• History of Professional Development at Peak to Peak

    2001-2006
    From the founding of the school in 2000, professional development was largely uniform for the K-12 staff and focused largely on curriculum development and establishing non-negotiable norms for instructional best practices.  In 2004, K-12 teachers began the formal process of creating individual SMART* goals tied to student achievement, instruction, and professional growth.  Goals were tied to individual performance evaluations as well as school-wide goals, and were documented on Professional Growth Plans (PGP).  Teachers met with their supervising principals at least three times annually to review and monitor progress toward the goals.  While the PGP document has been revised over the years, the K-12 practice of creating annual PGP goals on has continued.  Academic departments, grade levels, and teaching teams now also create common goals tied to larger, school-wide initiatives or key performance indicators from the strategic plan. 

    *Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound

    2007
    Tiered Professional Development was introduced as a new paradigm, intended to differentiate and make professional development meaningful for teachers with varied years of experience in education and at Peak to Peak.

    Peak to Peak adopted and continues to hold the following values:

    • A professional development model for educators that supports life-long learning across the spectrum of instructional mastery; i.e. a ‘teaching school’ where every faculty member – regardless of how experienced or novice – is dedicated to his or her professional growth, and seeks opportunities to expand and develop the ‘teaching toolkit’
    • Faculty members who regularly reflect on their practices and seek to improve them 
    • Professional development tailored to individual needs and school-wide goals
    • Shared expertise and collaboration between colleagues through the use of coaching, workshops, leadership, and targeted professional growth plans (PGPs)

    The faculty was divided into four tiers, each with specific expectations depending upon faculty members’ tenure at the school.  Included in this was Peak to Peak’s state-approved induction program for all teachers in their first year at the school. 

    • Tier One (Induction):  Teachers in their first year at Peak to Peak To Peak
    • Tier Two:  Teachers in their second year at Peak to Peak To Peak
    • Tier Three:  Teachers in their third year at Peak to Peak To Peak
    • Tier Four+:  Teachers who have been at Peak to Peak To Peak four or more years

     

    2008
    In response to a need for specific trainings in a variety of areas, Peak to Peak launched an on-going series of monthly workshops presented for teachers by teachers in order to:

        • model best practices for K-12 instruction
        • share content and skills between faculty
        • create choice and differentiate for faculty with varied needs
        • acknowledge and benefit from faculty as experts in their fields
        • promote collegial collaboration within the faculty
        • provide free professional development opportunities as a community service to university teachers-in-training and other education professionals
        • raise awareness of Peak to Peak among Colorado educators in order to expand the potential candidate pool when hiring for open positions

     

    2009
    Peak to Peak began formally partnering with other charter schools to provide state-approved induction and other professional development services in exchange for fees.  These partnerships provided mentoring, consulting, and leadership opportunities for Peak to Peak faculty and administration.  As a result of these external opportunities, teachers and administrators returned to Peak to Peak inspired by new insights and valuable experiences, which they then used as a lens through which to reflect upon and improve Peak to Peak’s own internal programs. 

    Peak to Peak began targeting and commissioning specific workshops from master teachers based on identified needs from principals and curriculum leaders, and tied to identified KPI goals. 

    Peak to Peak hosted the first annual Charter School Teacher Job Fair, the only teacher job fair in Colorado and the west exclusively for charter schools.  The annual event brings together approximately 40 charter schools and 600 teacher candidates on the Peak to Peak campus each March, and provides opportunities for schools and candidates to conduct face-to-face interviews and discuss career opportunities.  Peak to Peak’s Hiring and Organizational Development Committee (HOD) operates five interview tables each year and mobilizes the entire committee membership in order to accommodate the large number of interested candidates.  The committee conducts between 80-100 interviews throughout the day, and uses the event to attract the highest-quality teachers to Peak to Peak’s candidate pool. 

    2010
    In response to the growing demand for Peak to Peak’s charter school expertise and high-quality professional development services, the Board of Directors approved a pilot program to launch the Center for Professional Development (CPD).  The CPD was specifically charged with creating external leadership opportunities for Peak to Peak staff, while generating supplemental income for the school and providing a service to other educational institutions, provided there would be no negative impact on the learning experiences of Peak to Peak’s own students.   

