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Professional development days not time off for Shuswap teachers

School District #83 explains purpose of Pro-D days and their benefit to staff, students
School District #83 North Okanagan-Shuswap building. (File photo)

For many Shuswap parents, finding care for elementary school-aged children on Pro-D days is a reality of having a child in the public school system.

While some may think of them as days off for students and teachers alike, Pro-D or professional development days are important days of learning for teachers. As for students, additional instructional days are added to the school calendar so there is no loss of instructional time.

“The inclusion of professional development days in the school calendar increased the number of days of work for teachers, with no loss of instructional days for students,” states a School District #83 news release on the topic of Pro-D days.

School District #83 has a number of educators who volunteer their time to develop and lead sessions for SD83 staff. There is also a joint school district-teacher association team that works together to offer learning opportunities, and every school has a professional development team.

In addition to Pro-D days, SD83 has other ongoing professional learning opportunities.

“For example, last year over 70 teachers volunteered their time, after school, to take part in a professional learning series on math,” states the release. “There are also teachers taking part in inquiry teams that meet five times a year on an educational learning project, and then share that project with other staff in May.

“SD83 also provides mentorship support, on-site teacher support for technology, reporting, assessment and more. In short, professional development is one part of the important role of teacher learning.”

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The type and minimum number of non-instructional days in a school year are determined provincially through negotiation between the Ministry of Education and the British Columbia Teachers’ Union. Typically, there have been six, with additional days added in recent years to support the adoption of B.C.’s new curriculum.

There are six Pro-D days scheduled for the 2019-20 school year in School District #83. They fall on: Friday, Sept. 20; Friday, Oct. 25; Tuesday, Nov. 12; Monday, Feb. 3; Friday, Feb. 21; and Friday, May 08.

Educational researcher John Hattie has demonstrated that an important factor in student learning and success is the belief and ability of teachers to support their students’ learning. This is why professional development days are important.

“We all want our teachers and all staff to have the most current, research based and best information – all with the single purpose of supporting teachers knowing that they can make a difference for students (teacher efficacy) and, as Hattie determined, this is the most important factor in student learning,” comments Assistant Superintendent Carl Cooper.

Professional development days, vacation times and other dates of importance can be found on the School District #83 website.


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Lachlan Labere

About the Author: Lachlan Labere

Editor, Salmon Arm Observer
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