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Why do we have so many PD days?

Sometimes I get questions from parents about why we have so many PD days, or why their child’s school gets out early on Thursdays. I hear from parents about the challenges this places on families, particularly in regard to child care.

As a parent scrambling for childcare on PD days, I understand the difficulty! Yet it wasn’t until I became a Trustee that I understood exactly what happens on those early-dismissal Thursdays and PD days.

I wish I had the chance to bring every parent and family with me to my morning meeting today.

Today I had the pleasure of attending part of our District’s Annual Results Review – the review of annual goals set by schools and school-groupings for continual improvement of student learning, how these goals are measured and the work to improve for the following year. I heard from principals across Edmonton Public Schools about their work on improving literacy and numeracy, improving staff capacity to serve students in need of specialized supports, and work to support the growing diversity of needs in the district. Principals spoke about the work they are doing to collaborate, they discussed in detail the professional learning undertaken on a regular basis to get better at their work, learn from experts and learn from each other. They spoke about how they are working on staying up-to-date with current evidence-based practice, conducting their own action research, and constantly discussing the implementation of best practice.

What I wish every parent and family knew was that Thursday afternoons, after teaching until 2pm our teachers and educational assistants gather to sharpen their skills and improve, share with one another what has been working and what hasn’t, plan lessons together and collaborate for the good of our students. On PD days, they are getting up early, taking charge of their professional learning and spending the day improving their skills for the next day when they’re in the classroom. Education is not static, it is constantly changing, and I’m inspired by the work being done to keep on top of it, to model the practice of life-long learning.