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School district hosted professional development event during Thanksgiving break

PMG PHOTO: ASIA ALVAREZ ZELLER - Lake Oswego School District gathers in Lakeridge High School Auditorium for opening remarks of PD November. On Monday Nov. 25, while students were sleeping in for the first weekday since summer vacation, Lake Oswego School District teachers, specialists and administrators attended the first of a two-day professional development event affectionately called "PD November" by the district.

LOSD has been holding district-wide in-service events the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving since 2015.

Before that professional in-service was held on half days, which had drawbacks including constrained class time.

In her opening remarks on Monday morning, Superintendent Lora de la Cruz told the audience what she was thankful for this holiday season and asked the audience to turn to a neighbor and do the same.

She continued her speech and said that she believed that with both bold and bite-sized actions, each student can feel seen and known in the classroom.

She welcomed Principal Baruti Kafele, an educator and speaker from New Jersey, to give his keynote presentation on "Closing the Attitude Gap."

In his presentation he emphasized that high performing schools, such as those in Lake Oswego School District, require hardworking teachers who want to see each student succeed regardless of the amount — or lack of — privilege with which they might enter the classroom.

"We transform the thinking of young people while simultaneously convincing the teachers … those students can soar with the best of them," Kafele said.

He said he's done his research on Lake Oswego School District and he knows that 93% of students graduate high school. And that's good.

Kafele paused and said, "I'm here for the 7% of the population." He continued, "What if we could change attitude with that 7%?"

He defines the attitude gap as the gap between the students who have the will to achieve excellence and those who do not have it.

Likewise, it applies to "the gap between those educators who have the will to be amazing at their craft and those who do not."

Tuesday's schedule included sessions on early learning with the iPad, SPED (special education) 101 and Google Classrooms. Over 180 different sessions were held over the course of the two-day event. About 90 different speakers presented, most of which were from within the district.

Kristin Moore, math specialist at Lakeridge High School, helped organize the event. "I think having this two-day conference is really a unique way to do professional development," she said."What is most helpful is that you have the ability to choose what will impact you right here and now."

She said with a conference or professional development event that takes place in the summer, there are months in between when you learn something and when you can implement it in the classroom.

Having days during the school year dedicated to professional development means can go to a session the week of Thanksgiving, think about it over the weekend and put it into action the following Monday.

David Finkleman, eighth grade social studies teacher at Lakeridge Middle School and president of the Lake Oswego Education Association, also sees value in the way the district does professional development.

"I felt like I got to go to a nice variety of sessions. I learned some things I didn't know about," he said. Specifically Finkleman went to a few sessions on using iPads in the classrooms, which is new for him.

"The keynote was a lot about equity and inclusion and that's something that I think is on all of the teachers minds as we go forward," he added.

He said that he's teaching eighth grade U.S. history, and conducting his classroom through an equity lens is something he has to always be thinking about.

All in all he's proud of the work done in the district to provide meaningful professional development.

"I think it's been a great example of teachers and the district really working alongside each other as professionals to provide some quality professional development," Finkleman said.

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