As a first-year preschool teacher, I would wake up early one Saturday every month to attend a teaching workshop at a local college. Some of these workshops provided me with new activities and materials to use in my classroom. Others, however, left me wondering why I woke up so early and how I might incorporate the information into my classroom in meaningful ways. And I still found myself wanting help in the place I needed it most: my daily interactions with the children.
What I really needed was someone to help me observe, analyze, and improve my interactions and connect these interactions to children’s learning and development. Thankfully, researchers at the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) at UVA's Curry School of Education and staff at Teachstone® have created coaching and coursework opportunities that provide more effective professional development for teachers.
What makes these opportunities so effective? Let’s look at this comparison of traditional professional development and the evidenced-based professional development offered at Teachstone.
What Research Says is Effective
Traditional PD Models
Teachstone Coaching and Coursework
|Ongoing support for teachers||Offered just once—one day or one week with no follow-up||MyTeachingPartner™ Coaching (MTP) and Making the Most of Classroom Interactions (MMCI) provide regular, intensive coaching or coursework offered from 6 to 10 months; other one-day trainings, such as Instructional Support Strategies offer ongoing engagement through other Coach Toolbox resources, such as the CLASS™ Discussion Toolkit|
|Based in teachers’ actual practice||Teachers can gain information, but this is not related directly to practice||Teachers videotape, observe, and discuss actual classroom interactions|
|Focused on teacher-child interactions which are the strongest predictor of child outcomes||Often focused on the use of specific materials or activities rather than strategies that apply in multiple situations||Focus is always on learning about and improving effective teacher-child interactions, regardless of curriculum or setting|
|Engages teachers in collaborative relationships||Teachers attend occasional lectures and workshops given by a variety of people||Teachers develop relationships with coaches and course instructors, making the process more individualized for the teachers’ needs|
Teachstone’s MyTeachingPartner Coaching (MTP) and Making the Most of Classroom Interactions (MMCI) programs are grounded in the research on effective professional development. These specific models have helped thousands of teachers make meaningful improvements in their classrooms.
How I wish I would have known about this when I started!
What about your work? What professional development models have you found to be effective and why?
Interested in learning more?
In the wake of the widespread civil unrest after the killing of George Floyd, the national conversation about the inequities in the educational opportunities provided white students and students of color has been amplified. Due to racial and socioeconomic segregation, Black students, and other students of color, are more likely to attend poorly funded schools. EdBuild, a non-profit focused on fair and equitable school funding, reports that high poverty school districts that predominantly enroll children of color receive on average, $1,600 less per student than the national average. By their calculations, there is a $23,000,000,000 gap between funding for schools that primarily serve high poverty Black students and those that predominantly serve white students. Schools that predominantly serve high poverty white students, only receive $1440 less per student (EdBuild, 2019).
When I first learned about CLASS Group Coaching—a training for early childhood professionals about building relationships with children—I was more than a little interested. This, I thought. This is what teaching is all about. It seems to be an obvious concept, but once we dig deeper, we are able to identify the whys and hows of our interactions. CLASS Group Coaching allows us to identify the benefits of our classroom relationships with our students and helps us be intentional in our daily practices. It allows us to utilize each moment we have with our students to deepen our understanding of their perspectives and genuinely connect with them as people. It helps us see the world from their view and guide their learning in a way that is relevant to them.
Since the coronavirus has disrupted many of our in-person plans, you might be trying to figure out how you can transition in-person coaching to online coaching. Online coaching can open a number of doors for coaches and teachers that might not be an option in face-to-face work.
Even top athletes rely on the support of a coach to improve their game. Players need coaches to help identify their unique strengths and grow their talents while increasing their skills in areas of challenge. To do all this, coaches spend lots of time observing athletes while they practice—giving real-time feedback based on current efforts, breaking skills down as needed to cultivate mastery, and encouraging players to keep trying in pursuit of their goals.