Professional development is a process of continuous growth, through involvement in programs, services, and activities designed to enable teachers, both individually and collectively, to learn and grow professionally in order to enhance teaching and learning. (BCTF definition of Pro-D)
Professional Development assists teachers in
- Building and strengthening themselves as a body of professional teachers.
- Developing, revising, and implementing educational theories that can be applied to the practice of teaching.
- Reviewing, improving, and implementing curriculum and instructional development with the aim of improving the quality of teaching.
- Establishing better relationships with students and parents. (BCTF Policy Sec. 30.A.01)
History of Professional Development Days
In 1972, Professional Development days (non-instructional days) were added to the school calendar at the request of the teaching profession after years of advocacy from the BCTF. The inclusion increased the number of days of work for teachers with no loss of instructional days for students. Pro-D days in the school calendar recognized that teachers needed time during the school year to hone their skills, improve practice, and stay current with changes related to teaching and learning. (BCTF Training Resources handbook 2007-08 p. 63.)
Teachers have professional autonomy over their own professional development, both collectively and individual; however, teachers are accountable for using their Pro-D time responsibly. The VBE and the VTF (both VSTA and VESTA), have agreed to the following principles regarding self-directed professional development:
- That Self-Directed Pro-D plays a valuable role in the full complement of a teacher’s professional development.
- That teachers have a professional responsibility to plan their own self-directed Pro-D.
- That a written plan should be submitted to the school Pro-D committee in advance of the Pro-D day (timeline to be determined by the school Pro-D committee). This assists the school Pro-D committee in planning.
- That the Administrator, as a member of the school Pro-D committee, has access to teacher’s self-directed plans.
The Administrator may view teacher’s Self-Directed Pro-D plans, however, the Administrator is not to approve, or evaluate these plans.
Self-Directed Pro-D plans should be kept in confidence by the school Pro-D committee.
School Administrators do have the right to know the whereabouts of teachers on Pro-D days.
Administrators do not have the authority to direct or control a teacher’s professional development activities.
Administrators do have one Administrative Day per year when they are able to plan the Pro-D activities for their school staff, and staff are required to attend. Should a teacher wish to attend a different Pro-D activity on this day, they should discuss this with the Administration prior to the activity.
Funding for Professional Development
In Vancouver, there are 3 funds available to support professional development.
The Joint Conference Fund and Professional and Staff Development Fund are available in schools:
Joint Conference Fund: for individual teachers to apply for funds to attend workshops or conferences for their own professional growth.
This fund generally covers conference costs, and BCTF PSA membership dues.
Professional and Staff Development Fund: used to plan Pro-D activities for whole staff or staff groupings.
This fund generally covers speaker and workshop costs etc.
Each school professional development committee (which is a sub-committee of Staff Committee) determines its own funding policy.
Generally, neither fund covers travel, accommodation, transportation, parking, or food costs. If these costs are involved, it is suggested that the teacher discuss the matter with their administrator to determine whether additional funding may be available from another source.
Pro-D funds cannot be used towards educational courses where the teacher will receive credits.
Teacher Collaborative Inquiry Fund provides release time for groups of teachers at a school who wish to collaborate on a group inquiry project or question related to student learning and/or the improvement of professional practice. Some release time is allocated to cross-school groups.
This fund is allocated to schools through annual application process; amounts based on enrollment FTE.
See VSB Professional Development – Funding (pdf) for a description of each fund.
Temporary Supplemental Pro-D Fund
The Temporary Supplemental Pro-D Fund is
- an opportunity for teachers to access Professional Development funds in addition to the school based and Collaborative Inquiry funds already available
- a fund to enable groups of teachers and individual teachers to engage in professional development activities and opportunities
- equally available to full time and part time contract teachers
Provides the opportunity for a teacher to determine his/her own learning goal(s), identify activities and resources required to pursue these activities, commit the time to pursue these activities, and reflect on what is learned, in order to enhance his/her own professional expertise.