Overview & Purpose


Current Demands on Teachers Outpace Capacity

The teaching profession continues to be a leaky bucket, losing more than 200,000 teachers each year” (Darling-Hammond, 2016). Between 19 and 30% of teachers leave within the first five years. Teachers with little or no preparation are two times as likely to leave. Retirements constitute less than 33% of those who leave teaching any given year. Only 33% of those who exit ever return to teaching (All data from the 2016 Learning Policy Institute report, “A coming crisis in teaching? Teacher supply, demand, and shortages in the U.S.”).

In a national study spanning 18 states and over 400 teachers, one of the four major reasons teachers leave the profession is because of “the scope of responsibilities and skills necessary to address the needs of today’s children and their families” (Michael & Wilkins, 2017).

The demands made on teachers outpace their capacity. Teachers are being asked to do more without proper training, skill development and the ongoing support necessary to ensure they are effective at what is being required of them.

For students to be successful, they need properly trained educators teaching them.

WNESU offers some professional development opportunities for teachers through Title IIA funding. However, this is not enough. The Integrated Field Review report produced by the Vermont Agency of Education (based on site visit October 25, 2017) recommends that,

1. WNESU examine their professional learning offerings to ensure all educators have equitable access to high quality professional learning opportunities.

2. WNESU should work to increase consistent implementation of the staff evaluation process as well as promote the value of the evaluation itself (pg. 7).

On this trajectory, our future is at best grim. It is up to WNESU to invest in, retain and support its employees. But, what do we need to do now?

Building Professional Capital from Within

We need to build professional capital from within WNESU. “Building professional capital is an opportunity and responsibility for all of us—from supporting and working with the teacher in the class next door, to transforming an entire system.” (Hargreaves, Andy. Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School. Teachers College Press. Kindle Edition)

“If you want a high-performing school system, a competitive economy, and a cohesive society, we need the very best, most highly qualified teachers who have a deep and broad repertoire of knowledge and skill in the schools that don’t have the luxury of screening out children.” (Hargreaves, p78)

“Professional capital is about collective responsibility, not individual autonomy; about scientific evidence as well as personal judgment; about being open to one’s clients rather than standing on a pedestal above them; and ultimately about being tough on those colleagues who, after every effort and encouragement, fall short of their professional.” (Hargreaves, Andy. Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School. Teachers College Press. Kindle Edition.)

The transferring of new learning theory into actual practice is much greater when educators participate and are engaged with their colleagues. But how can this be accomplished?

WNESU Center for Teaching & Learning

To address this need WNESU will: (1) appoint a WNESU Director of Professional Development, Training, and Programming who will (2) lead and manage the overall operations for Center for Teaching and Learning.

The primary goal of the director will be to build professional and personal capital for the faculty and staff in WNESU that is directly tied to student achievement and professional growth that supports the goals of WNESU. The Center for Teaching and Learning will serve as the operational hub.

The director will work successfully with internal employees (administrators, data facilitators, and coaches) and outside groups to translate organizational and departmental necessity into effective professional development initiatives. The director will develop and provide all WNESU employees with meaningful and relevant professional development and other essential training.

The big “where.” Conference room space will be made available in the WNESU central office to service as the initial Center. This space will provide a location for trainings and meetings. For larger groups, alternative venues will be used - embedded professional development will occur within classrooms.

In addition, the center will house a collection of teaching resources and materials that will be aligned to professional development offered by WNESU and will support WNESU programs and initiatives. There will also be a professional library for teachers to access current literature.