Professional Circles

(OWL CONSTITUENTS ONLY- Lindenhurst, North Babylon, Wyndanch)

Professional Circle Q & A

What is a Professional Circle?

A Professional Circle is a group of educators that comes together around a common goal, need, interest or question. There is a shared commitment to the purpose of the group. A Professional Circle involves shared decision making, voluntary participation and a commitment over time. Circles support the work of educators within a special subject area, grade level, or by interest. Circles are an alternative to traditional courses in that they give control over professional learning to the participants.

How is a Professional Circle conducted?

An educator comes up with an idea for a Professional Circle. The idea must have a solid rationale based upon a need or interest shared by the participants who will be invited to join the Circle. The group selects a facilitator who is responsible for submitting the application for the Circle to the Teacher Center. The Circle is submitted for approval. Once approved, the facilitator receives appropriate documents to begin. The group must meet for a total of 15 hours, either online, in person, or a combination of both. All meetings must be held outside of school hours. Upon completion of the 15 hours of work, a sharing piece is submitted to the teacher center.

What is a Sharing Piece?

The sharing piece should reflect the work and implementation efforts of the Circle. The Center is flexible in what constitutes a sharing piece. We give participants many choices in how to share the learning that has taken place with other teachers. Typically, the Circle creates something, such as a unit of lessons, a strategy for instruction, a report on research or data that informs instruction, etc. A slide presentation, a report in a google doc, and other means of sharing are all acceptable. The final sharing piece will be uploaded to the OWL website for other teachers to download and replicate.

What do the participants get for their time and work?

The facilitator can receive $600 and one inservice credit (15 CTLE hours), or no stipend and 2 inservice credits (30 CTLE hours).

All other participants receive one inservice credit (15 CTLE hours).

What are the benefits of participating in a Professional Circle?

Participants can select their own topics.

  • The entire process is self-directed and specific to the needs of the group

  • Teachers get to collaborate, bringing their various teaching styles and strategies to the table. Thus they learn from one another.

  • It is a non-threatening environment for educators to seek support from their peers.

  • Job embedded learning offers practical, relevant and customized professional learning.

  • Integration of material developed by the Circle may have a strong impact on teaching practice of participants and others who may borrow the sharing piece in the future.

What is the role of the Facilitator?

The facilitator:

  • is responsible for submission of the application.

  • keeps the Circle focused and on task.

  • sets the time and place of meetings with input from the group.

  • makes sure every member of the Circle is aware of the $50 fee and payment options

  • begins sessions promptly and sets the tone of the meeting.

  • takes attendance and submits it to the Teacher Center along with all other required documents.

  • serves as a mediator during group discussions.

  • provides any necessary materials for the group’s work, such as articles, documents, websites, apps, etc.

  • closes each session with a group reflection on what was accomplished and what is expected for the next session.

  • curates the sharing piece and shares it with the group and the director.


Why is there a $50 fee for joining a professional circle?

The Teacher Center is able to offer many more programs and opportunities because we collect fees. The revenues we collect help to cover the cost of instructor/facilitator stipends. We do not make a profit, but rather offset the cost of operations so that we can provide a wider selection of workshops, courses, and professional circles. Almost all of our offerings have a fee in order for us to be able to serve you throughout the year, from July through June.

The facilitator does NOT pay a fee.

How can participants pay the $50 fee?

Participants may submit a $50 check payable to: Lindenhurst PS/OWL

Write “Pro-Circle” in the memo field, and send it to the Center in the Administration Bldg.

OR

Pay with School Bucks at the link provided in the facilitator’s packet.

All payments must be made within one week of the start of the first session.

What is the time frame for a Professional Circle?

The Circle must be conducted within the school year that it begins. Meetings can be weekly, monthly, or any other time span that is agreed upon by the participants. All Circles must work together for a total of 15 hours.

Are the entire 15 hours spent in group sessions, or can part of the hours be spent doing independent research?

A minimum of 10 hours must be spent working as a group. A maximum of 5 hours may be spent doing independent research approved and assigned by the facilitator as part of the collaborative effort of the Circle. Hours completed independently must be reported to the facilitator and recorded on the attendance sheet along with meeting hours.

How many people can join the Professional Circle?

A minimum of 5 and a maximum of 10 people can join a circle.

How do we plan our Professional Circle?

  • Choose a topic and find a focus that every participant agrees will benefit from an in-depth study.

  • Articulate your rationale.

  • Develop your guiding questions by asking the group:

      • What do you want to know or be able to do when you finish the Circle?

      • What is it you want your students to know or be able to do when you complete the Circle?

      • Don’t create more than 2-3 guiding questions.

      • Your guiding questions may have sub questions.

  • Decide on your schedule of meeting dates and times and if meetings will be virtual, face to face, or hybrid.

  • Establish group rules regarding commitment, sharing, attendance, and expectations from each member.

  • The Facilitator will submit the application when ready. He/she will receive an email confirmation if and when the application is approved.

What kind of documents will the facilitator need to fulfill his/her role?

The facilitator will receive

  • an attendance sheet that will be used for each meeting.

  • a log to report the progress made at each meeting.

  • forms to fill out for payroll.

  • a brief evaluation form to be distributed to participants at the end of the 15 hours.

If you have further questions or concerns after reading the above, please feel free to email the director at jbova@lufsd.org.