Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Candidate Statement

Candidate Statement for PGDTA position of SD57 Pro-D Fund Administrator

We face a challenging year ahead in which our professional autonomy and ability to direct our own professional development will be items of public discussion and contract drama. Maybe this is the year that the School Board and DTA will re-imagine what a healthy relationship looks like, and where we can facilitate points of contact. It's time to start some new traditions and set teacher-built examples to follow.

As a pro-d fund administrator, I would:
  • advocate for teacher autonomy in regards to professional development
  • continue the tradition of coordinating a high quality annual Zone Conference 
  • promote new face-to-face and online opportunities for professional learning throughout the year 
  • connect teachers to others for resources, coursework, and mentorship
  • allocate the district’s teacher pro-d funds according to principles of fairness, transparency, demonstration of need and relevance to student learning
  • model and visibly share successful practices for teacher research, growth plans, session facilitation
  • provide resources and support for teachers challenging and navigating the BC Ed Plan
  • work alongside the pro-d committee and PGDTA membership in all these things 
I have been a career-long district leader and contributor to teacher education through workshops, advocacy, and curricular projects on teaching with technology, assessment practice, organizational change, unpacking 21st Century Learning, citizenship and heritage. I’ve been a secondary teacher for 16 years, staff rep (briefly), member of the District Tech Team and two Leadership Teams (technology and literacy), TLITE mentor, school PD rep at D.P. Todd (2005-2010), and presenter at six Zone Conferences.

More information can be found in my professional growth plan: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/68985044/thielmann_turningstones.pdf

You can also scroll through this blog or my twitter feed or website to get a sense of my professional stance and commitment to public education.


Terry Espejo said...


Thank you for sharing your views on Teacher Development. With the threat of employer control of professional development as contained in Bill 22, I think it is critical that teachers continue to demonstrate their personal commitment to continued growth and improving their classroom practise. I think your proposal in "...[promoting] face to face online opportunities..." is an innovative approach to expanding our professional networks and tapping into each others expertise. Best wishes in your endeavors to highlight the need for teacher-driven professional development. You have my support.

Terry Espejo

Thielmann said...

Thanks! Professional learning has changed so much in even the last 5 years, notably due to social media and new ed reform paradigms, that I think we need to step up to the challenge and start rebuilding our reputation for being life-long learners. Both the gov't and the local board office need to hear, see, and read that we are passionate about student learning and our own growth as educators. I'd love to engage our school and district administration on a new level, not as employees trying to satisfy management requirements (passed on to them by the gov't), but as true partners that have a vision for how our system can change and also how pro-d can take place. I've been doing this kind of advocacy for a few years already, so I expect the PD Fund Admin position will be a good fit. I've got a solid handle on 21st Century Learning and how we can navigate the pros & cons, and I know that the PD committee and school PD reps will have some powerful ideas to share.

Teachers (and other educators) are engaged in PD year-long through conversation, reading, blogs, tweets, emails, personal learning networks, etc. -- see the #bclearns twitter stream for an example. I think this has created a different set of expectations about our 5 PD days. We still have many conference attendees and workshop offerings, but there is also a hunger to do something with what has been gathered along the way, a need for celebration, debate, mutual accountability, and wild experiments. I know some parts of this PD position will involve routines, but I hope to expand the emphasis on co-developing, expressing and modeling new vision(s) for how our profession supports students through our PD activities. I look forward to getting the most out of the position (if I get it!) and spending time with teachers when they are in learning mode.

The cutbacks of 2010, the withdrawal of SD57 leadership from many points of contact with teachers, our own withdrawal under the recent job action, and the impacts of Bill 22 have created a bit of a PD clearcut in our district. Rather than see this as a devastated landscape, I think it is fertile ground, ready for new growth that can, to some degree, be led by teachers.

Anonymous said...

Forgive my ignorance Glen, But other than plan the annual spring conference, what else does a Pro-d Fund administrator do? (I feel kind of dumb asking this question, as you addressed some of it in your candidate statement). I think I may have a vague idea.


Thielmann said...

It's a half-time position, more-or-less, perhaps some flexibility for prep time if the PDFA is teaching 4/7 blocks at a secondary school. It used to be a .75 position but was chopped down for a few reasons.

Basic requirement: administer the PD funds available to the PGDTA according to rules and guidelines set out by the PGDTA. Some routine requests are handled directly by the PDFA, while others go through committee. Many criteria and regulations exist for various applicants to the fund.

As part of the PD committee (which the PDFA usually chairs): promote, plan, & present PD activities in a variety of district contexts (including Zone conference), gather & research input from members on PD policies in the district, make reports, maintain contact w/ various groups, allocate funding on a semester basis, prioritize & rationalize funding allocations to the Exec

As part of a standing committee: budget estimates for contribution to the annual budget, written report for the AGM, monitor contractual violations, monthly reports, minutes, etc, plus any extra duties assigned by General Mtg, Staff Rep Assembly, or Exec

Other: many possibilities exist for how this position plays out when (if) all that other stuff is taken care of... I'd like to work alongside teachers in supporting & sharing their PD and curricular projects, provide some mentoring on web-based PD, and apply some pressure to the board office and administration to seize new opportunities to support our vision for PD. For example, just today my AO sent a note around asking us what we're up to on Friday's PD day. I gave the link the link to where I describe briefly what I have planned, and the response I got on a sticky note was "just the short version please" ...wow. In other words, my employer doesn't want to know about my professional orientation, curricular agenda, collaborative activities, or topics of interest, all they want is to check my name off a list. Remind me why BCPSEA thinks that admin should be directing our PD? Sticky notes aside, I think there is a lot of positive space for articulating teachers' approaches to PD and convincing other partners in education that PD, in our own hands, is well placed and responsive to change. I think I can get some real bang for the buck from the position; hope I get the chance to give it a try.