How does the Consortium support Professional Development (PD) for staff

WEST works to support a highly-skilled, well-informed staff.  This is challenging with a territory of over 25,000 square miles and mainly in rural settings.  Last year WEST approved 1,060 hours, or approximately $26,500, 2.5% of professional development (PD) for staff members that was paid out of state funds.  This is for actual hours in class. WEST also pays for registration, mileage and accommodations and meal reimbursement and last year WEST spent $13,245, or another 1.25%.  26/35 of WEST’s ABE teachers attended Summer Institute. Those costs do not include fringe benefits such as FICA and TRA.

To determine what professional development needs are, input is collected through staff meetings, emerging state initiatives and the annual ABE Practitioner Survey through ATLAS which annually tallies the needs and requests of our staff.  ATLAS, the Adult Teaching and Learning Advancement System provider is housed at Hamline University in St. Paul.  Hamline works to support rural programs like ours in that they provide travel scholarships which eases some of the financial burden.  Staff subscribe to their bi-monthly newsletter which lists professional development updates and opportunities, links to resources and interesting articles that highlight best practices in our field.  Another provider that we frequently use is Southwest ABE for it’s training in testing. We assure each staff member is up to date with their CASAS and TABE training and, if not, will schedule SWABE to attend an all-staff meeting to lead the refresher trainings.  WEST puts out newsletters featuring upcoming trainings and staff receives the bi-monthly ABE Connect electronic newsletter published by ATLAS featuring upcoming PD opportunities.  The ABE Manager forwards all emails from the MDE or supplemental service providers regarding upcoming trainings.

WEST annually allocates each teacher 40 hours of paid professional development time and substitutes are allotted 20 hours.  This includes all staff meetings. For fiscal year 18-19, it was mandated that half of the staff’s total PD time would be spent learning and integrating College and Career Readiness (CCRS) consortium-wide.  One WEST lead instructor was assigned to be the CCRS Specialist and allocated 10 hours a week to make sure that CCRS is implemented consortium-wide and be the go-to person as a reference for all teachers.

As mentioned, CCRS is a priority this year with half of the staff’s PD hours dedicated to implementing this in their classrooms.  They are also required, in the first six months after hire, to attend trainings in:

  1. ABE Foundations
  2. Northstar Digital Literacy Proctor
  3. ACES/TIF Foundations
  4. Digital Literacy Foundations
  5. TABE and/or CASAS Assessment

The ABE Manager participates in Summer Institute annually and has for the past 19 years.  She also is a part of West Hennepin ABE Managers (WHAM) which members are area managers north and west of Minneapolis, and the Regional Transitions Coordinator.  In these meetings ideas are shared, state policies discussed and clarified and new initiatives brought to light. It’s a time for all Managers to get clarification or input on such things as Table 13, Local Grantees by Funding Source, or get input on say a consortium’s success with the DL platform MobyMax. In addition the Manager participates in quarterly state-hosted webchats hosted the Literacy Action Network (LAN) and sits in when possible on the LAN Legislative Committee meetings.  The Manager also attends the spring Grant Application workshop and the fall ABE Managers meeting sponsored by the MDE. The Database Specialist attends the annual spring Student Information Database (SID) training sponsored by the MN Literacy Council, narrative meetings and annual grant meetings.

Instructors also participate and have been regular attendees and presenters at many of the regional and statewide events, to include the Transitions Conference, the Language and Literacy Institute, Summer Institute, as mentioned, the Math Institute, the Minnesota Association of Jail Programs and Services (MAJPS), many cultural awareness events, state webinars, Regionals, volunteer Navigator Training, Integrating ACES Skills in to the classroom and so many more. Staff track their own PD in a shared Google Drive document and adds it to the Consortium PD tracking sheet so that they mind their PD time accurately and Management can analyze it to assure that the required trainings are completed.

A few members of staff have participated in specialized professional development and these are different in that they usually require an application process and a greater time of commitment.  Trainings are typically a nationally-recognized program and taught by certified trainers. A few examples of past trainings include:

  • Student Achievement in Reading (STAR) This project from the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) which provides evidence-based training in the four components of adult reading instruction which are alphabetics, fluency, comprehension and vocabulary.  WEST has two STAR classes in Wayzata and Buffalo.
  • College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) Implementation Cohort Training which is an intensive, long-term opportunity that trains teachers to align curriculum and instruction to the CCR standards and create a program implementation plan.  Currently two WEST teachers, one in math and one in English, have completed the cohort along with the Program Manager. The implementation plan has begun and staff have received their initial few trainings with ongoing training planned.
  • Academic, Career and Employability Standards (ACES) and Transitions Integration Framework (TIF) provides teachers the opportunity to practice integrating skills in the six categories:  Effective Communication (EC), Learning Strategies (LS), Critical Thinking (CT), Self-Management (SM), Developing a Future Pathway (DFP), and Navigating Systems (NS).

Each staff member receives training in state-sponsored Distance Learning (DL) Programs, i.e. DL101, in order to educate themselves about the programs available and learn how to count proxy hours for state-sponsored DL platforms.  Since many of our programs are rural, this has become a goal to expand DL options and intensity. This also helps us to reach the 40 hour mark for post-testing. In addition, the MLC offer PD on educational technology and distance learning platforms, assessment facilitation of curriculum for inclusion under the distance learning policy, training on integrating digital literacy and online learning resources including Open Education Resources (OER’s).  See the 2017 WEST ABE Practioner Development Survey .