Cedar Lane Elementary School (Middletown, DE). Cedar Lane implements lesson studies that include grade-level teachers collaborating to create a single lesson to be used team-wide. After the creation of a lesson, a full grade-level of teachers participate in a fish bowl lesson study. This includes one teacher using the lesson with her students while colleagues observe. After the first round of instruction, the team meets to debrief and discuss enhancements/changes needed to strengthen instructional planning and delivery. After editing the lesson, a different teacher uses the newly revised lesson with their class while colleagues again observe. The framework around this experience is based on the student’s needs and what specifications the team has set forth. Teachers are always eager to participate in fish bowl studies as it gives them the opportunities for immediate feedback and implementation of new strategies in real time.
Massapequa High School (Massapequa, NY). Massapequa High School encourages staff members to learn from one another. For instance, currently the teachers participate in a “Pineapple Chart” process where they open-up their classrooms, announce lesson subjects via a posting board, and welcome colleagues to visit. These activities impact students as they witness staff professional growth efforts, and ultimately benefit from enhanced classroom practices.
Successful technology integration is the result of targeted and sustained professional development. Understanding teachers and students need assistance in their use of instructional technology, the school committed to ensuring access to many levels of technology assistance. A dedicated Technology Learning Coach (TLC) meets with individual teachers, groups of teachers, and curriculum departments on a daily basis. Using open appointment slots on a shared Google calendar, teachers are free to book time with the TLC when interested in learning how to integrate specific tools. The coach also leads instructional sessions during professional development periods. In addition, teachers are invited to attend Model Schools technology sessions that are offered after school.
Fishing Cove Elementary School (North Kingstown, RI). At Fishing Cove, professional development addresses student behavior, both inside and outside of school. Two years ago, the school dedicated a large amount of professional development funds to train every teacher, teacher assistant, and all specialist educators in Open Circle. This training increased the school’s capacity to support students’ regulation of their behavior and solve problems. Teachers attended multiple days of training, incorporated the strategies into their classrooms, and received one-on-one mentoring from Open Circle in their classrooms to solidify their instructional practices.
When this training yielded positive results throughout the school, teachers requested more. The Center for Resilience visited the school to coach teachers on how to use mindfulness techniques in the classrooms. Grades 1 and 2 teachers found the training so helpful that their professional growth goals now center on this topic. Each month, they share new mindfulness strategies at the monthly staff meetings. The Rhode Island Healthy Schools Initiative funded a comprehensive Playworks training focused on positive student activities and interactions during recess. The Fishing Cove Playworks Team continues to attend training sessions to increase student engagement on the playground.
Grove Valley Elementary (Edmond, OK). As the lowest in General Fund funding of any school district in Oklahoma, Grove Valley must be very creative and purposeful when it comes to professional development. Each week, the faculty meets for Late Start Wednesday – a district-designated one-hour time slot. During this time, teachers participate in Professional Learning Communities and review student data, develop common assessments, share feedback about What I Need (W.I.N.) time, and discuss Instructional Round presentations. The principal conducts “Virtual Instructional Rounds” through classroom walkthroughs and videotapes examples of best instructional practices. Other Instructional Rounds include one team of teachers observing other teachers in the building for approximately twenty minutes. The Grove Valley Instructional Framework guides the identification of best pedagogical practices in the classrooms. Teachers are videoing effective practices they observe while on Instructional Rounds and sharing during Late Start PLC’s. Also, during this time, teachers provide short presentations delivering information on Marzano’s 41 elements of most effective teaching strategies.
In addition, the school has two Swivls, which is a robotic platform used for recording presentations or class lectures. Teachers connect these to their iPads and use a Swivl app to video themselves teaching. These videos can be used for self-reflection and growth. Teachers share their videos during Late Starts to create dialogue about strategies that are working well with their students.
The result of the building embedded professional development has been powerful and positive. Teacher evaluations continue to improve across the building. Since implementation, teachers have become more collaborative, and the school credits the rise of our student test scores to this. Teacher retention has also improved.
