An E-newsletter on EXCELLENCE in Leadership

Professional Development NAD Principals’ Handbook Excerpt 


Professional Development

The principal should assume an active role in providing professional growth activities for the faculty and staff individually and collectively. These activities should be planned and provided to help teachers:

  • Implement necessary changes revealed by disaggregation of student-achievement data.
  • Develop competency in curriculum development.
  • Broaden subject area knowledge.
  • Improve instructional methods and techniques that meet the varying needs and learning styles of students.

Teachers should be encouraged to join national professional organizations in their respective disciplines and provide opportunity to attend the national conventions and local workshops.

What Can I Do for Professional Growth?

  • Join a professional organization.
  • Read professional journals and books.
  • Attend conventions and workshops.
  • Complete graduate coursework.
  • Participate in accreditation visits.
  • Visit a variety of schools to network and see what is working.

February 2018 | Volume 6, No. 6

School-wide Professional Growth

Robert Robinson | Principal/Teacher, Bayside SDA Christian School




 A school-wide professional growth plan for a school of any size should remain focused on engaging students with the goal of improving student learning. Creating an effective school-wide professional growth plan takes time and effort in planning, implementation and evaluation.

Creating a series of sequential steps will help ensure that a successful school-wide professional growth program is implemented at school.

  1. Confirm needs. As a faculty, brainstorm the greatest needs of your students. These can be done by reviewing the IOWA Assessments, other formative and summative assessments, and anecdotal observations. Create a list of what prevents your students from reaching their full potential. Avoid creating a professional growth plan that does not include input from your teaching staff.
  2. Collaborate and create consensus. From this list of ideas and needs, “zero in” on critical content and instructional issues. Identify a singular area of the teaching-learning process that will benefit the greatest amount of students.
  3. Connect with others. In a small school, do not feel you have to grow in isolation. Use technology to connect with other teachers in your conference or union and work together on a shared professional growth plan.
  4. Craft a plan. Determine how to best achieve the desired end result for your teachers and students. Work collaboratively to create a continuous process that will identify the professional activities, resources, and/or funding needed to achieve your goals. Nothing becomes dynamic until it becomes specific. Break your professional growth plan into manageable pieces that provide strategies and skills that can be quickly implemented in the classroom. Avoid overwhelming teachers.
  5. Calendar on purpose. Our choices control our calendar. To make professional development a reality, schedule it with intentionality. Staff meetings may not be the best time to grow your staff. Look for ways to include staff development days as you prepare your annual school calendar. Some schools utilize a retreat during the summer—free from classroom distractions. With intentional scheduling, you will find just enough time to make professional growth a priority in your calendar.
  6. Collect data. As you begin to implement your professional growth plan, begin capturing some of the “aha” moments where things begin to make sense for you and your students. Document the growth and engagement that you see. Look for connections on how your professional growth plan directly impacts teaching and learning. Encourage each other in this learning and growing process.
  7. Congratulate your colleagues. At the end of your professional growth plan, include time to reflect on all you have learned. Identify ways you have grown professionally in order to better reach the need of the students. Spend time evaluating what worked well and what needs to be revised or changed for next year. Congratulate each other for the commitment to grow together as a staff and celebrate your accomplishments. Finally, share with your community what you have been doing school-wide to impact student learning.

School-wide professional growth needs to be carefully planned in order to have a lasting impact on our students and teachers. In the process of growing professionally, we find new ways to reach our students.

PD by the


Jim C Weller | Principal, Junior High, Loma Linda Academy



I was looking for a tribe, but I found professional development.

In my first full-time principalship I discovered loneliness. A popular myth among teachers is that when a person enters administration, he or she immediately loses all knowledge about teaching. This helps create an “us/them” mentality which edges the principal towards the social fringe. As a new principal, I was lonely. I needed some professional homies.

“We will be reading Edwin Friedman’s Generation to Generation, a classic on family systems theory. You are welcome to join us,” the pastor invited me.

I thought, “Systems theory, Hmm… but, join us…”

“Yes! I will come!” I exclaimed.

So began my weekly book readings with a group of pastors. I learned two things: 1) Principals and pastors share a lot of the same challenges, especially when viewed through the lens of family systems theory. 2) Book study in a group can be a powerful form of professional development and personal bonding. I was hooked.

Anything that improves your game is professional development. That includes those moments in traffic where you are free to reflect on events. Such reflection turns events into experience, and that alters the way you work. In studying books with others, personal reflections on work are invariably shared. Each member of the study group grows in the wisdom that comes from shared experience. In this way, book studies offer a condensation of professional experience, along with whatever the author was intending to present.