    Through CPD partnerships, various Peak to Peak faculty mentored induction teachers from partner schools, facilitated workshops, and provided consulting in areas such as curriculum development and K-12 vertical alignment.  When surveyed as to their experiences, the faculty response was entirely positive and expressed appreciation for the professional development opportunities, citing specific examples of how their work with partner schools directly contributed to their own metacognitive reflection and resulted in increased instructional mastery in their own classrooms. 

    2011
    As a result of the successful pilot year, the board approved the Center for Professional Development (CPD) as a permanent entity to provide external induction and professional development services to partner organizations, in addition to continuing to provide internal professional development at Peak to Peak.     

    Principals surveyed faculty about their internal professional development needs.  The feedback from the K-12 staff was analyzed and combined with the identified goals of the leadership team in order to revise the Tiered Professional Development plan for 2011-12.  The following changes were implemented:

        • provide breakfast and lunch on PD days
        • eliminate mandatory summer reading for Tiers 2, 3, & 4
        • move mandatory after-school workshops to PD Days
        • create meeting time for Service Council on PD days
        • add more time for Response to Intervention on Early Releases
        • make induction workshop scheduling more predictable
        • add PLC support specifically for Tier 2 teachers
        • customize PD plans for Tier 4+ teachers

     

     2012
    Given the complexities of the CPD’s work providing leadership opportunities for Peak to Peak faculty as well as serving partner schools, the board and administration concluded that it no longer made logistical or financial sense to separate internal and external professional development provided to and by Peak to Peak faculty, and began categorizing all professional development under the CPD umbrella.

    Once again, faculty was surveyed about their internal professional development needs.  The feedback from the K-12 staff was analyzed and combined with the identified goals of the leadership team in order to revise the Tiered Professional Development plan for 2012-13.  The following changes were implemented:

        • creating time for K-12 teacher-led task forces on PD days
        • adding video self-observation expectations for Tiers 2-4
        • adding new PLC options
        • adding one-on-one instructional coaching opportunities
        • adding optional wellness sessions at the end of PD days
        • eliminating mandatory peer coaching for Tiers 2 & 3

    The CPD continued to focus on providing quality internal professional development, as well as solicit partner schools to create professional development leadership opportunities for Peak to Peak faculty and generate revenue for the school.  The CPD also entered into a memorandum of understanding to explore a pilot partnership with the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC), in order to provide faculty gratis opportunities for educational leadership coaching in return for Peak to Peak hosting coach training events on the school’s campus. 

    2013
    In 2012-13, the board of directors convened a CPD subcommittee that met during the fall and winter to discuss end-of-year net revenue options as well as CPD communication with stakeholders.  As a result of those meetings, the subcommittee clarified that the CPD’s first priority is to address Peak to Peak teachers’ professional development needs.  The threshold for the KPI relating to the CPD’s external partnerships is intentionally set at “positive net revenue” in order to account for years where internal needs may outweigh capacity for external partnerships.  The subcommittee recommended that in years when the CPD generates surplus revenue, the Education Leadership Team should meet in June to determine how the excess professional development funds be allocated and administered to qualified staff.  Because the amount of excess revenue may vary widely from year to year, the subcommittee advised against trying to create a one-year-fits-all process, and recommended approaching each year individually, depending on internal professional development needs assessments and the amount of funding available. 

    The pilot coaching program offered in collaboration with the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching ultimately resulted in the recommendation not to continue the relationship with iPEC and to focus efforts on other ways to provide professional development around coaching and leadership.  In the spring, the CPD facilitated a 12-hour series of coaching workshops offered on campus and attended by administrators from both Peak to Peak and other schools. 

    To keep Peak to Peak’s master teachers engaged in their own professional development, as well as raise the profile of the school, the CPD placed a new emphasis on encouraging faculty and staff to present sessions at professional conferences.  As a result, record numbers of Peak to Peak staff facilitated workshops on diverse instructional and operational topics at the following local and national conferences:   

        • Charter District Cooperative National Conference
        • Colorado Council International Reading Association Conference
        • Colorado Council of Teachers of Mathematics Conference
        • Colorado League of Charter Schools Conference
        • Intel International Science and Engineering Fair & Symposium
        • National Alliance for Public Charter Schools National Conference
        • National Association for Gifted Children National Conference
        • National Science Association Annual Conference
        • Professional Association of Colorado Educators Conference

