THE INFLUENCE OF A ‘LEARNING BY DOING’ PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM ON TEACHER READINESS FOR THE CLASSROOM: A CASE STUDY WITH IMPLICATIONS FOR SCHOOL LEADERS
Burke, Michelle Martin
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In a recent study conducted by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) entitled “Teacher Prep Review”, devastating data were presented that many universities are lacking in preparing our teachers for today’s students (Greenberg, McKee, & Walsh, 2013a). In this study, additional evidence was produced that teachers are entering classrooms not knowing how to deliver instruction successfully to the different learning styles and diverse backgrounds of students; while, at the same time, successfully maintaining classroom management. Therefore, if universities are failing our teachers, school leaders must be ready to equip teachers with the experience needed for real-world classroom practices. The Learning By Doing Professional Development Program (LBDPDP) provides teachers with a 2-day summer program coupled with a year-long experience in which the teachers meet with trainers once a week. Teachers participate in observing lessons presented by a highly effective instructional coach who uses research based strategies and hands-on student centered lessons that implement diverse learning styles. In addition, teachers are able to plan, present lessons for one another guided by the instructional coach, and then reflect while receiving feedback from their peers and coach. Furthermore, teachers experience the purpose of aligning the PK Guidelines with objectives and concrete activities, as well as helping teachers understand logical consequences that teach children rather than punishing them; where mistakes become learning opportunities and are lessons to be learned in life (Montessori, 1995, p. 249). It is in the experience of presenting that teachers are able to learn and reflect. The core of this training extends from the findings of Maria Montessori whom believed that through self-reflection, concrete experiences, and understanding each other’s differences: students are able to learn (Standing, 1984, p. 111). The program was implemented in one Prekindergarten school with a total of 686 students within one large, urban school district. The purpose of this qualitative case study is to determine the influence of the Learning By Doing Professional Development Program (LBDPDP) at a Prekindergarten School. A focus group of teachers who participated in the LBDPDP, as well as the administrators that lead the LBDPDP, the instructional coach, the school mentor, and the school counselor, will be interviewed and responses will be analyzed to determine common themes.
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