As Bridgeport teachers, preparing our students for college and career in our evolving world requires that we constantly hone our craft. We are lifelong learners and crave the opportunity to grow as professionals. While professional development (PD) time is built into our Bridgeport Public School (BPS) contract, valuable hours set aside for teachers to learn and grow often go unused or are dedicated to inconsistent and disconnected workshops of poor quality. We therefore find ourselves adapting our teaching methods to countless new initiatives with little to no support. This causes confusion, as the lack of focus trickles down from the district to schools, from schools to teachers, and from teachers to students. Currently, we are not consulted on content, methods or delivery, which leads to both teachers’ and students’ needs not being met. This top-down structure leaves us disinvested in our professional development and builds a wall of distrust between the district and teachers on the ground.
Research shows that high-quality PD—that is tailored, collaborative and sustained—has a positive and significant impact on student outcomes. To ensure Bridgeport students graduate high school well prepared for college and career, the district must adopt evidence-based PD practices that better support us in meeting our students’ needs. Currently, administrators rate us as needing improvement in particular areas but do not provide opportunities to address those areas for growth. Teachers are then judged on achievement of these goals, even though we have received little to no support from the district or our schools.
Create and commit to a clear, actionable, student-focused vision for PD across the district.
Include teachers as active participants in selecting, leading and evaluating PD.
Adopt evidence-based PD practices district-wide that improve student outcomes.
- Require teachers to set personalized goals aligned to their evaluations, actively engage in targeted PD, and hold them accountable for applying new skills and making progress toward their goals.
About the Teacher Action Team
We are a diverse group of nine teachers from Bridgeport. We met for four weeks to review survey data, read and discuss research on models of high-quality professional development, draw on our own experiences and craft recommendations for the Bridgeport School District. The Teacher Action Team surveyed 100 Bridgeport Public School teachers, including E4E-Connecticut members and nonmembers, to gather critical input to inform our recommendations.