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Articles: Professional Development

Schools that can’t afford to compete with the private sector in hiring technology specialists are looking to other options, such as hiring part-time experts, bringing in volunteers or finding funds to retrain teachers.

Kathleen Miller is principal of Mechanics Grove School in Mundelien, Ill.

School administrators are increasingly being made accountable for improving test scores, reducing behavior issues and creating vibrant school cultures where everyone has a sense of belonging. Adding more layers to this already complicated list begins to entangle the educational system with too many change initiatives—unless we can fundamentally alter the roots of our paradigms and relationships.

When hiring teachers districts should identify their needs and fix only what is broken, says consultant Joel Sackett

It’s no secret that having great educators in the classroom is one of the keys to fostering successful students and an effective school—but finding top-tier educators can be difficult, time-consuming and expensive.

The hiring process is especially challenging in today’s landscape, as most states have made dramatic cuts to education funding since the start of the recession.

Daniel A. Domenech is executive director of AASA and a former school superintendent for nearly 30 years.

Research shows that good teachers and principals are highly correlated with higher student achievement.

Several ongoing education programs on national and district levels are working to prepare the next generation of teachers and principals throughout the country. However, research also shows effective district leadership is also vital for high student achievement.

Math teachers from Kings Canyon Middle School in the Fresno USD take content they have learned in PD and develop lessons together. They also study the Math Design Collaborative Formative Assessment Lesson to prepare for delivering it in the classroom.

Over the past two years, elementary teachers in Weston Public Schools in Connecticut have been learning to implement Singapore Math, a highly regarded program that delves deeply into concepts ranging from understanding numbers and length to rounding and adding fractions.

Weston’s three-day summer institute for high school educators is focused on teaching writing in science, history and social science classes.

At the Fresno USD, which uses coaches to help their peers, math teachers at Tenaya Middle School take content they learned and develop lessons together.

As school district leaders prepare teachers for the Common Core state standards, peer coaching has emerged as a powerful tool.

“In order for change to reach the classroom level, teachers really need to be the leaders for the Common Core,” says the Tennessee DOE’s Tiffany McDole.

Lance Menster is Houston ISD’s assistant superintendent of professional support and development.

Differentiating instruction to meet individual students’ needs is one of the biggest challenges for any teacher. In the same way, differentiating professional development to meet the needs of individual teachers is one of the biggest challenges for any school district.

Students in a Responsive Classroom school greet one another during the daily morning meeting (left). In another class, after the greeting, students have the opportunity to share their feelings and experiences with their peers (right).

A widely used K6 teaching technique that integrates social and emotional learning into the school day improves academic performance, according to a study published in the American Educational Research Journal in March. Though the approach, known as Responsive Classroom, has been used for some 25 years, this is the first comprehensive study of its impact on student achievement.

Some 93 percent of teachers believe that technology has a positive effect on student engagement.

Decades into the computer revolution, many teachers still lack the training needed to use technology effectively in the classroom, according to a new survey. It’s a major problem as schools are investing more in devices and blended learning to improve student achievement, experts say.

Author Rick Stiggins believes that classroom assessment is more effective than standardized tests in providing the student growth data.

Defensible Teacher Evaluation: Student Growth Through Classroom Assessment


Author Rick Stiggins believes that classroom assessment is more effective than standardized tests in providing the student growth data needed to evaluate teachers. This book shows district leaders how to create an assessment program that evaluates teachers fairly and will help schools improve.

At Sells Middle School in the Dublin City School District in Ohio, school administrators are using the Complete Student Safety and Behavior System technical tool to track student tardiness and how it might relate to school fights.

It was a lunch hour more than 10 years ago when Terri Lozier, now a principal in another district just outside Chicago, was sucked into the violence of a school fight. Then a teacher, she was supervising the cafeteria when one girl tried to strangle another.

Ken Royal is a former teacher and DA editor. He blogs at

If you’re an educator, at any level or grade, sitting back and expecting education change to happen, without you getting involved, you need to stand up now. If you think that you can’t do something, or start change, you’re mistaken.

Gary Shattuck is the director of technology and media services for the Newton County School System in Covington, Ga.

When planning the implementation of a huge technology initiative, where audio enhancement and camera technologies would be placed in 552 classrooms over the summer of 2013, I knew that the key to success was rethinking how we deliver professional learning.

My experience with the traditional professional learning model of training-the-trainer has not been pleasant or successful. The problems I experienced were three-fold.

Jason E. Glass is superintendent and chief learner at Eagle County Schools in Colorado.

All across the country, discussions around improving educator effectiveness and evaluation have become synonymous. Forces from state houses and federal agencies compel us to engage in the work of redesigning evaluation systems and to devise ways of using student outcomes as a significant part of that effort.

Superintendents and the evaluations they use are coming directly into the crosshairs.

Paul Finch is the superintendent of the Red Hook Central School District in Red Hook, N.Y.

What happened? This is what we at the Red Hook Central School District had to ask when we looked at our student achievement data.

In some cases, there was a mismatch between our beliefs about certain teachers and actual performance, as measured by student achievement data. Ultimately, our personal biases were exposed and this led us to rethink our hiring practices.