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Staff Professional Development

REI: Staff Professional Development

We are committed to ongoing professional development to strengthen each staff member’s understanding of social justice, racial equity and anti-racist practices.

Over the last several years, many district employees have engaged in professional development related to culturally responsive practices, instructional best practices, unconscious bias and discipline gaps. More training is needed for continued growth and improvement for teachers and support staff throughout the organization. Professional development activities are designed to build understanding and commitment to these essential causes.  

We believe that lasting and meaningful change requires time, expertise, effort, discomfort and support while we learn together.  We are currently in the process of implementing a long-term training plan that, over time, will provide effective professional development to the more than 600 staff members on our team. As we implement and adjust this plan we will be listening to the guidance of experts in the field who have helped other school districts to shift culture and embrace anti-racist practices and beliefs. We will also be listening to parents, parent-leaders, students and colleagues with experience, passion and insight into these critical areas.  

  • 2022-2023

    A Shift to Building-Based Teams 

    While we maintain a district focus on equity and antiracist principles, some of our efforts have shifted to work completed at the building level. In 2021, we dedicated a budget to buildings to allow them to establish an equity team at the school level in order to provide leadership, guidance and promote professional learning specific to the needs of the staff in each building. Listed below are some examples of this year’s professional development related to learning by building equity teams. 

    1. Primary building equity teams are reviewing and implementing best practices related to strategies and scaffolds to support students who are historically marginalized. One primary school’s team is also leading a book study for staff, with a text titled: Being the Change: Lessons and Strategies to Teach Social Comprehension. The goal for this book study is to give staff resources and ideas regarding how to build stronger relationships with students.
    2. Intermediate building equity teams are reviewing when and how our SEL (Social Emotional Learning) curriculum (Second Step) is implemented to ensure all students have access to SEL lessons. These teams also shared resources with staff to highlight diverse voices during different recognition months.
    3. Curtis Junior High engaged in a focus group with their Black Student Union, where they listened to student perspectives and experiences at their school. The Curtis High School equity team also engaged in a book study with a book titled: Despite Best Intentions: How Racial Inequality Thrives in Good Schools, to continue to expand their own knowledge-base.

    Additional district-wide professional development offered in 2022-2023 included the following: 

    1. Paraeducators participated in equity training this past summer on topics such as: equity literacy, discrimination awareness, sensitivity awareness, and conflict management.
    2. Teachers, building administrators, and paraeducators participated in training on accommodations, modifications, and effective instructional practices. These trainings provided staff with information on inclusionary practices, designed to increase access to learning for historically marginalized students.
    3. Principals in each building led professional development sessions on equity. Topics in these sessions were centered on the following:
      • Commitment to equity and equitable practices
      • Understanding discrimination
      • Understanding of self and others
      • Building of positive relationships
      • Leading for educational equity
  • November 2021
    The UPSD Equity Advisory Committee provided feedback on training topics that would be most beneficial for upcoming equity training for classified staff. Feedback was collected via Google survey. Possible training topics included in the survey were:       

    • Identifying Our Own Racial Biases
    • Having Difficult Conversations
    • Racial Equity (Part 2 in the Training Series)
    • Ditching Deficit Ideology

    August 2021

    1. Building principals participated in consultation work with consultants from the Equity Literacy Institute to plan for next steps in equity work for each school building.
    2. Certificated teachers who were new to UPSD participated in Equity Literacy Basics training. This initial training provided a background on equity, expectations, and an entry point for future training. These sessions were facilitated by the trainers from the Equity Literacy Institute.
    3. Certificated teachers participated in additional Equity Literacy Training.  Teachers attended training sessions of their choice and could choose from the following training sessions:
    • Engaging Youth in Racial Justice Work
    • Teaching Racial Justice in the Classroom
    • Examining Our Own Racial Biases
    • Having Difficult Conversations in the Classroom (New Session)

    July 2021
    Certificated teachers participated in additional Equity Literacy Training.  Teachers attended training sessions of their choice and could choose from the following training sessions:    

    • Engaging Youth in Racial Justice Work
    • Examining Our Own Racial Biases
    • Ditching Deficit Ideology and Quitting Grit
    • Having Difficult Conversations in the Classroom (New Session)
  • UPSD will plan for additional certificated and classified staff equity training for summer 2023.

Annual SafeSchools Trainings on Diversity, Discrimination & Equity

In 2018, the district began requiring all employees to engage in training annually on a variety of topics.  Each year, staff engage in online training related to staff and student diversity and non-discrimination.  Each year, staff engage in online training related to staff and student diversity and non-discrimination.  These trainings provide a common baseline for all staff and offer a regular.  These trainings are online and are required for all staff

Equity Literacy Training for all UPSD Employees Completed in 2020-21

The UPSD Department of Teaching and Learning worked with the District’s diverse Equity Advisory Committee (EAC) to review providers and select a racial equity training provider with the expertise and capacity to provide staff development on a district-wide scale for multiple years.  Three groups were identified and vetted by the EAC.  The Equity Literacy Institute founded by Paul Gorski was selected to provide district-wide training to all employees.  More information about the Equity Literacy Institute can be found at

Training began in October 2020 with a 90 minute session for all administrators, teachers and classified staff.  Subsequent training sessions for instructional and administrative staff for calendar year 2021 were held in January, February, and March.  These sessions are organized by school or employee group.  They are led by a "live" equity training expert in a virtual environment.  Groups are small enough to allow some level of interactio and active participation by staff.  Classified employee groups (i.e., bus drivers, food service workers, etc.) will also continue to engage in equity training opportunities moving forward.

Training topics include:

Site-Based Professional Growth & Learning

UPSD teachers, leaders and support staff are embracing a commitment to understanding and eliminating systemic racism from our school system and practices. In addition to formal, required professional development, a number of informal, school-based study groups have been established to read about racial equity and anti-racism and talk about how to put these new learnings into action as educators.  To support these “grass roots” efforts at learning and growth, the district is providing resources to support these groups.  One resource is easy access to key knowledge sources on racial equity.  

Training for Curriculum Review & Revision

In addition to the professional development noted above, teachers and administrators in social studies and language arts are working with educators from the Race and Pedagogy Institute at the University of Puget Sound to develop procedures and practices to support the review and revision of our curriculum- specifically in history and social studies classes.  This training will help prepare existing UPSD staff to ensure that the curriculum delivered by the district is accurate and inclusive of different viewpoints.