Riverwatch Middle School (Suwanee, GA). Each school year, the Riverwatch Professional Development Plan supports goals outlined by the School Improvement Plan. The goals are based on a variety of data points, including standardized test scores, College and Career Readiness Performance Index (CCRPI) ratings, Student Health Surveys, and Teacher Keys Effectiveness System (TKES) ratings. From this data, teachers and administrators develop a CCRPI Goal, Academic/Instructional Goal, and Climate Goal. These objectives then serve as the guiding principles behind the annual professional development plan.
Since, Georgia Milestones data indicated a need for greater focus on writing instruction across explanatory and argumentative genres, a portion of the professional development plan was devoted to training Enrichment and Social Studies teachers in Data-Based-Questioning. Similarly, data from the Student Health Survey showed students were struggling with connecting with adults at school, anxiety, and peer relations. Based on the research of character education programs, Riverwatch trained staff on Habitudes, a youth leadership curriculum. Based on the TKES ratings data, staff needed further professional development on the standards of Assessment Strategies and Assessment Uses, so Riverswatch provided both workshops and targeted observation feedback. These targeted efforts, based on data from a variety of sources, have impacted teacher practices, student writing performance, and student character development.
Center City PCS Congress Heights Campus (Washington, DC). Center City is committed to professional development of its staff and leaders. We provide extensive professional development opportunities, including workshops, professional learning communities, and coaching to improve the quality of instruction.
Center City PCS Pre-Service August 10 – 28: Four days of these three weeks were district-wide dates dedicated to team/campus building initiatives as well as our two focus areas, school culture and instruction aligned to the Common Core. Six days were spent with staff at individual campuses with extensive sessions on school culture, instruction, and classroom environment. Center City had an additional week of professional development dedicated to Teach Like a Champion strategies, implementation, and norming around expectations and usage of the strategies.
District-Wide Full-Day Professional Development: Center City has full-day all-organization professional development days where we gather all six campus teams to disseminate strategies, priorities, and provide professional learning community time (PLCs). Some themes that Center City focused on were: SPED Growth and Compliance, Teach Like a Champion (TLAC) and GLAAD training, K-3 ELA, Close the Achievement Gap by 3rd grade, School Culture: No Nonsense Nurturer, Character Education, and Restorative Justice. These full-day sessions were divided into half-day sessions; each provided teachers and leaders with new content and time to apply the content to their practices. Additionally, teachers of the same grade-level and/or content had professional learning community planning time.
Weekly Campus-Based Professional Development: Campus-based professional development extends the organizational priorities to the campus level to meet the needs of all students at specific campuses. Additionally, some PLCs spend time addressing the data cycle of benchmark assessments. Teachers review data reports, detailing class and individual student performance, and wrong-answer analysis. At data meetings, teachers work in teams to determine instructional takeaways and to create a plan for targeted re-teach and interventions.
Weekly Grade-Band Professional Learning Communities: Grade band PLCs (PK-1st, 2nd-5th grade, and 6th-8th grade), are the primary way of ensuring consistency and communication, and problem-solving among all members of a grade-band team. PLCs alternate to address specific student issues, review student work, plan, review PBIS systems, and push instructional practice. Standard meeting protocols ensure consistency across the district. Grade-band meetings are facilitated by a school leader and/or a teacher-leader.
Observation and Feedback: Observations provide feedback on specific areas including instruction, management, assessment, and discipline as well as data crucial to instruction to help teachers improve. They also help teachers meet organizational and professional goals and provide tangible data for annual reviews based on the CCPCS Evaluation System. All teachers have at least 16 informal and at least two formal observations across the school year.
Teacher Leader Fellowship Center City’s Teacher Leader Fellowship (TLF), launched in SY 14-15, provides professional development to improve pedagogy and leadership skills and is one pathway to campus leadership. These teachers take on additional responsibilities, such as mentoring new teachers and leading professional development; they receive a stipend for this work.
Principal and Assistant Principal Professional Development: Center City’s principals and assistant principals also receive coaching and professional development on capacity building, instructional pedagogy, curriculum and Common Core-oriented observational skills, and a consultancy practice. They also engage bi-weekly in data analysis, teacher feedback reflection, and collaborative strategic planning.