In any healthy school, members of the school community consistently participate in professional development opportunities. Professional development can take many differences forms, but usually consists of attending conferences which offer a variety of educational topics to attending workshops which are focused on a very specific issue in education. Over the years I have participated in these types of professional development activities attending conferences and workshops that addressed issues such as curriculum development, supervision, the use of technology in education, education research, college advising and campus tours, and education leadership to name but a few. These types of conferences and workshops have always expanded my knowledge of educational issues and my role in education.
However, the greatest professional development activity that I have been involved in over the years is serving as a member of a visiting committee to another school as a part of their accreditation process. In order to receive or retain accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) schools are required, every six years, to undertake a lengthy self- study process that includes producing a massive report on all aspects of their school. When this report is completed, WASC assigns a team of educators from schools throughoutCaliforniato visit the school for three and a half days to confirm that the school’s self study actually reflects what is going on at the school. In the form of commendations and recommendations, the visiting accreditation committee gives the school feedback. These commendations and recommendations form the basis for WASC granting or renewing a school’s accreditation. While if might seem that the school is the sole beneficiary of the feedback in the process, visiting committee members benefit greatly from visiting other schools. Education can be a very isolating profession. Teachers, for the most part, focus exclusively what is going on in their own classroom and schools tend to focus on what is going on at their school only. Being able to visit another school for an extended amount of time and observe and discuss all aspects of life at that school is a rare opportunity in education. From ways that schools deal with health and safety issues to new curricular ideas,I always leave a school that I have visited with a wealth of information and new ideas. I also leave understanding that the challenges that my school deals with are not necessarily unique to Mid-Peninsula; every school deals with similar issues although they may manifest themselves in different ways.