State law addresses providing professional development to all health education teachers.
216-RICR-20-10-4.5 Administration of the Health Education Program
I. Planned and ongoing in-service programs are required to update health educators and other relevant personnel in their knowledge of health and teaching skills, and to obtain their input regarding health curriculum, assessment and improvement. These must be consistent with the provisions of R.I. Gen. Laws § 35-4-18 and R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 16-1-5(14), 16-22-12, 16-22-14, and 16-22-24 pertaining to substance abuse, alcohol, suicide, teen dating violence, and such other relevant laws.
Health Literacy for All Students
"A critical support for effective health education is planned comprehensive professional development. Every health educator should have an ongoing programmatic plan for professional development designed to enable her/him to realize continuing education in support of the Standard."
State of Rhode Island General Laws § 16-1-5. Duties of commissioner of elementary and secondary education.
It shall be the duty of the commissioner of elementary and secondary education:
(14) To establish health education, alcohol and substance abuse programs for students in grades kindergarten (K) through twelve (12), in accordance with § 35-4-18. The program will consist of the following: A mandated state health education, alcohol and substance abuse, curriculum for grades kindergarten (K) through twelve (12), a mandated assessment program in the areas of health, fitness, alcohol and substance abuse, and an in-service training program which will be developed specifically for the implementation of the mandated curriculum.
The Rhode Island Health Education Framework
It is crucial that teacher preparation (preservice) is aligned with current health education Standard and practices in the schools; that beginning teachers have mentors to help them deal with the complexities of their first year; and that an accountability structure be put in place to assess the impact of both preservice education and continuing professional development.
Even teachers well versed in the curriculum find that they want:
- a more comprehensive understanding of health concepts and their relationships, and/or
- more practice and coaching in meshing content knowledge with appropriate pedagogy -- such as how to form groups and keep them on task, how to pose thought-provoking questions, how to encourage students to take responsibility for and organize their own learning.
A critical support for effective health education is planned comprehensive professional development. Every health educator should have an ongoing programmatic plan for professional development designed to enable her/him to realize continuing education in support of the Standard. This will require extensive, cyclical staff development including opportunities to observe successful teachers at work and to practice new methods with observation and coaching by experienced colleagues. Teachers need to be provided with ongoing opportunities to consult with colleagues through sharing at conferences, planning sessions, in-service opportunities and by electronic communications. Because health education requires teachers to deal with sensitive issues, continuing professional development is necessary to maintain and build their commitment, understanding, skills and attitudes. A statewide data bank, including videos of exemplary classroom teaching, curriculum resources and model lesson plans could become part of a supportive interchange network.
The following list of models is intended for the consideration of individuals designing professional development. Designers are encouraged to identify their specific needs and then create learning opportunities based on their goals for students. Because learning is a lifelong experience, teachers and others involved in the learning community (i.e. administrators) need to engage in on-going professional development. Taken from the Journal of Staff Development, Winter, 1995, the following list offers some models for professional development:
- Individually Guided Staff Development: Participants identify goals and select tasks that will help them to accomplish their goals.
- Observation and Assessment: Participants reflect upon and analyze their roles and contributions in order to improve students’ learning.
- Involvement in a Development and Improvement Process: Participants are involved in solving a problem that addresses issues relating to school improvement or curriculum development.
- Training: Participants engage in training to acquire knowledge and develop skills in specific areas.
- Inquiry: Participants, individually or in groups, formulate questions and explore possible solutions to those questions. * Case development: Participants, through the use of case studies, analyze situations, communicate recommendations, and broaden their understanding of pedagogy and knowledge.