At my current school there are four principals and a headmaster, and we try to read and discuss a book each year. What makes it work? Perhaps we are a bit lonely in our administrative roles and need a tribe. Perhaps sharing in the choice of our topic for the year increases our buy in.

My experience has been that principal-led book studies with teachers often meets with a response that is lethargic at best. If you would like to try such a venture, you might look for an issue that concerns the teachers to the point of motivation. Then you might engage them in choosing a book that addresses the felt need. Or you may do better to find teachers who want to set up a book study group of their own and give them a budget.

In the meantime, do not overlook your own need to connect with administrative peers, whether in your own school, across the conference, or online. Look for a topic that appeals to your new administrative tribe and begin reading, reflecting, and sharing your thoughts. It is an affordable way to grow in experience to stay connected to a support group.

Side by Side

Pacific Union Conference Collaboration



 How can pastors and educators join forces to support each other and further the mission of the Church in educating students for eternity? The conferences in the Pacific Union are being intentional to provide opportunities for church pastors and school educators to work together. One way this is being accomplished is by facilitating joint professional development, which comes in many forms.

The Events
The Education and Ministerial departments of the Central California Conference collaborated in providing a three-day retreat that focused on the theme “Empowered—Together as One.” Pastors and educators met to consider ways to strengthen churches and schools through combined efforts of pastors, church members, educators, and students. Considerable emphasis was placed on how to engage students in the work of the church that would lead to a lifetime commitment to and involvement in, the church and its mission. At least two initiatives were recommended that could facilitate what the participants hoped to accomplish.

  • Assess the school’s spiritual climate. Where are students in respect to their daily walk with Jesus and their understanding of the mission of the Church?
  • Develop and implement a school spiritual plan that would involve both the church and school in structuring a mission statement, provide spiritual leadership planning opportunities for students in both church and school, and afford training for students so they would have the skills needed to carry out their leadership roles.

Hawaii Conference teachers and pastors gathered together in 2016 for an active shooter training. The purpose of the day was to share information about the latest strategies in keeping communities safe should tragedy hit. While no one wants or even anticipates this type of catastrophe occurring on school property to vulnerable faculty and students, reality has demonstrated that it does happen, and is increasing at an alarming rate. The importance of being prepared was realized by all who participated.

Another opportunity for professional development came in the form of the new elementary Bible curriculum—Encounter. Hawaii pastors and teachers worked shoulder-to-shoulder in learning new curriculum and working on how to reach youth through daily encounters with Jesus and His Word. Everyone left inspired and ready to serve… together.

In collaboration between the Education Department and Conference administrators, the Arizona Conference decided last school year to bring all teachers and pastors together for the first time in more than a decade for a full day of reflection and networking. The event was held at Thunderbird Academy campus, giving the pastors a chance to know their academy, which some of them had never visited before.

The Southeastern California Conference completed the second year of professional growth event of bringing together pastors and educators for a day of learning and wellness. The event involved a keynote address, breakout sessions on a variety of topics ranging from virtual reality learning in the classroom setting to cooking. The day was rounded out with physical activity and time to relax with colleagues. Truly a day of refreshment and rejuvenation!

Northern California Conference held their annual one-day retreat for pastors and educators to discuss the collaboration of team building for the health, benefit, and spiritual welfare of their students.

The Outcomes
The feedback from these events has been nothing but positive, resulting in the following outcomes:

  • Pastors and educators feel more empowered to work in concert with each other to enrich the spiritual lives of students through their combined intentional efforts.
  • Students interacting as comfortably with the pastors as they do their teachers.
  • Pastors are a “normal” part of the school campus, and not just visitors who show up for special occasions.
  • Schools with increased enrollment as pastors advocate for the schools.
  • Churches with more participation from teachers at church-related functions such as Vacation Bible School or evangelistic events.
  • True collaboration as pastors and teachers network and pray together.

Teaching principal Dolly Milholland shared the impact this partnership is having at her school,

"Having a team of school leaders (pastor, teachers, and school board) in my school has built a stronger relationship for the benefit of our students!"

Newsletter Coordinator

Berit von Pohle

Pacific Union Conference,
Director of Education

Newsletter Editors

Berit von Pohle, Editor

Pacific Union Conference, Director of Education

Ed Boyatt, Editorial Advisor