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Best Practices

Queries and Replies

Curriculum Implementation And Materials Support

Student Outcomes

Leveraging Support

Policy Issues

Professional Development

Impact Of LSCs' Progress

Program Management



Bulletin Board

Queries and Replies

Replies to Query:


How can we increase Professional Development without decreasing pupil contact...

Reply 1:

This is a very critical question given the current climate around high stakes testing and the common belief that if a teacher is gone from the classroom and a substitute teacher is used that instruction suffers and childrens' achievement levels decrease. Maybe the question is, "Does anybody know of research that indicates the use of substitute teachers decreases/increases student achievement"? "Does anybody know of a research base on teacher professional development and its' correlation to student achievement"? Analysis of our own data indicates that there may be a correlation between hours of professional development and increased student achievement. Many of those hours were taken afterschool, evenings, and weekends. This is going to require further study, but even if proven statistically significant it is not likely that the trend will be to use substitute teachers to increase professional development time and opportunities. Our efforts to increase opportunities for professional development are in concert with equal efforts to improve preservice preparation of teachers so that inservice training is minimized. Other trials include on-line professional development, on-site professional develolpment during the school day, partnerships with local universities to offer relavent coursework for teachers, action research projects, and peer coaching. There is no magic bullet. We have learned that a multitude of venues are needed to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse teaching workforce. This is a topic worthy of a national discourse, and I hope others join this discussion.


Jerry David Valadez, 1/17/2000

Reply 2:

I would state the question a bit differently. It presently implies that the substitutes have an agenda and are consciously undermining professional development. I know they would like to be paid more, but I don't see a conspiracy out there. In our area, the problem is simply that there are none. EDC's Industry Volunteer model was the only thing that got us through that issue, and it wouldn't be enough today. I know this is not profound, but the the real problem is the contract. In Massachusetts every teacher with more than five years service had their "lifetime" certification preempted by the Education Reform Act. Recently, many teachers had their health care benfits reduced by action of the state legislature. Why don't we lobby these champions fo accountability for a minimum of two hours/week beyond everyone's contract for professional development? Make it cummulative at the discretion of the superintendent. Eighty hours a year at timed at his/her discretion.


Thomas E Foley, 1/19/2000

Reply 3:

I think we must change the nature of the activities that engage students during the absence of the teacher for professional development. Since there are currently several areas of curriculum that are short changed for students we must look at the teacher's absence as an opportunity to enrich the student in these "deficit" areas. For example, we have a six part, fine arts program that provides elementary students with lessons in music, movement and drama. They are provided by local artists(sub certified) in a program called Imaginarium. The artists are provided with classroom manangement training and work collaboratively with disitrct specialists to create the lessons which support our fine arts CORE. Another similar program we use releases teachers for on site P.D. while providing students with lessons from The Private Eye( an interdisciplnary study that combines observation skills with thinking by analogy drawing and writing. By the end year the teacher's learning forum will have met for 7 2.5 hr sessions while the students will have had nearly 18hrs of work with Private Eye. Since the classroom teacher can continue this work with students, we think this is an excellent way to support scientific habits of thinking for children. If releasing teachers for professional development results in a win for both students and teachers, parents and adminstrators are more willing to support professional development. When teachers are not responsible for planning a lesson during their absence, they are more eager to have release time! Teachers acquire new ways to help students learn and students learn to help themselves.


Gail Diane Paulin, 1/23/2000