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Traversing the Partnership: Professional Development with Andrea Gilbert

May 2, 2021

     Andrea Gilbert is the Assistant Superintendent of Converse County School District #1, and she has been working to fulfill the professional development needs of her staff throughout the school district. When meeting with Andrea, she introduces herself as a person with a great appreciation for research and this mentality is seen throughout the work she has done.

     One of the things she has done is created the groundwork for an instructional cycle based on the Professional Learning Communities (PLC) framework. This cycle is around 3-4 years long and is broken down into three sections: defining the learning needed, assessing learning resources, and then responding accordingly. Currently, Converse County School District #1 is in its instructional response stage and has received positive feedback on the resources being provided to staff. One of the largest reasons for this is because they take that personalized approach recognizing the different needs among their staff in relation to subjects taught, grade levels, and communities served. This cycle came into creation out of numerous talks with educational leadership and instructional coaches within the school district.

     When asked about how this approach might apply to other communities, she noted the positive potential is that the framework and cycle provide a guide for implementation, evaluation, and updating as needed. She also said these meetings are key because sometimes the big picture approach sounds nice, but it is important to hear from principals and staff on what that means when actually applying these ideas. Gilbert pointed to the importance of resources that helped her along the way when making this change, such as the book “Personalized Professional Learning” by Allison Rodman. This process is one of communication and self-reflection, which is key with any facet of the education system.

     Lastly, she reminds us all that it is important to believe in the teachers and ensure that everyone is on the same page. She highlighted just how impressed she is with the community support of schools and believes that there is so much that educators in this state offer to students. Also, she is overjoyed in the opportunities provided by the Hathaway scholarship so that students have more accessibility to community colleges and the University of Wyoming. She also ended on this important highlight:

      “I would hope Wyoming continues to honor its great tradition of education and move away from the negativity prevalent right now. Recognize and honor teachers and leaders who are doing outstanding work. Just imagine a world without education and without teachers.”
Thanks go out to this professional development research lover with a love for Wyoming nature who is doing the work to connect with people throughout her school district. If you would like more information on the instructional cycle Andrea Gilbert created or other pieces of research she has gathered, please reach out and we would be happy to connect you to her.

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