ASCD Professional Learning Services in Action: A Professional Cadre Approach to Training


APLS BannerThis post is part of a series highlighting ASCD Professional Learning Services, how they can be customized and implemented, and the success stories of schools that have leveraged the services to support teachers, school leaders, and students.

By Susan Race

Race Cadre 300x300Scenario 1: Amazing! Our school’s entire faculty just read Carol Ann Tomlinson’s 2nd edition of The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners for this year’s book study.

We now all agree that we want to incorporate differentiated instruction (DI) as part of our school improvement plan. We need help to go deeper and implement the strategies in all of our classrooms. We have watched her webinar, and we now know that we need a long-term, professional development plan that ensures we implement her work with fidelity throughout our school. How can we make sure that we accomplish this?

Scenario 2: What a challenge! Our district’s strategic plan includes a long-term commitment to ensuring that all teachers receive professional development that supports teaching in a student-centered classroom. The leadership team just finished reading Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey’s 2nd edition of Better Learning Through Structured Teaching: A Framework for the Gradual Release of Responsibility. Who could we bring to our district to design and implement a professional development plan for our whole district?

At ASCD, we use the professional cadre approach to training consultants. With this approach, cadre members are trained in the content of and theory behind an author’s work and then assist schools and districts in converting content and theory into practice. Among ASCD’s cadres are the UbD® cadre, the DI cadre, and the FIT Teaching® cadre, each consisting of 10 to 15 members who are carefully selected and trained by the authors and recalibrated each year at a cadre meeting held at ASCD. The authors welcome the opportunity to train their cadre consultants and work with them throughout the year as they bring the work to schools and districts across the country. Hear what Doug Fisher has to say about his FIT Teaching cadre.

The cadre members find that participating in the cadre is a very valuable professional experience, and they look forward to the cadre meetings each year where they have an opportunity to learn about the work that is being done in the field from both the author and their cadre colleagues. Janie Ray Smith, a UbD cadre member, shares her thoughts about the cadre meeting experience:

“The cadre meetings are very valuable in helping ASCD Faculty members connect with the authors, each other, and ASCD staff. We collaborate and share common challenges and work on newly emerging ideas for the cadre’s focus in the field. The meetings give us a chance to share our experiences and highlights of field work and newly created materials. Without the meetings, it would be impossible to ensure that our common services in the field meet the high standards set for ASCD Faculty.”

At ASCD, these author-directed cadres ensure that expert consultants help schools and districts design and implement professional learning plans to convert theory into practices that are faithful to the author’s work. Both the school in scenario 1 and the district in scenario 2 would benefit from the concentrated knowledge and expertise of ASCD’s cadres. Cadre consulting is a winning combination for everyone!