Professional Development

By Erica Bowers and Laura Keisler

Does this professional development scenario sound familiar?

A teacher attends a professional development session with three of her district colleagues. She tries out strategies in her classroom and runs into a few stumbling blocks. Unfortunately, there’s no time to meet with her colleagues to work out the kinks. Her principal wants to provide support but can give her only about 30 minutes at a faculty meeting to share what she has learned. Frustrated, the teacher briefly explains the content from the session to her colleagues. Over time, strategies from the session are forgotten and no real change occurs.

What if the scenario unfolded this way? The teacher and her colleagues, along with site-based instructional coaches and administrators, spend five days before the school year starts in a district-run professional development program. They learn strategies to improve student achievement.

Shortly after school begins, program trainers visit the teacher’s school and observe the strategies in action. They work with the principal and a district administrator to create an implementation plan that supports teacher learning. The teacher works to implement the strategies and, when she hits stumbling blocks, can ask her coach for support. She also will attend follow-up training in the winter and spring to refine these strategies and practices.

The second scenario happens all the time for teachers working at schools in California’s Paramount Unified School District (PUSD) that repeatedly have failed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) goals.

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