Embedded professional development is an integral element to the flow of the school year for Madison City secondary teachers. It is one of the factors that set MCS teachers apart. Teachers meet monthly during the first half of their planning block to collaborate with colleagues on research-based topics and best practices. Three strands of professional learning were offered during the 2022-23 academic year to high school teachers while middle school teachers focused on data-informed instruction.
High school teachers chose from the strands of Engagement, Building Relationships, and Deepening Lessons. Each strand is informed by the text The New Art and Science of Teaching by Robert J. Marzano.
The Engagement strand focused on various strategies to engage students at different parts of their lesson, following the strategic teaching model: Before, During, and After. During the year, teachers explored gamification in the classroom, “hook” activities, the metacognitive side of engagement, the impact of transitions to increase engagement, and how getting to know the students creates a culture to be able to engage them.
Building Relationships -
The Building Relationships strand focused on how to build and maintain relationships with students in order to establish high expectations among all learners in the classroom. Teachers learned methods for displaying objectivity and control in the classroom, how to engage the reluctant learner, strategies to support students individually, and methods for teachers to self-reflect on their practice.
The Deepening Lessons strand provided teachers with the opportunity to explore strategies that enhance learning after new information has been introduced to students. For example, a teacher might present new material to students through a lecture and then follow up with one or more of the strategies they learned to ensure that the new learning became part of the students’ long-term memories since they had opportunities to make meaningful connections.
Teachers at Discovery and Liberty Middle Schools focused their time each month on data-informed instruction. They explored different elements of data to support their students’ learning. Furthermore, teachers revisited and explored the concept of Depth of Knowledge. After Covid, we recognized it was a great time to refamiliarize veteran teachers with the differing DOK levels as well as to ensure newer teachers understood DOK for the middle school levels. We began the process by first collaborating among the content areas for alignment. We worked collaboratively to identify DOK levels in different cognitive tasks. Then, ELA, math, science, social studies, and electives all explored DOK in their respective subjects. Teachers analyzed their own classroom assignments and assessments to ensure they were properly aligned with state standards and appropriately complex based on grade level. Each department continued with revisions and sharings throughout the year in our embedded PD sessions. Each department added revised assessments and materials to a shared drive. We also collectively analyzed ACAP data and standards to figure out where we could add additional instructional supports and targeted lessons to ensure ACAP success. Social studies analyzed ACAP literacy standards and created a resource bank for lessons that strengthened those standards. The focus was on content collaboration and ensuring high-quality instruction.