Net Exchange Response
Title: Professional development for learning supports staff
Date Posted: 7/20/2015
Question: We get frequent requests about planning continuing
professional development for student/learning supports professionals and also for covering learning
supports for all school staff (e.g., at schools, at conferences, etc). Below are a few ideas we regularly
Response: Continuing professional development about student/learning supports
needs to address both current concerns and encourage leadership in moving toward a unified,
comprehensive, and equitable system for addressing barriers to learning and teaching and reengaging
disconnected students. Moreover, all staff need to know more about how to help schools
develop learning supports so that teachers are no longer expected to carry so much of the burden for
enhancing equity of opportunity for students who are not doing well at school.
Here are some suggestions for a keynote and sessions (e.g., for a conference, for a year long
Keynote: Addressing Barriers to Learning and Teaching. Overview of the imperative for
improving student/learning supports in every school and the leadership actions needed to move
forward at every level.
- Establishing a Learning Supports Leadership. Creating a learning support leadership
team and an administrative leader at a school and at the district to focus on enhancing the
way available resources are used and to move toward developing a unified, comprehensive,
and equitable system of learning supports. (Stressing how to rethink operational
infrastructure at all levels and clarifying the difference between a leadership development
team and a case study-oriented workgroup.)
- Weaving Resources Together. How to map, analyze, and blend school resources and
weave in community resources at school, complex, and district levels to improve
student/learning supports through system development. This includes mapping and analyzing
current resources, identifying gaps, establishing priorities for system improvements,
enhancing school-community collaboration, and capitalizing on economies of scale.
- Avoiding Projectitis. Moving beyond a special project approach in pursuing high priority
problems (e.g., enhancing attendance, increasing school safety, dealing with learning,
behavior, and emotional problems). The emphasis is on embedding each priority into the
process of developing a unified, comprehensive, and equitable system of learning supports.
- Enhancing Classroom-based Learning Supports. Enabling support staff and volunteers to
work in classrooms to help teachers/students address classroom organization, dynamics, and
student needs in ways that reduce problems and increase learning (e.g., enhancing
personalized learning and special assistance, engaging disconnected students).
- Ending the Marginalization of Student/Learning Supports in School Improvement Efforts.
Strategies for ensuring student/learning supports staff are at key planning and decision
making table to ensure that strengthening learning supports is on the agenda and that
strategic plan are made for capacity building (e.g., resource allocation, professional
development, operational infrastructure changes, etc.).
Submit a request or comment now.
UCLA Center for Mental Health in Schools
Dept. of Psychology, P.O.Box 951563, Los Angeles, CA 90095.
email: firstname.lastname@example.org ~ web: http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu