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Rochester Schools Host First District-Wide Professional Development Day

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Superintendent Michael L. Hopkins is pleased to announce that the Rochester Schools’ entire faculty came together this week for a first-of-its-kind district-wide professional development day.

On Monday, Jan. 29, teachers were immersed in the personalized learning model that the district has been steadily expanding to its schools, emphasizing a hands-on and largely self-directed approach based on their individual interests and needs.

At the district-wide professional development day, teachers from grades kindergarten through 12 gathered at Spaulding High School and were offered 33 modules to choose from based the skills they hoped to develop and put to use for the benefit of Rochester’s students.

“We wanted to take the opportunity to tap the wide range of expertise that we already have within the district,” Curriculum Administrator Heidi Zollman said. “We want to highlight what’s already working within our district and expand our capacity for great classroom instruction.”

Monday’s professional development day represented a renewed approach in three core ways for the Rochester schools:

  • It gave teachers direct input into the workshops offered, allowing them select modules based on their needs and interests rather than mandated sessions.
  • Each workshop included at least 30 minutes of application and collaboration time, allowing them to brainstorm ideas for how to put their new skills to use and make them more involved in their own development.
  • The workshops relied on the expertise of teachers themselves rather than outside instructors that would traditionally make up the bulk of a teacher workshop.

“The personalized learning approach has proven successful so far in helping our students grasp subjects and demonstrate their learning,” Assistant Superintendent Kyle Repucci said. “Faculty members gave us feedback that they’d like to have more of a voice and more choices in professional development, and this renewed approach does just that.”

Faculty from throughout the district worked together to teach and learn from one another by working through modules that placed a heavy emphasis on technology-aided teaching, hands-on learning and traditional techniques to improve their classrooms.

The day featured a wide variety of sessions, including ones on using tech tools from Google, as well as a module on an online math program that relies on the personalized learning philosophy.

“Personalized learning relies upon a less structured, more engaging approach to education, and we wanted to apply that to professional development,” Superintendent Hopkins said. “It gives our teachers a practical view of what personalized learning should look like, and positions them well to apply those same techniques in their classrooms.”

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