In this week’s podcast episode of We Love Schools, Carole Dorn-Bell speaks with Bill Wade, Superintendent of Kirtland Local Schools. The two discuss professional development in small and rural schools and the challenges that small school systems face when it comes to professional development.

Wade has come up with unique ways to lead professional development in small and rural schools by narrowing the focus on their professional development programs.

Wade explains that Kirtland Local Schools is a small school system in northeast Ohio with 133 staff members, which includes 80 teachers. As a new superintendent last year, he evaluated how to narrow the professional development focus down to three elements. He wanted to be sure they were providing teachers with the tools to succeed, so the students could succeed.

Wade was able to narrow their professional development focus down to curriculum and instruction, effective instruction and literacy.

“We wanted to make sure that during this time when everything can be going in so many different ways in education, particularly professional development, we really wanted to focus our efforts,” Wade says. “We wanted to focus on ways to give our teachers tools to make them better and effective instructors.”

He says they were able to effectively look at themselves internally to come up with an effective strategy for professional development in the schools for the coming years.

Dorn-Bell mentions that she’s seen a lot of the same stories over the years from public schools.

“Public schools take repeated black eyes, and they’re not deserved,” Dorn-Bell says. “You’re doing such creative and innovative things, and you’re relying on your teachers as the professionals that they are to develop some of these programs and lead and guide them.”

Wade says that improving technology in the district has made a tremendous impact on improving the professional development at their school.

“When you can give teachers the resources, and the training, and the time necessary, they’ll excel,” Wade continues.

He also mentions that since Kirtland Local Schools is close to some larger school districts, they can share resources with each other. Sharing resources helps them be more efficient so that more money can stay in the classroom. These benefits can extend to professional development in small and rural schools.

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