Professional Development in DYS
Research shows that professional development leads to better instruction and improved student learning when it connects to the curriculum materials that teachers use, state academic standards that guide their work, and the assessment and accountability measures that evaluate their success.
DYS educators participate in a set of systematic and purposeful learning experiences designed to improve teacher practice and lead to improved student outcomes. Through professional development (PD), teachers get to enhance their skills in the planning and implementation of high-quality instruction while sharing and learning from one another on how to meet the diverse needs of the DYS population.
DYS strives to ensure that all youth have access to a high-quality education. Providing effective access to the general education curriculum for ALL students requires a multi-faceted approach that includes planning instruction using Universal Design for Learning principles, differentiation, culturally responsive practices, and collaboration with other educators. We follow a collaborative planning process that uses a formal data driven discussion protocol and is a responsibility shared by general education and special education educators alike. This serves to advance our commitment to blended learning and differentiation.
The DYS core curricula support students in pursuing their educational goals and providing access to resources designed to expose them to rigorous content. Lessons are aligned with the most current Massachusetts State Curriculum Frameworks. Instruction is regularly evaluated by qualified educational administrators, informed by the MA DESE model evaluation system, and professional development is organized to support teacher proficiency in these standards and in advancing the goals of the Department.
Positive Youth Development and Culturally Responsive Practices
Our approach to professional development is grounded in research-based positive youth development (PYD) and culturally responsive practices (CRP). Trainings provided through the CES partnership with DYS are designed to deepen understanding of PYD and CRP and identify strategies and practices that maintain academic rigor and high expectations for student performance while giving students experiences that are culturally relevant, enriching, and meaningful.Together, PYD and CRP provide a framework to give educators the awareness and skills to foster in all DYS youth a stable sense of self, belief in one’s abilities, positive and caring relationships with others, and a sense of control over future outcomes.
We are trying to flip the script so it’s us supporting what teachers are initiating as their own learning, and meeting their needs to do their job. Their voice makes a difference and has an impact on the design. Teachers are telling us that the PD is relevant, and the PD is helping us to do our job.
The Impact goes beyond the numbers. The willingness to engage in the work and learning – students typically don’t walk in the door with that, and how they change through the use of instructional practices is how we know that we as teachers are making a difference.
Professional Development Series
Each year, a general and special educator PD series is planned and delivered. The year’s PD series can incorporate overall themes such as the design elements of social justice and culturally responsive teaching, and special education strategies and skills. A PD Workshop Model resembling classroom instruction in DYS settings is implemented to support best practices in promoting civic engagement and cultural responsiveness across a range of youth concentrations and pursuits.
Content-based Learning Teams
DYS also hosts Content-Based Learning Team (CBLT) meetings which give content-alike teachers a venue to share practices, analyze student data, and give feedback on instructional plans and lesson activities that could enhance classroom teaching and learning within their respective content areas. Most teachers value CBLTs because they provide additional opportunities for collaboration around instructional planning, curriculum, and technology resources, and modeling new instructional strategies for content.
Another strategy DYS utilizes to strengthen educator practice is instructional coaching. The instructional coaching framework is based on three research-based coaching modalities:
- Residency Coaching: Instructional Coach spends consecutive and/or multiple days at a program with the teacher or teachers.
- Rotation Coaching: Instructional Coach works with a teacher for all or part of a day for a specific, timely coaching request. Multiple visits may be scheduled.
- Virtual Coaching: Instructional Coach assists teacher(s) with one or more specific practices by phone, email, webinar, or Google Drive.
New Teacher Induction
New teachers at DYS participate in a comprehensive five-day New Teacher Induction Program (NTIP) that fulfills DESE’s new teacher induction licensure requirements and supports new teachers in their transition to teaching in DYS programs.
Annual Addressing Racial Trauma Conference
In April 2021 as part of the 2020-2021 DYS Professional Development Series, we hosted a multi-disciplinary conference titled, “Liberatory Education: Healing from the Hidden Wounds of Racial Trauma in the Classroom.” Liberatory education explicitly teaches about real social issues through raising critical consciousness and applying social justice principles to create a more “just” society. Guided by this theme, the conference was designed to deepen our shared understanding of racial trauma on youth and use this understanding to strengthen our individual and collective skills in reaching and teaching our youth. Over 300 participants attended this conference including teachers, education administrators, education and career counselors, clinical staff, direct-care residential staff, leadership across DYS, Commonwealth Corporation, Collaborative for Educational Services, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and a host of other caring adults and practitioners. 88% of the conference attendees rated the 2021 conference good or excellent.
DYS has been unwavering in promoting teacher and youth use of technology to strengthen teaching and learning. At the start of the academic year, several strategies are identified that would enhance proficiency of educators in blended learning. The Instructional Technology Coaches help with the professional development sessions on the use of technology to meet learning objectives.
Consistent with the expectations of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, DYS is committed to supporting youth to be prepared for the demands of further education and a contemporary workplace. To meet this commitment, DYS has invested in curricular resources and materials that benefit all learners from high school and beyond and trainings to support teachers in integrating the new resources into their lessons.
DYS Curriculum Supports
The curriculum design supports students in pursuing their educational goals and provides access to resources designed to expose them to rigorous content. Lessons are aligned with the most current Massachusetts State Curriculum Frameworks.
An extensive library of approved curricular materials and supports are provided to teachers in the DYS educational system.