Guide Quality Teaching: A Sample of Cases

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The schools have made changes not just to the way they embrace technology, but have utilised evidence-based theory on modern learning environments in general and are seeing enhanced student engagement. Auckland Normal Intermediate is a decile 9 school for years 7 and 8. The school did a lot of research both locally and internationally and decided on a student- focused, inquiry-led and conceptual approach where the students take responsibility and ownership for their learning.

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Change came from developing a clear and strong vision grounded in international best practice. This was important to help the school justify the changes to teachers and parents. Class-based subjects are integrated in this unit of inquiry and this is complemented by specialist subject work. Class-based teachers go with their students to the specialist subject areas to work and learn with their students. There is a clear transfer of knowledge from classroom inquiry to practice in specialist spaces. The first space to be modified was the specialist area. On a shoestring budget, the school opened up the space into a large, open, flexible learning area and was creative with furniture.

Now a student can seamlessly work, for example, on designing and building a chair using a range of technologies and materials. Teacher desks were removed and teachers now use a teaching station when working in these spaces. Desks and chairs for students were removed and replaced with a variety of flexible furniture options.

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Breens Intermediate in Christchurch is a decile 7 school for year 7 and 8 students. The school operates out of prefabricated, relocatable buildings that were all built around The school focused on reflective practice. They started changing the management structure to a more coaching and mentoring lead-teacher model, each with their own strengths.

The school participated in a lot of professional development, but were also proactive about things like teachers providing feedback to each other. In this way learning became more visible and collaborative. Woolston School is a decile 2 school in Christchurch that caters for years 1—8 age 5 to The school operates out of a mix of older and newer buildings. Years 1—2 and the bilingual classes are now located in newly established relocatable buildings which are open teaching spaces and an example of modern learning environments. Years 3—5 are located in a learning studio-style block which has four teaching spaces that open into a common space and years 6—8 are located in s blocks which are single cell teaching spaces.

Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 10 2 , — Active learning provides teachers with opportunities to get hands-on experience designing and practicing new teaching strategies.

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In PD models featuring active learning, teachers often participate in the same style of learning they are designing for their students, using real examples of curriculum, student work, and instruction. For example, Reading Apprenticeship is an inquiry-based PD model designed to help high school biology teachers integrate literacy and biology instruction in their classrooms. Working together, teachers study student work, videotape classroom lessons for analysis, and scrutinize texts to identify potential literacy challenges to learners.

Reflection and other metacognitive routines such as think-alouds and reading logs for science investigations are also used in PD sessions. Greenleaf, C. Integrating literacy and science in biology: Teaching and learning impacts of reading apprenticeship professional development. American Educational Research Journal, 48 3 , — They also received instruction in strategies for teaching English language learners. Students who received enhanced instructional activities and whose teachers received PD demonstrated significantly higher science and reading achievement than students who were engaged in business-as-usual instruction.

Lara-Alecio, R. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 49 8 , — By focusing on improving the practice of teachers of English language learners, this kind of collaborative, districtwide PD can have important implications for improving the equity of whole systems. Curricular models and modeling of instruction provide teachers with a clear vision of what best practices look like. Teachers may view models that include lesson plans, unit plans, sample student work, observations of peer teachers, and video or written cases of accomplished teaching.

For example, in a program used across a number of states, PD focused on the types of pedagogical content knowledge teachers need to effectively teach elementary science. Curricular and instructional models were used in multiple ways to support teacher learning. For example, one group of teachers analyzed teaching cases drawn from actual classrooms and written by teachers.

Another set of teachers worked in carefully structured, collaborative groups to analyze examples of student work from a shared unit taught in their own classrooms. A third group used metacognitive strategies to reflect on their instruction and its outcomes. In a randomized experimental study, students of teachers who participated in any of these PD opportunities had significantly greater learning gains on science tests than students whose teachers did not participate, and these effects were maintained a year later. Heller, J. Differential effects of three professional development models on teacher knowledge and student achievement in elementary science.

Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 49 3 , — Experts may share their specialized knowledge as one-on-one coaches in the classroom, as facilitators of group workshops, or as remote mentors using technology to communicate with educators.

Learning specialists

They may include master teachers or coaches based in universities or professional development organizations. In one coaching initiative designed to enhance early literacy instruction among Head Start teachers, educators participated in biweekly sessions with a university-based literacy coach following a two-day orientation that introduced them to the literacy concepts.

Prior to each session which could be conducted in person or remotely , coaches and teachers collaboratively chose a specific instructional practice on which to focus their time together. Coaches then observed teachers in their classrooms and provided both supportive and constructive oral and written feedback on their teaching, facilitating the implementation of desired instructional practices. For remote coaching, educators shared minute video clips and coaches provided detailed written feedback, supported by links to video exemplars and other materials available through the program.

The semester-long program included 16 hours of workshops and seven coaching sessions. A two-year randomized controlled trial found that classrooms led by these teachers demonstrated larger gains and higher performance on a widely used early childhood classroom quality assessment, and their students experienced larger gains on a number of early language and literacy skills than did those in the control group.

Powell, D. Effects of an early literacy professional development intervention on Head Start teachers and children.

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Journal of Educational Psychology, 2 , — High-quality professional learning frequently provides built-in time for teachers to think about, receive input on, and make changes to their practice by facilitating reflection and soliciting feedback. Feedback may be offered as teachers analyze lesson plans, demonstration lessons, or videos of teacher instruction, which also provide opportunities for reflection about what might be refined or retained and reinforced.


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These activities are frequently undertaken in the context of a coaching session or workshop, but may also occur among peers. The course also offered interactive message boards that were moderated by expert facilitators. Teachers participated in four hours of this coursework per month throughout the school year. In a randomized controlled study of the program, researchers found that students of teachers who received expert mentoring and feedback experienced the greatest gains on a variety of language and literacy outcomes.

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Effectiveness of comprehensive professional development for teachers of at-risk preschoolers. Effective professional development provides teachers with adequate time to learn, practice, implement, and reflect upon new strategies that facilitate changes in their practice. As a result, strong PD initiatives typically engage teachers in learning over weeks, months, or even academic years, rather than in short, one-off workshops.

Darling-Hammond, L. Professional learning in the learning profession.

Educational researcher, 38 3 , — For example, the Transformative Professional Development program is a two-year PD model to enhance science instruction for Spanish-speaking elementary school students. The program begins with a two-week summer workshop that includes graduate-level coursework on teaching elementary science. These additional sessions support teachers in deepening their learning and provided space for ongoing support in implementing the new curriculum.

This model not only offers teachers the opportunity to return repeatedly to the PD material over the course of a semester, but also to apply their learning within the context of their classroom between workshops. This cycle is repeated in the second year, with an additional summer workshop and continued release days. In a comparison group study, students whose teachers participated in the program demonstrated significantly larger improvements in science achievement over time than students whose teachers experienced business-as-usual PD.

Johnson, C. A study of the impact of transformative professional development on Hispanic student performance on state mandated assessments of science in elementary school. Journal of Elementary Science Teacher Education, 25 7 , — By promoting learning over time, both within and between sessions, PD that is sustained may lead to many more hours of learning than is indicated by seat time alone.

Our research shows that effective professional learning incorporates most or all of these elements.

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Well-designed professional learning communities, such as those instituted by the National Writing Project, can integrate these elements to support teacher learning resulting in student learning gains. This collaborative and job-embedded professional development, described in additional detail in the box that follows, can enable widespread improvement within and beyond the school level.

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