outline of the current support structure for teacher learning in our Division.
Joint PD Committee
The Border Land Joint PD Committee exists because of a clause in our collective agreement. According to that clause the committee is made up of the BLTA PD Committee and two Divisional representatives (the superintendent and assistant superintendent) and is chaired by the BLTA PD chair. The committee’s primary responsibilities are to plan Divisional PD days and to allocate funds for site and individual PD.
The Division received $92 262 from the province for teacher professional development based on their budget for 2015-16 that the Division submitted last Spring. That provincial money goes to the Border Land Joint Professional Development Committee budget. The BLTA contributed $5500 to the Joint Committee’s budget as well. The BLSD did not contribute directly to the Joint Committee budget, although they are paying for this year’s speaker at Divisional PD and will help cover some of the food costs. Joint Committee meeting costs come out of the committee’s budget.
The majority of the money the committee has control over is allocated to the schools to support teacher and work site group PD. The rest of the money is used to pay for Divisional PD day costs (this year food), with the remainder being used to cover meeting expenses. In an effort to make access to PD more equitable, the amount that smaller sites receive is higher on a per-teacher basis than larger sites as the latter can pool a larger amount of money.
Principals/supervisors are responsible for disbursing the funds assigned to their school/work site to pay for school/work site group PD (eg. school-based PD half days, whole-staff PD) as well as individual teacher PD requests. Requests to use money allocated to the school/work site for out of province PD are vetted by Association and Divisional reps on the Joint Committee, rather than the whole committee. The letter of understanding specifies that the Joint Committee is to develop an annual plan, which is to be signed by two signing authorities from the Division and two from the Association.
The Joint PD Committee also oversees the Laminator Fund, money that is collected from the use of the laminator at the Division Office. This money is used to fund PLC book studies in the Division (three such requests were approved at the Committee’s September meeting). A group of members can apply to the Joint Committee to access this fund.
The Division spends significant additional funds (an amount that has risen steadily in recent years) on teacher PD in the Division. These funds are allocated by Senior Administration with no direct Association input. The Division has set when the Divisional PD days will be and has also set the half-days following a recommendation from the Joint Committee a number of years ago. The Association has raised concerns about the concept of half days as well as the way that the Divisional PD days are scheduled by the Division, but to date the Division has not been willing to review these practices.
BLTA PD Committee
The BLTA PD Committee is appointed by the BLTA Council and in addition to being part of the Joint PD Committee, this group is mandated with identifying and responding to the professional issues needs of members. This group forms part of the Border Land Joint PD Committee, but exists separate and distinct from the Joint Committee.
The BLTA PD Committee operates under the BLTA Council and is subject to direction from that body.Two years ago the BLTA set up a PD Fund of its own. Information about this fund along with application forms were sent to all members in early September. Applications to this fund are due by November 30, 2015. The BLTA PD Committee will review all applications after the due date and will disburse the funds.
In some Divisions, teachers have next to no input in PD decisions – all PD money in the Division is allocated by Senior Administration. In other Divisions, the Teachers’ Association receives and allocates the provincial dollars or a designated allotment from the Division and teachers apply to their Association for funding to support their leaning. At one time, local teachers did apply directly to the Joint Committee for PD funding rather than to their principal. This practice shifted over time to the structure currently in use.
These are the policies which guide PD decision-making in Border Land. The Joint Committee is currently in the process of reviewing the manual with the intention of including a revised version in the proposed plan for 2016-17. Policies currently included in the PD manual include:
• allocations go to the school for disbursement by principals
• when mileage is paid (eg. usually not for Divisional PD, never for SAGE)
• PD mileage rate (20¢ single/28¢ carpool)
• out-of-province guidelines
• guidelines for school-based PD
Questions for Members regarding PD:
1. Is the current PD structure supporting and encouraging your ongoing professional learning?
2. What changes in practice or structure would better support your professional learning?
3. What topics do you think should be addressed during Divisional professional development days?
Council has suggested a survey to poll members on these issues. Responses can also be communicated to members of the PD committee or to the BLTA PD Chair.
Originally submitted by Peter Wohlgemut, November 2015