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Definitions of Different Kinds of Professional Development Methods

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Case Study Method: Case studies emphasize detailed contextual analysis of a limited number of events or conditions and their relationships. Writing, discussing and reflecting on cases from the classroom or from school leadership and governance as a means to foster collaborative reflection and improvement on practice.

Critical Friends Groups (CFG): A professional learning community consisting of approximately 8-12 educators who come together voluntarily at least once a month for about 2 hours. Members are committed to improving their practice through collaborative learning. Run by National School Reform Faculty (NSRF).

Community of Practice (CoP): A CoP is group of professionals with shared interests and challenges who meet on an ongoing basis to improve their professional practice and that of their organizations.

Curriculum Review or Mapping Groups: Faculty meet on a regular basis to review what they are teaching, reflect together on impact of and assumptions that underlie the curriculum, make decisions collaboratively.

Instructional Rounds: A process through which educators develop a shared practice of observing, discussing, and analyzing learning and teaching, incorporating elements from medical rounds – such as case histories, focused presentations on research or new practices, and an opportunity to share expertise.

Instrumental Learning: When there is new technology being adapted in the classroom or when there are expectations of expertise in a skill based area; expectations of specific measurable outcomes: ie: how to use Excel, Power Point, speak Spanish, administer a particular type of test, facility with Smart Boards, CPR.

Peer Coaching: Educators consult with one another, to discuss and share teaching practices, to observe one another's classrooms, to promote collegiality and support, and to help ensure quality teaching for all students.

Personal Learning Network (PLN): A group of people who can guide your learning, point you to learning opportunities, answer your questions, and give you the benefit of their own knowledge and experience.

Professional Learning Communities (PLC): in which the teachers in a school and its administrators continuously seek and share learning and then act on what they learn. The goal of their actions is to enhance their effectiveness as professionals so that students benefit.

Reading Groups: Groups of teachers, faculty meet together to discuss books they are reading.

Self-Directed Learning: Making decisions about how to advance one's own practice including reading books that relate to what I teach or new teaching practices, visiting colleagues in their classrooms, writing projects like journaling, taking a course, going to a conference, getting trained to use a new technology on my own, etc

Professional Development Portfolios: Faculty are expected to create their own PD portfolio based on specific criteria that they are given, or based on conversations they have with supervisors about what they need to know and/or learn more about.

Written by: Dr. Naava Frank, Dr. Jane West Walsh and Dr. Diane Tickton Schuster

For North American Jewish Day School Conference – February 2011



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