Pickering Valley Elementary School (Chester Springs PA). At Pickering Valley, teachers not only motivate students to learn, but are themselves committed to lifelong learning. Each teacher strives to grow personally and to assist colleagues in their academic endeavors. To that end, professional development is offered at both the district and building level to encourage effective, differentiated instruction based on the curriculum and core standards. Our professional development training is multi-faceted. First, we are enriching our ELA instruction in guided reading and text-dependent analysis and have developed strategies to teach a new mathematical methodology. Second, we are exploring the creative integration of technology in all aspects of curriculum delivery in anticipation of our one-to-one iPad initiative. A third approach is a one-day series of workshops, such as our recent Elementary Technology Conference, that allow teachers to share instructional techniques; staff select workshops based on personal interests and needs.
At the district level, an annual plan provides comprehensive, systematic, and research-based professional training on designated days throughout the school year. Experts provide full-day workshops on standards, programs, and resources. Using the “Train the Trainer” model, teachers attend conferences and workshops on specific areas of expertise and share new knowledge with district and building personnel on their return. Based on feedback from district surveys, we realized teachers, like students, need a tiered approach to professional learning, so new positions—Literacy Specialists, Instructional Coaches, and Technology Innovators—were created. These professionals work with individual teachers to plan, model, and co-teach lessons, and provide coverage for teachers to observe colleagues. This has been extremely effective, delivering specific insight and training at the teacher, grade, or building level to improve instruction and foster students’ success. In addition, principal-directed Tuesday morning meetings promote the evaluation of data and its use to maximize student potential. Weekly Wednesday afternoon staff meetings allow for discussions, further training, and suggestions for improvement. Book clubs enable learning and sharing on targeted topics of interest.