University of Hartford Magnet School (West Hartford, CT). University of Hartford Magnet School (UHMS) implements coaching rounds at each grade level. A week prior to the coaching round, the grade level team examines class data to determine a focus area. Then the Coach researches best practices to address the identified need and shares the plan and rationale with the team prior to instruction. On the first day of the rounds, the Coach is the lead teacher in a class while the other teachers conduct a focused observation. The team reconvenes during a debrief, and the lead teacher reflects on the effectiveness of the lesson and the team poses questions and shares their feedback. Based on the shared observations, the team then works collaboratively to map out the following day’s lesson for the next lead teacher. Each teacher becomes a lead teacher for a day. UHMS has seen benefits in changes in Tier I instruction, elevated confidence in teachers’ instructional practices, an increase in collegiality, and gains in student performance. Teachers report feeling more at ease exposing their vulnerabilities and seeking advice and support from one another. Teachers leave coaching rounds with new strategies, a clear plan for their own professional development, and a newfound trust in their teammates.
Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy (Forest Park, IL). The school’s administration believes in “Teacher Leadership in Exchange for Accountability.” A team of teachers worked with administration to develop a project to build teacher leadership capacity through three activities. The activities include: distributive leadership through the development of a School Leadership Team, introduction of grade level lead teachers, and teacher-led professional development. Teacher-led professional development substantially built the capacity for teacher leadership. Teachers interested in leading professional development, aligned with school goals, had to submit a written proposal to the principal at least five weeks prior to the proposed activity. PMSA administration and department chairs provided general oversight, scheduling, and monitoring of the effectiveness of the teacher-led professional development. These activities led a successful translation to school goals and instructional growth plans that included research-based best practices and data analysis. The project’s effectiveness was measured by positive evaluations, optimized teacher participation, and strong gains on teacher leadership indicators on the 2017 Illinois 5 Essentials Survey. PMSA has deduced that teacher collaboration is the most powerful form of professional development. The project accomplished its ultimate goals: increase teacher efficacy and create a healthier overall school culture that leads to increased student growth and academic achievement.
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.