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|A Parent's Guide to
Professional Development Standards for New Jersey Teachers
|"We are now at a point where we must educate our children in what no one knew yesterday, and prepare our schools for what no one knows yet." - Margaret Mead|
What is professional development?
Sometimes called staff development, professional development is the term used to describe a variety of opportunities to continually learn, update and improve the knowledge and skills of any professional.
Why do parents need to know about professional development for teachers?
Teachers and parents are the adults who have the most direct impact on children and how well they learn. As a parent, you need to know about the changes in your childs classroom: the new learning expectations; the plans that the school has for helping teachers continually improve their practice; and the effects of these plans on your child's education.
New state regulations provide guidelines to New Jersey teachers about the type and amount of professional development they must acquire to best help your child learn. The regulations went into effect on September 1, 2000 and require teachers and educational services personnel to earn 100 hours of professional development credit within five years.
What do the new guidelines do?
The guidelines, called Standards for Professional Development for NJ Teachers, serve two main purposes:
1. The Professional Development Standards explain what teachers need to know and be able to do in order to help students reach the new learning standards in New Jersey.
2. The new Professional Development Standards define the important components of effective professional development for teachers, so that the providers of those services will improve the quality of offerings to NJ teachers.
What is the benefit for your child?
The new learning standards for New Jersey students called Core Curriculum Content Standards and Cross- Content Workplace Readiness Skills, are designed to enable students to learn new things in new ways in order to meet the challenges of the modern workplace.
For children's learning to meet the new standards, their teachers must continually monitor and adapt teaching methods. Professional development provides teachers with the skills and knowledge that are critical for continued effectiveness at teaching students the new education standards.
How can parents be an important part of the community of learners?
Parents play an integral role in assisting student learning. In fact, all of the adults who are important in a childs education need to keep learning. Any adult who comes in contact with your children has an opportunity to influence them.
As a parent, you need to continually improve your understanding about your child's school. You need to understand how the education that your child receives relates to the new expectations for an excellent education. You need to know about the curriculum, which means that you need to be aware of what the school is teaching and why the expectations have changed.
It is true, schools must play their part by giving you information and encouraging you to assist in your child's learning. The school should give you an explanation of the subjects and skills that your child needs to learn when he/she reaches each grade level, along with some specific directions, so that you can participate in the development of those skills.
There are many ways that an effective partnership can be built between home and school. When you are informed, you can play the important role of education partner by supporting what your child's teacher does in the classroom.
It is only when you have this information that you will be able to participate fully in making your childs education successful and in meaningful decision-making at your childs school.
What can parents, students and community members expect?
Teachers and their supervisors will be actively involved in implementing the requirements of the professional development initiative. The results of exceptional teaching are most often visible to the public through student achievement, in evidence through measurable results. Generally speaking, you may not notice any dramatic or immediate changes in your child's day-to-day classroom experience. However, you will ultimately notice the improvements in education because of the higher expectations for both learning and teaching.
|The following are some possible changes that you may notice:
What are the effects on student learning?
Numerous national experts have documented the relationship between effective professional development for teachers and improved student learning.
When designing the new Professional Development Standards, NJ education leaders consulted with national experts to develop specific requirements that will ensure a positive impact on your child's learning and future success.
Children are motivated to achieve when learning is valued by families, schools and communities working together in partnership. We must all keep our focus on children as we find new ways to best help them learn.
How can you foster parent, family and community involvement?
- Parents and community members can communicate their support for high-quality professional development for teachers to their local school board members. In this way your elected representatives will know that you desire and expect your child, as well as every child in your community, to receive the best education available.
- Individuals serving on local district site-based management teams can prioritize professional development for teachers as a way to improve student learning.
- Mutual respect and two-way communication are important as you develop your relationship between home and school. Share interesting education information, as it relates to your child, with your child's teacher. By providing ideas and input in a meaningful way, you can let the staff know that you support and encourage them.
Resources and Information
Core Curriculum Content Standards and Cross-Content Workplace Readiness Standards for NJ Students: www.state.nj.us/education/cccs/
Core Curriculum Content Standards for Students with Severe Disabilities: www.state.nj.us/education/specialed/cccsssd800.pdf
Findings from national experts, resources, and other important information on Professional Development for NJ Teachers: www.state.nj.us/education/profdev/
National Staff Development Council: http://www.nsdc.org/parentindex.htm
You may also access this information by sending a request to:
Office of Standards & Professional Development
c/o NJ Professional Teaching Standards Board
NJ Department of Education
PO Box 500
Trenton, NJ 08625-0500