Friday, September 4, 2015

BPSCON Gets Positive Reviews from Burlington Teachers

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Superintendent of Schools Eric Conti, addresses staff during the opening session of BPSCON

Before we welcomed students back for the 2015-2016 school year this week, over 400 Burlington educators were busy taking part in our annual Burlington Public Schools Professional Development Conference called BPSCON. While BPSCON has become a regular occurrence for Burlington educators, this year’s conference received the most positive feedback we have had surrounding our opening Professional Development (PD) days.  The collaborative efforts of the Burlington Educators’ Association and the Burlington Public Schools Central Administration made this year’s BPSCON much more of a joint endeavor than it has been previously.

This renewed collaborative journey surrounding PD in Burlington began at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year when our district agreed to be part of the District Capacity Project, a partnership between the Massachusetts Department of Education, the Massachusetts Teachers’ Association, and the Rennie Center.  The District Capacity Project provided our district with both a framework and support to help guide our monthly professional development meetings with our team of teachers, administrators, and an outside facilitator.

After surveying teachers during the year and hearing that staff members were seeking a greater voice in creating their PD offerings, we put out the call for our talented teachers to propose sessions to lead for their colleagues.  Thankfully our BPS faculty members stepped up in a big way, proposing over 40 sessions for our opening conference.  

Here is what a few of the new Burlington Public Schools staff members had to say about their first three days in Burlington:

“I enjoyed the flexibility of designing my own schedule.  There was great variety and options to choose from and I thought the length of the sessions was just right.” (Jeff Pera, joins Burlington Public Schools from Natick Public Schools)

“BPSCon was the best beginning of the school year teacher workshop days I've ever experienced. “ (Dr. Conti’s) opening remarks were impactful, yet hilarious. I had tears of laughter which was a new and wonderful experience for me  during a superintendent's first day back speech. BPSCon was exactly what I needed as a first-year teacher in Burlington .Having BPS educators present is brilliant and empowering. All who presented are the best experts in our field; why pay outsiders to come in? All school districts should follow this innovative model.  (Rachel Small, joins Burlington from Manchester (NH) Public Schools)

With the positive feedback from this year’s BPSCON, the BPS staff members involved with planning Professional Development through the DIstrict Capacity Project are excited to find opportunities to continue offering staff timely and engaging PD opportunities throughout the school year. Special thanks to the following BPS staff member for their hard work on this initiative: Diana Marcus (Burlington Educators’ Association President), Michael Coughlin, Rachel Gould, Carolyn Crowley, Sean Musselman and Deb Dressler. These educators, central office administration and school committee representative, Kristen Russo, have already developed a schedule to continue work on this initiative during the 2015/2016 school year.

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