Ar-We-Va Junior-Senior High School (Westside, IA). Our approach to professional development is aligned to the Iowa CORE standards and benchmarks and the Iowa CORE Characteristics of Effective Instruction and is based on the Iowa Professional Development Model (IPDM). The IPDM framework includes peer collaboration, researched-based instructional practices, modeling, observation, and personal accountability. The goal of the IPDM is to provide teachers with high-quality professional development that will positively affect student achievement. Our professional development goals and focus are determined by our data. Each spring, our staff analyzes our data from throughout the year and develops building goals aligned to our district goals. Our professional development is delivered on early-out days that occur twice a month and two full days throughout the year. Professional development initiatives are determined, planned, and delivered cooperatively by teachers and administrators. Given various student needs, constant policy changes, and multiple developments in pedagogy, we have made a conscious effort to avoid fragmented initiatives that result in shallow learning. We are committed to align efforts to a single focus for three to five years.
The district’s current professional development initiative is Authentic Intellectual Work (AIW). The goal of AIW is to improve student achievement through teacher collaboration to improve student tasks, teacher instruction, and the quality of student work. AIW rubrics guide teams as they discuss classroom practice and provide quality feedback to teachers. The first year four teachers and the principal were trained as the AIW anchor team, and one teacher volunteered to become a certified local coach to provide sustained AIW support in the district. The following year AIW was rolled out to all of 6th-12th grade staff. Although we are only in our second full year of AIW, the district has seen positive results in student achievement. In addition to building professional development, teachers also establish Individual Career Development Plans and are accountable for the learning defined by these plans through a formal evaluation process.