Professional Learning

Professional Learning

Co-Teaching in the PDSD

One focus of on-going professional learning in the PDSD is the co-teaching model. The goal is that all teacher candidates (student teachers), mentor teachers, and COE teacher candidate supervisors (faculty and graduate students) will participate in professional learning about co-teaching and then support and utilize the co-teaching strategies throughout the student teaching semester.

Every summer we offer foundational co-teaching workshops to 75-100 CCSD mentor teachers who will have UGA teacher candidates. All teacher candidates who will be student teaching in PDS schools, along with their university supervisors, also participate in foundational co-teaching training at the beginning of each semester. Typically Co-teaching workshops are offered for teachers at the end of July before pre-planning.

To date, over 500 mentor teachers, teacher candidates and supervisors have participated in the workshop. Mentor teachers and teacher candidates also have an additional opportunity to get to know each other better and begin the process of co-planning during a co-teaching “pairs workshop” at school sites.

Co-teaching Research

Research conducted by faculty at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota has shown that the co-teaching model of student teaching not only benefits teacher candidates and mentor teachers but results in higher K-12 student achievement. Co-teaching benefits include increased options for flexible grouping of students, enhanced collaboration skills for the teacher candidate and cooperating teacher, and professional support for both the cooperating teacher and the teacher candidate.


Inquiry in the PDSD

In our PDSD Mission Statement, we state that we will “improve the quality of education for all students by engaging in shared inquiry focused on teaching and learning.” We decided that this process of shared inquiry would allow us to systematically provide insight into classrooms and schools in order to see where improvements could be made.

Below are some of the steps in our collective inquiry process:

  • In October 2015 Dr. Nancy Fichtman Dana, Professor of Education at the University of Florida, was the keynote speaker at our 3rd annual PDS Workshop. She shared the potential for using teacher inquiry to respond to students’ needs and as a way for teachers’ voices to be heard.
  • On July 25, 2016, more than 100 faculty and administrators gathered for an all-day workshop with Dr. Dana to learn more about engaging in professional development through inquiry. We examined the role of inquiry in a PDS by considering what inquiry is, what it looks like, and how it might be structured within a PDS.
  • During summer 2016, Office of School Engagement Director Janna Dresden  began a study of the PDSD’s attitudes about practitioner inquiry, in order to document the growth of our collective thinking over the next several years.
  • At the September 2016 PDSD Coordinating Council meeting we collectively checked in with one another about how schools were progressing with their plans to begin the inquiry process. School groups then discussed what the inquiry process might look like at their school, what supports would be needed, and what barriers would need to be overcome in order to begin to use inquiry as a tool for professional learning.
  • From spring 2016 to the present, the College of Education PDSD Collaborative, which includes faculty and graduate students who work in PDSD schools, has also been discussing ways we can support the inquiry work that is beginning at our partnership schools. We also share ways that we are using shared inquiry with teacher candidates. Many programs are developing ways to include teacher inquiry as part of the practicum experience, so that teacher candidates will have experience with questioning and reflecting on their practice from the outset. A book study of Dana and Yendol-Hoppey’s The Reflective Educator’s Guide to Classroom Research: Learning to teach and teaching to learn through practitioner inquiry is giving us structure and a common language.

Kindergarten Writing

Kindergarten teachers work with College of Education faculty to discuss writing development in young children.  Dr. Mary Guay focuses on distinctions between transcription and composition can inform teachers’ perceptions of writers.  Dr. Pat Waldrip demonstrates the benefits of having children make books.  Dr. Janna Dresden discusses the benefits and pitfalls of assessment rubrics.