Well, Spot, after seven years, a teacher has that opportunity, or they did at one time, anyway. They could actually take off for half a year or even a full year and still maintain their salary. Good for the kids, great for the teacher. Sabbatical-noun: an opportunity to gain new learning; to open the mind to a new way of thought.
In today's world of education, sabbatical is a phenomena that's been phased out, mostly because of cost. Paying for a substitute teacher while maintaining the regular teacher's salary is cost prohibitive, so therefore it doesn't exist. In its place, professional development became a way of bringing the best minds in education into a district or a single school building to bring to life research-based instruction ideas right to the staff on the frontline. In my current district, I've experienced the best of the best from Columbia's Teacher College Writing Project to H. Lynne Erickson's Concept-Based Instruction.
In the past two years, my colleagues and I have begun to follow the Dufour's approach to teaming with the Professional Learning Communities. PLCs are not a new concept to me. Teachers focus on data, and purposeful goals, sharing their best teaching practices is something that works well for me. PLCs, done well, require time and conversation to really go deep into the work. The Dufour approach requires teachers to come together regularly in order to design a purposeful, united community that has the child's best interest at heart. It requires hours of trusted sharing and listening with a vested commitment to the learning outcomes of each child.