Dr. Douglas L. Ragland
Retired Superintendent of Schools
As a retired superintendent, I will reflect on professional development I provided to myself, and my staff since my retirement a few years ago. M y professional development was done by an outside evaluator in achieving 13 Knowledge and Skills Areas. I worked collaboratively with my administrators, and school board in achieving those goals set for me as well as providing them tools to evaluate me via a survey. The activities I participated in helped me tremendously in achieving district goals, and furthering my competencies as an educator leader because I had to manifest documentation and growth in those 13 knowledge and skills areas that positively impacted all schools, departments, the school board, parents, and the community at large. I received excellent evaluations and we always met the highest academic standard district wide, had all personnel in the district certified and highly qualified, exceeded the state’s requirement in financial reserves, received excellent financial audits, and last but not least had great community and parental involvement in our schools and district as a whole. I was very willing and did receive assistance from my teachers support personnel, principals, central office staff, and school board on improvement issues for me and the district. I subscribe to the philosophy that I want everyone involved in collaboration without fear of reluctance to give me insight or disagree with me. My philosophy was if everyone agrees with me then only one person is thinking and our perspective will be very limited. I was evaluated by my staff and school board via surveys and my state evaluator evaluated me via structured interviews, and portfolio documents. If I had evaluations from sectors of the community, and parents I could have received even more feedback from different perspectives and this certainly would have been more meaningful feedback. As superintendent in two school systems, I provided a plethora of professional development locally statewide, and nationally for my teachers, principals, central office workers and myself in achieving our system goals in reference to school improvement plans, student achievement, and personal goals for development in enhancing one’s skills and competencies. As a result of the aforementioned training, we met and exceeded goals in student achievement at all grade levels, developed and incorporated professional initiatives in technology such as Alabama Math and Science Technology Initiative, the Reading Initiative, Technology that Work, Middle Schools that Work , and High Schools Initiatives to name a few. These initiatives were key components in enhancing our state and national assessment scores, and provided confidence and more knowledge for our teachers to be successful in carrying out successful strategies in their individual classrooms, which ultimately led to great success in the classroom, school, district and state and national levels. In reference to feedback, we always evaluated all activities and allowed for open communication if some programs and activities we presented were not received well. The ways we received meaningful feedback were to allow teachers and staff to present their areas of concern and positive feedback to administrators at the school and central office via surveys, during individual school faculty meetings, and professional development day activities. As superintendent, I received open communication from my principals and central office personnel on the views of their respective personnel on programs and strategies needed for student success, as well as those programs and strategies that were not beneficial to our overall goal in student improvement and preparing our students effectively to compete locally, statewide and nationally. As I reflect on changes that could ensure more meaningful feedback, I would create professional development days where I as Superintendent could dedicate a whole day in being accessible to teachers, staff and principals in each school, and as a result I will be receiving the feedback first hand and encouraging the process for teachers, support personnel and administrators to speak freely without fearing repercussions. I was extremely blessed to have teachers, staff and principals to work collaboratively with each other as well as myself, in achieving school, district state, and national goals and standards. The districts I served had teachers, staff, and principals to buy- in to the district goals and seek assistance from each other because they were involved from the beginning in the development and implementation of all initiatives. They understood our communication of emphasizing professional development in terms of development of mentoring programs for student and personal success, and this energized them to mentor and receive mentoring in enhancing their knowledge and skills, thus ensuring the success of their students In essence, these are my experiences and views in regards to Personal and Professional Learning.