There are many professional organizations that can help literacy experts stay involved in the profession beyond their classroom or school assignment. Students in the spring semester of READ 6325 explored various professional organizations and are sharing what they learned through this blog series.
During a recent assignment, I chose to research on the National Staff Development Council. Its purpose is specifically to prepare educators in the delivery of good quality instruction. The organization is known nationwide as NSDC, the acronym for its name. It can easily be found on the world wide web by entering the URL http://www.nsdc.org on any search engine. In this organization anyone can become a member. I personally see it as geared and intended for school districts, board members, teachers, administrators, superintendents, community representatives, support staff, and anyone who truly believes that staff development enhances teacher’s knowledge to provide effective quality instruction.
The focuses of this organization are many and they target every possible standard amongst an educational setting. The organization’s focuses are broken down into three standards; context, content, and process, all developed to specifically target the learning of all students. In order to meet the context standards, the organization provides staff development that prepares school and district leaders with skillful leadership practices. This is absolutely necessary so the school and district leaders achieve the school and district goals. The organization focuses on the ongoing professional learning and continuous improvement of their leaders in the educational contexts to create learning communities and achieve successful student learning. As far as resources, the organization has a clear focus that staff development provides those resources for supporting adult learning and collaboration. This is viewed as an investment that will pay-off in improved staff performance and student learning in the long run. The organization encourages leaders to seek professional learning not only amongst their colleagues but also by sources outside of the school by attending workshops and conferences around the state and nationwide.
The organization’s goals in the process standards encourages leaders to use data and disaggregate it to determine adult’s learning priorities, to monitor progress and sustain continuous improvement of all students. It uses multiple sources of information to guide improvement and demonstrate its impact. The evaluation process is based on clarity of thought regarding outcomes of staff developments. Evidence is gathered from there to guide decision making. One good example is evaluation forms at staff developments. NSDC supports teachers in the use of research to decision making. They believe that research is an essential tool for teachers and administrators to become informed consumers of educational research in the use of professional development. They don’t necessarily intend for educators and leaders to become research crazy, but rather, to use pilot studies to determine the effectiveness of new approaches before implementation. They encourage staff development planners to choose learning strategies that are appropriate for the intended outcome. They must also be aware and skillful in the application of adult learning strategies. The learning methods used in staff development must mirror as close as possible the methods teachers are expected to use with their students. Educators must be open to collaboration in order for the staff development to be successful.
In the organization’s content standards, the goal is that these staff developments improve the learning of students. Educators are prepared to appreciate students and create safe and orderly supportive learning environments and to hold high expectations for the student’s academic achievement. Teachers participate in sustained, intellectually rigorous professional learning for the subjects they teach. Those who are successful will have a better understanding of the subjects taught, use appropriate instructional methods, and apply a variety of assessment strategies. Education is a partnership between the school, home, and the community. Educators must be knowledgeable in the different ways in which families and community members can be involved in the school for the benefit of the students. They must understand their student’s cultural background and challenges that families might be experiencing. Clear communication and respect towards family members demonstrates a genuine interest of a child’s and family’s welfare from the educator.
The NSDC has various resources for staff developers, improvement teams, and educational leaders. They provide several publications such as, Journal of Staff Development, the Developer, and the Innovator. They also offer video and audio materials, sponsor conferences, and workshops on leading school change and improvement. The organization also has very strong supporters such as the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and the Metlife foundation who are very generous in their donations.
Without a doubt, NSDC is a strong supporter in the preparation of educational leaders. Their goal is very clear, preparing leaders and educators to achieve student success. I recommend you visit them on the web and see for yourselves at, www.nsdc.org.