It didn’t take Shannon Bogle long to realize she wanted to be a teacher leader. Bogle has been with Hillsborough County Public Schools in Florida, the eighth largest district in the United States, for 17 years, starting as a K-2 classroom teacher. Within a few years, she was a K-5 reading resource teacher, where she coached teachers and helped build their capacity in reading instruction. She then got involved in professional development at the high school level, working with Title I schools.
Bogle then moved in to the district’s professional learning department and worked primarily with the induction of new teachers, eventually working her way to her current supervisory position. She’s also a Learning Forward “triple threat,” to borrow a sports term: Her district has been part of the Redesign PD Community of Practice, working on coherence and relevance as its problem of practice, and she’s working with the Learning Forward Academy and the Orlando Host Committee of Learning Forward’s 2017 Annual Conference.
When did you know you wanted to transition from classroom work to professional learning?
Working with teachers in this capacity had always been something I was interested in. I got a lot out of working with adults, and I really enjoyed it. And more so than administrative paths, my strength was clearly the development of teachers. I was very, very fortunate in that I was able to find a way to be a part of this professional development team, now going on 10 years.
How have the department and your role changed in those 10 years?
We’ve gone from doing a lot of district-based training to a model where teachers come out of their schools to our center to get training. We hope that they do some follow-up back at their sites with their resource teachers and their coaches or their administrators. But, because our district is so large, our staff doesn’t have the capacity to do that follow-up ourselves. … Our job now is to go into the schools and develop a strong site-based professional development plan that includes follow-up and implementation. Our goal, ultimately, is to build the capacity at every site so that they have people that can do those things at their site.
What professional learning challenge is your district currently working on?
Building that teacher capacity at school sites because, to district staff, it’s just impossible to support all 250 schools on a regular basis. Our goal is to build teacher capacity and get teachers to take those leadership roles from the classroom and be professional developers in their school sites.
What does a normal day look like for you?
[laughs] There is no normal day. Our division covers principals and assistant principals, so a typical time for me now would be collaborating with the leadership side — working with them on their projects as well as our projects, putting together learning opportunities for teachers, going to school sites and coaching principals through their professional development plan, helping them develop tools and training to support their work in their schools.
Given the diversity within your district, do you differentiate that training?
We do a lot of individualized training based on the needs of the schools. We work with the schools to gather data to figure out what that need might be. We work with our area leadership team [the district is divided into eight areas], like our principal coach and a generalist from the elementary department and then the professional development specialist as well.
That team works together to support schools with all of their needs, but the professional development specialist’s role is to support the professional development at the schools. The goal is to have a person in every area where that’s his or her only job. Eventually, the idea is that I would be supervising those professional development specialists by going out coaching — providing training and feedback and so forth.
How much did the community of practice work help?
What we developed through our [Learning Forward Redesign PD] Community of Practice was creating professional learning plans out of each school. This has been the first year that we’ve really used it districtwide. It’s still a work in progress, but I see principals starting to take hold of that idea of professional learning being at the forefront of their thinking and prioritizing it at their school site.
What drives those plans school-by-school?
Student achievement. The first thing we do when coming up with a design for a school is to get the data — all the data that we can bring to the table: student achievement data, observational data, surveys, or climate surveys. Student achievement is definitely at the center of all of our work.
Given that your problem of practice was coherence and relevance, this would become particularly important as you’re going to site-based professional learning, right?
Yes, but I think we’re just getting started. We’re definitely seeing more coherence and relevance at the site level. … And now we’re starting to back up and look at the district-level training and how we can continue to improve. But we’re certainly not done. To be honest, that’s why I wanted to join the [Learning Forward] Academy, because I felt like we made so many strides as being a part of the community, and I wanted to continue the learning.
And what will you be working on in the Academy?
Building teacher capacity. We’re basically working on our own teacher leader academies — instructional coaching across the district. There are a lot of components to it, and we’ll be working with the University of Florida so people can earn their instructional coaching certificates. … That way, we can build more of a systemic way of coaching in our district. I’m excited I’m going through that process with the Academy and that I can bring that thinking and learning back to our district.
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