    2014
    The results of the CPD’s annual internal professional development survey showed that faculty had:

    Appreciation for

        • K-12 professional development conversations and interactions
        • variety and quality of PLC offerings
        • time for teacher-led Task Force meetings
        • time for grade levels and departments
        • time at lunch on PD days to connect with colleagues

    Desire for

        • more support around new standardized assessments (PARCC)
        • better structure/guidance around K-12 common initiatives
        • unstructured work time on PD days

    To address faculty requests, changes were made to the design of the K-12 PD time, though the need for K-12 collaboration outweighed the benefits to providing unstructured work time on PD days. Professional Growth Plans (PGPs) were updated to include a new repository where staff could share and document achievements that might not otherwise be captured in their annual goals. Additionally, the Tier 4+ PGP was supplemented with a comprehensive list of suggestions for how to customize Tier 4+ goal work.

    The CPD continued to encourage and support faculty and staff to present sessions at professional conferences. Peak to Peak staff from across the K-12 levels and content areas facilitated workshops on diverse instructional and operational topics at the following local and national conferences:   

        • American Alliance for Theater and Education National Conference
        • Boulder Valley School District’s Technology in Education Learning Day
        • Boulder Valley School District’s Digital Innovative Learning Day
        • Charter District Cooperative National Conference
        • Colorado Art Education Association Conference
        • Colorado Congress of Foreign Language Teachers Conference
        • Colorado Council International Reading Association Conference
        • Colorado Council of Teachers of Mathematics Conference
        • Colorado League of Charter Schools Conference
        • Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center
        • InnEdCO Conference
        • Intel International Science and Engineering Fair & Symposium
        • National Alliance for Public Charter Schools National Conference
        • National Association for Gifted Children National Conference
        • National Science Teachers Association Conference
        • Professional Association of Colorado Educators Conference
        • Regional Organization of Colorado Kodaly Educators

    The Induction Program’s August training days were reorganized and expanded to provide a more balanced and thorough introduction to the research-based instructional best practices that are expected of all teachers at Peak to Peak. 

    2015-16
    Peak to Peak staff presented workshops, consulted, or published on a variety of topics with the following local and national institutions:

        • AdvancED
        • American Association of School Libraries Conference
        • Art in Public Places
        • Association for Middle Level Education Magazine
        • Boulder Valley School District’s Digital Innovative Learning Day
        • Boulder Valley School District’s Digi-Fest
        • CDE’s Charter School Support Initiative
        • Chalkbeat Colorado
        • Collegiate Crossings
        • Colorado ACT State Organization Conference
        • Colorado Association of Health, PE, Recreation and Dance Convention
        • Colorado Congress of Foreign Language Teachers Conference
        • Colorado Council International Reading Association Conference
        • Colorado Council of Teachers of Mathematics Conference
        • Colorado Education Initiative
        • Colorado Gifted and Talented Conference
        • Colorado League of Charter Schools
        • Colorado League of Charter Schools Annual Conference
        • Colorado Math Innovators’ Forum
        • Colorado School Counselor Association
        • Colorado School Counselor Association Annual Conference
        • Colorado Science Conference
        • Colorado Teen Literature Conference
        • Denver Post
        • Financial Literacy and Economic Education Conference
        • International Journal on E-Learning
        • International Society for Technology in Education Conference
        • Liquid Light Press
        • Massachusetts Review
        • Minerva College Board of Advisors
        • National Alliance for Public Charter Schools National Conference
        • Procurify
        • Regional Organization of Colorado Kodaly Educators
        • Second Wind Foundation of Boulder Valley
        • Tahoma Literary Review
        • Understanding Our Gifted
        • University of Colorado at Boulder

    Additionally, the K-12 instructional leadership team explored current research in effective teacher evaluation, and created a new evaluation tool and process modeled on those research-based best practices.  The goals of the new process were to a) more accurately and consistently assess educator performance, and b) identify areas of instructional strength and needs for professional development across the K-12 school. 

    Volunteer panels of K-12 educators participated in preliminary discussions and offered feedback during the drafting, and in 2015, the new evaluation process was piloted with a cohort of volunteer faculty members from across the K-12 school.  Participants were surveyed on their experience with the new model, and their feedback informed revisions and refinement of the tool. 

