Helemano Elementary School (Wahiawa, HI). Highly trained medical professionals treat patients in intensive care units. Likewise, Title I schools require highly-trained teachers to effectively meet the needs of their students. As a Title I school, our professional development must be fine-tuned to meet our students’ needs. Professional development at Helemano Elementary is designed to develop capacity at the school level and focus on the most essential professional development needs. Our school follows a consistent professional development process. The principal and curriculum coaches identify areas of need through student assessment data, teacher needs surveys, and classroom walkthroughs. The principal and curriculum coaches read professional literature, attend presentations conducted by the district and state, and meet with consultants. After careful consideration of the needs of our students and teachers, the curriculum coaches introduce the most pertinent information to the faculty. Changes in teacher practice often do not take place immediately after a presentation. Therefore, our academic and financial plan supports ongoing professional development sessions facilitated by curriculum coaches to support all teachers in mapping out their curriculum, crafting learning activities, and creating common formative and summative assessments. Curriculum coaches model or co-teach lessons, observe teachers, and provide feedback to ensure effective implementation of new initiatives.
This professional development process has been most recently used to successfully transition to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and implement Thinking Maps, Multisensory Structured Language/Orton Gillingham (MSL-OG), as well as the state-adopted Wonders literacy series and Stepping Stones math series.
In addition to this general professional development process, we offer professional development specifically for new teachers. Our induction and mentoring system is a comprehensive three-year professional development program aligned to district and state guidelines. It is designed to meet the needs of every new teacher at Helemano Elementary. Through monthly seminars, observations of exemplary teachers at the school, teacher reflection, and analysis of student work, the professional development focuses on developing a new generation of teachers who are prepared to meet the unique and diverse challenges of working in a Title I school. The most recent School Quality Survey (SQS) results validate the quality of professional development support provided to teachers. The data from the SQS indicated that 100% of teachers agree the school provides them with the support they need to do their job well. In our Title I school, we know the value of providing focused and ongoing professional development to sustain student achievement.