A Day of Learning for Berkshire County Educators

On November 8, the Lenox Public Schools are closed for our annual Professional Development Day.  This year Lenox will be collaborating with school districts from around the county to serve over 1000 educators from 9 school districts with more than 50 unique professional development workshops and mini-courses.  Many of these activities will be led by county teachers.

The impetus for the county-wide professional development day comes from the fact that, independently, small school districts are challenged in providing meaningful and appropriate professional learning opportunities to a diverse staff.  The sharing of services between school districts has been on the radar of many Berkshire districts for quite some time and the events of November 8 will represent an important step towards continued inter-district collaboration.

Workshops and activities for the day vary greatly.  Some workshops will focus on specific themes such as student assessment, inclusion, and development of writing skills.  Others will bring groups of educators with similar roles to focus on broader topics such as: legal issues around transgender students, new state science standards, design thinking and social emotional learning.  All activities have been created with the hope that county educators may form lasting collegial networks through the sharing of experiences and knowledge.

On November 8, Lenox will be hosting county-wide Professional Learning Networks for nurses, psychologists, and counselors as well as physical education and wellness/health teachers.  We will also host a training for county educators who wish to be teacher-mentors and a workshop specifically designed for teams of special education and classroom teachers called “Best Practices for Inclusion and Team-Teaching.”

The day’s activities are supported through a combination of local funds for professional development, the Superintendent’s Roundtable of Berkshire County, and a state grant for shared services-a portion of which was designated for professional learning.  I’d like to recognize and thank Bill Ballen, former Shaker Union Superintendent and facilitator of the Superintendent’s Roundtable.  I’d also like to thank colleagues from the administrative offices of the Pittsfield and North Adams Schools.   This will be the first time an inter-district PD project of this scale has been attempted and there are many contributors to its realization.

Attendees at the November 8 Professional Learning day will complete evaluations about their experiences.  We hope this input will lead to even more productive professional development collaboration and ultimately the enhancement of educational practices around the county.