    In 2016, the new tool was rolled out to the entire staff, replacing the previous evaluation rubric, as well as the professional growth plans used by teachers in the different professional development tiers.  Through the implementation of the new evaluation process, it became clear that the tiered professional development program had naturally and appropriately evolved into a more differentiated and customized approach to meeting the professional development needs of individual faculty members.  The leadership team decided to update the language of professional development to reflect that evolution, and the term “Differentiated Professional Development” replaced “Tiered Professional Development.”

    2016-2017
    Peak to Peak staff presented workshops, consulted, or published on a variety of topics for a wide variety of local and national institutions.  Click here for a complete list.

    An additional professional development day was added to the academic calendar, and the agendas for those days included new initiatives for K-12 time to watch and discuss education-related TED talks, and a Google-inspired “Genius Hour.”  Time continued to be prioritized for school levels and department/grade level work, as well as Teacher-led Task Forces and Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s).  The PLC’s were facilitated by teachers, counselors, and administrators, and focused on the following topics:

        • Backward Design Thinking
        • Culturally Responsive Teaching
        • Getting Things Done
        • Induction 2.0
        • Induction Written Reflections
        • K-8 Math
        • Leveraging Cognitive Diversity
        • MATLAB
        • National Board Certification
        • Peak Option
        • Resiliency for Wellness
        • Thinkcubator
        • Trauma-informed Teaching

    Additionally, the new formal evaluation tool was fully implemented across the K-12 instructional staff, and used to capture information that was previously contained in both the old evaluation rubric and the Professional Growth Plan tools. 

    2017-2018
    Peak to Peak staff presented workshops, consulted, or published on a variety of topics for a wide variety of local and national institutions.  Click here for a complete list.

    Capitalizing on momentum from the previous year’s use of educational TED Talk videos to inspire conversation among K-12 faculty, professional development days dedicated K-12 time to feature teachers who volunteered to create and present original TED Talks to their colleagues.  Teachers from all three school levels presented nine K-12 TED Talks over the course of the school year.  Topics included innovation, implicit bias, collaboration, diversity, and inclusion, among others. 

    Within the professional day agenda, time continued to be allocated for level and department meetings, Teacher-led Task Forces, Genius Hour, and Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s).  The philosophy behind the purpose of the PLC’s was revisited to ensure alignment with DuFour’s definition:

    “In a professional learning community…educators create an environment that fosters mutual cooperation, emotional support, and personal growth as they work together to achieve what they cannot accomplish alone.”  (DuFour xii)

    Toward that end, PLC facilitators were asked to incorporate the following questions in the design of their PLC’s: 

    What’s our working essential question for the PLC?
    What are we chasing after?  What’s our edge?
    How are we challenging each other and reflecting together?  
    How might we include guest experts in the discussions?  
    How are we pushing our comfort zones?  
    Where is the research connection?  
    Where is the connection to P2P’s strategic plan?  
    How do the students benefit from the work of the PLC?   
    How will we prevent “sit and get” models? 
    How will we include everyone’s voice in the conversation?

     PLC’s were facilitated by teachers, counselors, and administrators, and explored the following topics:
        • Autism: Research and Practice
        • Brain Broccoli: Practicing Mindfulness
        • Classroom Design
        • Cultural Proficiency & Inclusion
        • Depth and Complexity
        • Induction 2.0 and Beyond
        • Induction Written Reflections
        • The Innovation Lab
        • Thinkcubator
        • Yale/Indigo Research

    As is typical in the professional development calendar, the first PD day in April provided time for a menu of teacher-led workshops covering a variety of topics.  Because of some staff concern about instructional and curricular challenges related to the new secondary block schedule rolling out for 2018-19, some workshops focused specifically on strategies related to pedagogy and engagement, as well as on strategies for differentiating and engaging diverse learners.  The workshops were so well received that they were offered again on the second PD day in April, so teachers could benefit from attending more than one.  The tradition of teacher-led workshops comes from the school’s belief in teacher-as-expert and the value of collegial collaboration around the challenges of the profession.  

    To Conclude
    Through the work of the differentiated Professional Development Program, the Induction Program, the Charter School Teacher Job Fair, and the Center for Professional Development, Peak to Peak continues to strive to meet the professional development needs of its world-class teaching staff.  As an educational institution proud of being a ‘teaching school’, Peak to Peak is committed to the on-going growth and development of its faculty, and to continuing to set the standard for excellence in Colorado’s charter community and beyond.