Williamsville Central School District

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Understanding The District’s Organization of Professional Development
The District is firmly committed to building-based professional development supported by a data-driven school improvement plan. It is understood that certain philosophical foundations, programs, and skills must be consistent across District schools. Teachers realize the need to constantly study and reflect upon their individual classroom situations. For these reasons, the District philosophy supports an organizational structure for professional development that recognizes three levels of professional development:

  1.  District-Based programs-supporting District-wide efforts especially State-mandated initiatives;
  2. School-Based programs-supporting District-wide efforts and school-based improvement programs;
  3. Individual Growth and Enrichment Plans-meeting individual needs that support District and/or building-based efforts.
To provide for the development of meaningful and focused professional development activities within each of these categories, the District has developed the following context to provide justification for each activity:

  • District goals, as provided by the Board of Education (student achievement and character development);
  • State Initiatives, including Race to the Top, implementation of the State Learning and Common Core Standards, and related teaching strategies and assessments;
  • Comprehensive System of Personnel Development Goals or goals related to special education efforts;
  • Data-driven school improvement plans;
  • Criteria for highly effective teaching articulated in the Thoughtful Classroom Teacher Effectiveness Framework, which was adopted as the District's State-approved APPR rubric.
To organize and manage District professional development in a logical, cohesive way, the following will be generated:

  • Department of Instruction-Content-based plans, driven by implementation of the Standards, associated assessments, and teaching strategies.
  • Department of Exceptional Education and Student Services-Plans based upon the required District Comprehensive System of Personnel Development Goals Plan.
  • School Buildings-School improvement plans (data driven) including the accompanying professional development implementation plans, which will be developed in association with the District Shared Decision-Making training cadre and technology-based plans to infuse technology into the Standards process and for the management of instruction.
School based professional development initiatives (activities and strategies) are connected to the school improvement process and aligned with district goals. They are based upon collection and evaluation of student achievement data, demographics, perception data, and school processes data to determine needs. Each of our thirteen schools is responsible to submit a plan that includes a description of needs, goals, action plans for each goal and a professional development plan. Plans are usually developed for a three to five-year period with yearly modifications taking place.

The Williamsville Central School District has designed a system of teacher appraisal and growth that focuses individual teachers on developing professional development goals based on:

  • The learning needs of the students to related to New York State and District standards;
  • Classroom practices currently in use;
  • Area of inquiry (i.e., theory, practice or methodology) to be investigated and implemented for the purpose of improving student learning and achievement through professional growth;
  • Changes that might occur in instruction, classroom management, and/or assessment tools;
  • Plans for reviewing and assessing the extent to which changes have affected student learning and achievement.
Although these actual plans are not included in the professional plan documentation, it is important to mention that this individual professional growth process provides an opportunity for staff to focus district/building goals at a personal level. It also encourages teachers to become involved in action research, study groups, and peer coaching. The ultimate goal is to improve student learning by incorporating research-based teaching strategies and methodologies into the classroom setting. Student learning, student achievement, and similar terms used in this document relate to student-centered activities that are part of the District’s instructional program.

For additional information, please contact:

Linda Ruest, Instructional Specialist for Professional Development