November 8, 2023: Paramus, NJ – While Paramus Public Schools were closed on Tuesday, Nov. 7 for Election Day, faculty and staff members seized the opportunity to engage in learning and expand their knowledge during a district-wide Professional Development (PD) Day.
At the middle school and high school level, three morning sessions offered approximately ten workshops each that covered a wide range of differentiated PD topics. Workshops included everything from using AI in the Classroom and Increasing Student Growth Mindset Through Self-Assessment, to Staff Team Building, Behavior Interventions, Grading/Feedback Practices that Foster Growth, and many more. Ahead of the PD Day, teachers had the opportunity to review workshop offerings and sign up for those that would benefit them and their teaching the most. In the afternoon, middle school and high school teachers worked within subject-specific groups on PD related to their content area
For elementary school teachers, the morning began with training in Number Talks, an instructional strategy used in mathematics to build number sense and practice mathematical reasoning. The morning session concluded with Security Training led by district security and the Paramus Police Department. The afternoon introduced two sessions of differentiated PD on a variety of topics, offering nine workshops per session. Workshops included Instructional Support on Guided Reading, Writing Workshop Overview, Balanced Literacy Refresh, AI Tools for Teachers, and Grammar Bootcamp, to name a few.
The district has been hosting a PD Day for faculty on Election Day since the 2015-16 school year. “On a day like Election Day when students are off, it’s a great opportunity to have teachers learn together,” said Timothy Donohue, Assistant Superintendent of Schools. “This year, the overarching focus of the differentiated learning sessions was on Growth Mindset–one of our
district goals. Sessions emphasized various tools, techniques, and strategies to assist students in fostering a growth mindset.”
As a significant component of the district’s success with professional development offerings are the leaders from within, the majority of workshop leaders are members of the faculty. They represent teachers, instructional coaches, and administrators who step up to design and facilitate dynamic professional learning opportunities for their fellow educators and colleagues.
Professional Development is not a new concept for Paramus, and its significance is duly acknowledged by the administration. All teachers receive at least two full days of PD each year–the opening day of school for staff in September and Election Day. Teachers new to the district receive three additional PD days during new staff orientation in August. “As a district, we are always looking to support the professional growth of our staff to ensure that they have the tools and resources they need to be successful,” said Sean Adams, Superintendent of Schools. “Whenever possible, we try to provide staff members with choices in terms of their learning.
Each year, we focus on connecting differentiated learning opportunities to our district goals to ensure that staff members have multiple pathways toward reaching those goals.”
The Paramus Public Schools staff members have voiced their gratitude for the opportunity to participate in professional learning that best meets their interests and needs. “By having staff members propose topics for sessions to lead and providing all staff members with the choice for which of those topics they will study during the day,” Adams continued, “we are able to leverage staff leadership while providing as many diverse course offerings as possible. What makes a day like today successful are the staff members who develop and lead sessions and the faculty across the district who participate enthusiastically in the sessions, learning alongside each other.”