ACA strives to provide quality education and recruiting highly qualified teachers. Part of our improvement commitment is to advance our practices and utilize the best teaching and learning practices. ACA Teachers are supported in multiple measures including Professional Learning Communities (PLC), Professional Development (PD), workshops and seminars they are required to attend to improve their teaching practices.
What is a PLC?
A professional learning community, or PLC, is a group of educators that meets regularly, shares expertise, and works collaboratively to improve teaching skills and the academic performance of students.
What is a PLC at ACA?
At ACA we pride ourselves in conducting bi-weekly PLC meetings to ensure that our staff is doing everything that is necessary to meet the diverse needs of our students. We currently have 8 PLC groups (Sacred Science, Arabic, Math, Social Studies, ELA, Elementary, Science, and Electives).
When each group meets we discuss what we want our students to learn (the curriculum and objectives), what activities are being used in the classroom, how students in need are identified and what can be done to help them, the best practices that are being used in the classroom and any needs of the department. These meetings are data-driven, which means that we use students test scores, observations, grades, etc. to help us make our decisions.
What are PD sessions?
In education, the term professional development (PD) may be used in reference to a wide variety of specialized training, formal education, or advanced professional learning intended to help administrators, teachers, and other educators improve their professional knowledge, competence, skill, and effectiveness.
At ACA we hold weekly PD sessions that are based on the specific needs of our staff. The staff has been split into two groups; Elementary and 6-12 to ensure that the material that they are being presented is relevant to them and their students. We also use outside resources and presenters to come to speak to our staff and work with them on improving their teaching practices.
Observation Process used by the Instructional Coach
The observational protocol used by the Instructional Coach was adopted from the National Institute of Excellence in Teaching (NIET) and is based in great part on NIET’s extensive experience conducting evidence-based observations and meaningful evaluation conversations that lead to improved practice.
The Observation Process follows the following steps:
1) A Pre-Conference meeting with the teacher the week before the observation to discuss any areas that the teacher would like the Instructional Coach to focus on and an overview of how all subjects are going.
2) During the observation, the Instructional Coach will actively collect evidence and take notes.
3) A Post-Conference meeting with the teacher the week after the observation to debrief about the lesson and go over strengths and weakness.
What is a Workshop?
Good teachers become great teachers by going beyond the call of duty and beyond the textbook. To do this, he or she must continue their education. Workshops are one tool that gives the teacher that extra help in technology for their students. There are online workshops, and classes that teachers could attend as well as on-site workshop and classes.
Workshops at ACA
At ACA we send our teachers to specific workshops to help enhance their teaching practices. Teachers attend workshops at least twice a year as well as participating in on-campus workshops. The on-campus workshops are designed to meet the needs of all of our staff members. When new curriculum or classroom tools are implemented teachers go through hands-on workshops to become familiar with the topics.
What is a Seminar?
A seminar may be defined as a gathering of people for the purpose of discussing a stated topic. Such gatherings are usually interactive sessions where the participants engage in discussions about the delineated topic. The sessions are usually headed or led by one or two presenters who serve to steer the discussion along the desired path.
Seminars at ACA
At ACA we bring in knowledgeable members of the community as well as individuals who are leaders in the field of education. Throughout the school year, we provide opportunities for our staff to learn from experts in the field of education. The purpose of the visit is to educate the staff on the new practices in education and to enhance the current practices of our teachers.
Seminars vs. Workshops
The main difference between seminars and workshops is that seminars are usually more academic and less hands-on than workshops. Seminars are events that are mostly geared towards educational topics and usually feature one or more subject matter experts. On the other hand, workshops are generally less formal and require more attendee participation than seminars. The main thrust of workshops is for the participants to gain new skills during the event under the guidance of the instructor.