July 1, 2015
Online Journal - Professional Growth by Design
T. Z. Cousins, Principal, Greaves Adventist Academy: Montreal and Sartigan Campuses, QC

I once overheard two of my former university students making plans to delay taking a second semester elective so they would not have to face a certain professor. One of the young men remarked, "People have long gone to the moon, but nothing in his lectures reflects this!"
 
Agreeing, the other one said, "There should be a system in place that requires faculty to do in-service on a regular basis."
 
That was many years ago. Yet today this need is still lacking in some institutions.  This should not be. Entrenched in our Adventist value system is this fact: "Higher than the highest human thought can reach is God's ideal for His children" (White 18).
 
Furthermore, we have been cautioned that “Our ideas of education take too narrow and too low a range. There is need of a broader scope, a higher aim” (13).
 
These often quoted words from Ellen G. White support continual expansion of knowledge in all facets of life. Educators are entrusted with the mission of inspiring their students to learn at the highest levels possible. To accomplish this extraordinary teaching and learning, consistent, supervised professional upgrade is paramount. 
 
Many governments recognize that good teachers do not become great when they limit their craft to textbooks or degrees that are not periodically advanced. Here is what the Quebec government has mandated. Employers are to contribute the equivalence of one percent of each employee’s gross salary for staff professional development. Schools are required to schedule approximately sixteen pedagogical days per year. Over the past three years the Ministry of Education Recreation and Sports has bolstered its regulations by requesting proof that all funds and professional days are being used for their intended purpose.
 
The Education Act of Quebec makes a clear stipulation as to who is responsible for designing the professional growth program. "The principal is responsible for the management of the staff of the school . . . and . . . shall see to the organization of such professional development activities for the school staff as agreed with the staff. . ."  (96.21). 
                                                                 
To execute this program at Greaves, we have put in place a structure that makes in-service opportunities readily available. Annually, I request everyone to submit his or her personal learning goals along with a proposed budget.
 
Additionally, all teachers are required to retain memberships in professional organizations. It is expected that they will read the supporting journals, and, when possible, attend at least one conference per year. At the school level,specific topics are presented on pedagogical days; these topics target innovative techniques, implementation of new materials, safety, integration of faith and learning, and improvements in specific teaching and learning competences.
 
Leading by precept and example, administrators must also attend professional conferences and take courses to better equip us for our roles.  As we expand our knowledge and skills, we are better able to inspire our staff to invest in their own professional growth. 
 
The Education Department of the SDACC and the NAD are faithful in providing annual educational growth activities and purposeful conventions on a regular basis. However, it is exigent that overseeing is done at the school level to ensure that all educators take advantage of these opportunities.
 
Educational research has long confirmed that teaching quality and school leadership are crucial in raising student achievement. What better way for qualified educators to master their practice than by growing professionally in a strategic manner?         

References:
 
White, E. G. Education.  Mountain View, California: Pacific Press, 1952.
 
Education Act. Canada. Province of Quebec. Education. Publications Du Quebec. Comp. Éditeur Officiel Du Québec. N.p., 1 Apr. 2015. Web. <http://www2.publicationsduquebec.gouv.qc.ca/dynamicSearch/telecharge.php?type=2&file=/I_13_3/I13_3_A.html>.