If you were asked to describe the best professional learning experience you have ever had, what would you say? Would you say it fit your needs perfectly? Would you say you were provided with individualized considerations? Would you say you were able to take the experience and share it with your colleagues? Would you say it helped you to foster a community of practice in your school? Or would you say it promoted new learning? If your professional learning description included those components then it suggests that you’ve been a part of an experience with the practices most relevant to building professional capacity.
Professional learning done can open the path for teachers to change their behaviors, which leads to better student outcomes. Best of all, it allows teachers to have a positive attitude change. At AIMS we strive to improve and deliver the best possible professional learning we can. Districts and schools may even use government Title II funds to pay for professional development offered by AIMS. Title II funds are intended to increase the number of high-quality, effective teachers and principals. Funds can be used for a variety of purposes, from recruiting and retaining teachers, to reducing class sizes or providing professional development.
I learned from Stephanie Hirsh, Learning Forward’s Executive Director that the certainty of Title II funds being part of a public school district’s budget is in jeopardy. One of Stephanie’s recent blog posts states, “Congress passed ESSA with a vision for public education that ensures equity and excellence for all students. Educators need sustained, classroom-focused professional development as redefined in ESSA to achieve that vision. Without Title II funds the achievement gaps will increase and the teacher shortage will become more pronounced.”
What can you do? Be proactive, and find out what Title II funds are used for in your school and district. Ask what would happen if those funds were cut, and what the impact of that happening would be. Next, I encourage you to advocate for the Title II funds continuing to be available. Write and phone your congressman and senators to share a story of impact about your school because Title II funds were used. Or, better yet, invite your congressman and senators to make a back to school visit during their August recess and show them how Title II dollars are being spent to make education awesome at your school. Both you and your students are worth it.