VHS in-house program gives teachers development optionsMay 06, 2021 10:49AM ● By Peri Kinder
Teachers at Viewmont High School attend a professional development workshop. Courtesy photo
Educators in the Davis School District are required to do professional development hours, but as the 2020-21 school year started most teachers were doing all they could to just make it through the day. COVID-19 was raging and teachers were feeling overwhelmed and frustrated.
Viewmont High School English teacher Kristin van Brunt had an idea to make these required hours easier. By bringing professional development in-house and creating a customized solution that would allow teachers to complete it at their own pace, she hoped more teachers would participate. She started tinkering with ideas and at the beginning of the school year van Brunt introduced a program where teachers would be issued one challenge in five categories, every two weeks.
“This was more bite-sized,” van Brunt said. “It gave teachers choices in what they learn and how they learn it. Teachers can choose what they want to do. The social and emotional mission is the most popular. It gives the teacher permission to do something for themselves like read a book or go for a walk.”
Along with social and emotional learning, the missions include challenges in general/professional learning, digital tools and engagement, standards-based learning, and using the learning management system Canvas.
VHS Principal Jason Smith said the program has worked well, with teachers catering the challenges to fit their needs.
“It’s been well-received by the faculty. This year, we issued the challenge without any expectation but next year we’ll have a mandatory component where they’ll have to accomplish so many per year,” he said. “We’ll poll the faculty to see what was helpful and get suggestions and feedback moving forward.”
As a teacher for 27 years, van Brunt knows the challenges faced by teachers when it comes to professional development. It’s hard leaving the classroom for the day, finding a sub, and playing catch-up once they’re back in the classroom. While not all teachers participated in the program, some teachers completed all the missions and others did the best they could.
“I love professional learning. I love to learn new things and try new things in the classroom,” van Brunt said. “We get stagnant if we don’t continue learning. This is a great way to continue to learn.”
Smith is disappointed he won’t be able to see the fruition of the project as he’s leaving VHS at the end of the school year to be the principal at Northridge High School in Layton. “I just love [the program]. I’m so excited about it and I’m bummed that I’m leaving. I’d love to be here next year for the next step.”