Professional growth planning FAQs

1. I have a permanent certificate and a continuing contract. Do I need to have a professional growth plan?

Yes. Every teacher employed by a school authority or ECS operator:

  • under a probationary contract or continuing contract, or
  • under other provisions of the School Act if required by the policy of the school authority or ECS operator

is responsible for completing during each school year an annual teacher professional growth plan.

2. Can I change my professional growth plan during the school year?

Yes. Unexpected changes in your assignment may necessitate changes in your professional growth plan. For example, you may be transferred to another school or assigned to teach a different grade. In such cases, you may need to change goals or goal strategies. You have a responsibility to keep your school principal informed about changes.

3. Can my principal send my professional growth plan to central office?

No. The teacher making the plan owns the plan. It would be reasonable for the school principal to copy the plan and hold it in the school office as a ready reference when discussing the plan with the teacher. However, a copy should not be sent to, nor filed at, central office. The principal is responsible for staff supervision. Therefore, sending the professional growth plan beyond the school serves no purpose. All copies of the professional growth plan must be returned to the teacher after the year-end review.

4. What happens if I don’t do an annual professional growth plan?

If teachers do not develop and submit an annual professional growth plan to the principal according to school authority policy, they may be subject to the discipline procedures of the school authority. Teachers should be aware of timelines and other responsibilities outlined in the school board’s policy.

5. Can I keep my professional growth plan?

Yes. The teacher making the annual professional growth plan owns the plan. The principal may keep a copy of the plan as a ready reference for discussion purposes, but the teacher needs the plan as a working document throughout the school year. All copies of the plan must be returned to the teacher following the year-end review.

6. I am a first-year teacher. Are the competencies and indicators of the Teaching Quality Standard different for my teaching?

No. The competencies and indicators in the document are the same for all teachers. However, they are “such as” statements and are not meant to be used as a checklist. Also, “reasoned professional judgment” recognizing and acknowledging the context must be used to determine if the standard is being met.

7. What should my plan look like?

A plan can be formatted in many ways. Some teachers prefer a linear plan, while others prefer a mind map or web format. Some school staffs have adopted a format that fits their unique needs. Whatever format is chosen, the plan should include goals, strategies, timelines, meaningful measures and required resources.

8. How many goals do I need?

It’s not the number of goals that is critical but the quality of the goals. Goals need to reflect the teacher’s self-assessed learning needs, demonstrate a relationship to the Teaching Quality Standard and take into consideration the education plans of the school, school authority and the government (or the program statement of the ECS operator). As a general rule, a growth plan should have fewer than five goals.

9. Can I add personal or wellness goals?

Personal or wellness goals can be added only after you have developed goals that fulfill the policy requirements that call for an annual teacher professional growth plan. The provincial policy specifies that the teacher’s goals reflect the Teaching Quality Standard. Personal or wellness goals may make you a healthier and better person, but the plan must focus on professional as opposed to personal growth.

10. Do I need to align my professional growth plan with school and district goals?

No. However, teachers need to consider the education plans of the school, the school authority and the government (or the program statement of an ECS operator). The key word is consider, which does not imply that these goals must be included. Teachers should not only have a well-developed rationale for all goals that they have included in their professional growth plan but also be prepared to explain why they have excluded other goals.

11. What happens if I don’t finish my professional growth plan?

If a teacher fails to complete a professional growth plan through a lack of effort, the teacher may be subject to whatever disciplinary action is outlined in the school board’s policy. However, if the plan has not been completed because the nature of the plan makes completion impossible (for example, a goal may require further study) or because of extenuating circumstances, the plan may be restructured as a multiyear plan. Multiyear professional growth plans must, nevertheless, contain timelines specifying the components that must be completed during each school year.

12. Can the school principal recommend changes to my professional growth plan?

Yes. The principal can recommend changes to the plan if it does not reflect the Teaching Quality Standard. Furthermore, if, through supervision, the principal believes that the teacher’s practice does not meet the Teaching Quality Standard, the principal may initiate an evaluation. Through the evaluation process, the principal can develop a remediation plan that replaces the teacher’s annual professional growth plan. The teacher is then obliged to use the remediation plan. Teachers might also be asked to provide a rationale for the goals and/or strategies that they identified in their professional growth plan.

13. Can my professional growth plan be used for my evaluation?

No. The provincial policy states that the content of an annual teacher professional growth plan must not be part of the evaluation process.

14. Can the principal reject my professional growth plan?

Yes. The regulations governing professional growth plans state that the professional growth plan is submitted “for review or approval.” School authority policy may give the principal the authority to approve the professional growth plan, in which case the principal can reject it if it does not meet the three criteria stated in the regulation. In other words, the professional growth plan must be based on the self-assessed learning needs of the teacher, must demonstrate a relationship to the Teaching Quality Standard and must consider the education goals of the school, district and the government. 

15. Can I have the same professional growth plan for more than one year?

The professional growth plan can be a multiyear plan. However, the plan needs to be divided into school year blocks. Otherwise, it cannot be considered an annual teacher professional growth plan.

16. Can my peers serve on a committee to review my professional growth plan?

Yes. However, regulations specify that the professional growth plan is submitted for review or approval to

  1. the principal, or
  2. a group of teachers delegated by the principal, if such delegation is provided for in the school authority policy.

In some schools, the professional development committee or the teacher’s collaborative team may be authorized to review the plan.

17. Should I use provincial student achievement data as a measure for my professional growth plan?

No. Provincial student achievement data is one type of data that teachers should use for professional reflection. This data is subject to more than just teaching practice and can vary considerably from day to day as the context of the classroom changes. Provincial student achievement data can be valuable if it is analyzed so as to take into account such other factors that may affect student achievement. You should consider, however, what can be learned by analyzing a wide range of student achievement data over time in relation to the goals outlined in your professional growth plan. The provincial achievement data is not available before the end of the year. Therefore, teachers will need to use a variety of other classroom assessments to meaningfully measure changes in student learning.