2.12 Staff Development

Overall Goal of the Special Education Staff Development Plan

Staff are provided with a variety of professional learning opportunities that align with the Multi-Year Strategic Plan (MYSP), Director’s Action Plan (DAP) and priorities as determined by the Ministry of Education.

Staff development initiatives are determined by the goals in the MYSP and DAP along with data that is gathered from a variety of resources, such as the Every Student Counts Survey, School Climate Survey, and EQAO. In addition, Ministry directives inform professional learning opportunities.

The overall goal of special education staff development is to inform staff of the legislation and Ministry policy on Special Education as well as to provide them with the materials, strategies and skills to implement programming for students with exceptionalities and to increase individual awareness of the unique needs of these students.

DAP 2.0 Overview Graphic

Staff Input and SEAC Consultation of Staff Development

Input from a variety of stakeholders (YRDSB school-based and department staff, SEAC, senior team, union partners) is incorporated into the creation and implementation of professional learning for staff. School based staff meet regularly with system level staff and identify areas requiring further professional development. Student Services staff actively provide input to the DAP, and collaborate in the development of the professional learning plan for the department and for the system. The budget process allows for input from staff and SEAC into the priorities each year. Administrative staff from Student Services act as the liaison and resource for SEAC. At SEAC meetings each month, presentations are provided and updates are given, inviting input and feedback into the development of professional learning.


Professional Development Activities, Courses and In-Service Training Offered by YRDSB

A wide variety of professional learning opportunities and training are offered, to support student learning and build staff capacity in relation to the DAP, such as:

  • a wide variety of opportunities to support the programming, planning and implementation of educational programs for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), opportunities for self-directed online learning; 
  • a large variety of assistive technology professional learning opportunities to elementary and secondary educators with a focus on Clicker, Google Suite tools and add-ons are provided by the Assistive Technology Consultants;
  • collaborative partnerships with Curriculum & Instructional Services, Leadership Development, Research and Assessment Services, Learning Design & Development, Health and Safety, Caring & Safe Schools, Inclusive School & Community Services to support student learning and build staff capacity in relation to the DAP goals;
  • annual conferences (e.g., S-LP Conference);
  • professional learning opportunities for staff to support Ontario’s Well-Being Strategy for Education;
  • professional learning opportunities for staff to support the YRDSB Staff Well-Being and Mental Health Strategy;
  • professional learning opportunities to support de-escalation through Non-Violent Crisis Intervention training; and,
  • staff training in accordance with legislation and ministry policy on special education (e.g. on-boarding training for various staff).


Staff Training with Regard to Legislation and Ministry Policies in Special Education

Staff receive training in a variety of ways as follows:

  • Board designated PA Days are used to support the learning of all staff across the system with respect to legislation and Ministry policy.
  • New Special Education Teachers are provided with release time to participate in a series of professional learning opportunities with a focus on legislation and Ministry policies as related to their role as a SERT.
  • Specific to the training of new teachers, Student Services staff partner with members from Curriculum and Instructional Services to develop and deliver professional learning opportunities through the New Teacher Induction Program (NTIP).
  • Specific training for new Principals and Vice-Principals on Legislative requirements, Ministry and Board Policies and best practices in Special Education.


Board’s Budget Allocation for Staff Development in Special Education

Student Services remains committed to providing professional learning for all YRDSB staff within the organizational structure. Specific funds are allocated to support professional learning.


Cost-Sharing Arrangements with Other Ministries or Agencies

When appropriate, the Board enters into agreements to facilitate staff development. Several agencies and institutions have partnered with YRDSB including, but not limited to, the Ontario Ministry of Education, Geneva Centre for Autism, Children’s Treatment Network, and Kinark Child & Family Services.


Communication of Professional Development Opportunities and Information in Special Education Plan

School board staff are made aware of the Special Education Plan and professional learning opportunities, which are posted, on the YRDSB website as well as through various communication tools (ex. SharePoint, News Digest, Newsletters, Student Services Calendar, Connect2Learn).