This 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 Chip Marston
As the new Common Core State Standards are adopted across the country, school district leaders are faced with the huge challenge of preparing their teachers and administrators to implement the new, rigorous standards. Many districts do not have the expertise—or the staff—to deliver the level of professional development necessary to make these improvements. For that reason, lots of school districts have turned to professional development companies like ASCD. Why choose ASCD?
ASCD has been committed to providing a range of effective professional development products and services since 1943. We address all aspects of research-based teaching, learning, and leadership. ASCD Faculty members include renowned, experienced experts in professional learning who understand the needs of educators in any community. School leaders work with ASCD Faculty members to determine a customized, sustainable solution. Professional learning can be delivered in a number of different ways: on-site learning, where an ASCD Faculty member comes to your school or district; online learning, which uses ASCD’s digital products such as PD Online (self-paced courses), PD In Focus (online videos), and virtual coaching, or blended learning, which consists of a combination of methods (face-to-face learning, digital learning, or virtual coaching). ASCD also publishes an extensive library of books by education experts like Robert Marzano, Carol Ann Tomlinson, Charlotte Danielson, and Grant Wiggins. All of these resources contributed to the successful implementation of the two large districts I will discuss next.
Atlanta Public Schools recently completed a two-year professional learning implementation with a focus on building teacher capacity to teach the new Georgia Common Core Performance Standards. After several meetings with the Atlanta administrative team, we developed a framework for improvement to support both teachers and administrators. The groups were assigned PD Online courses to provide the background they would need for the face-to-face sessions. Over the two-year period, the participants developed lasting relationships with the ASCD Faculty experts. It was amazing to see how much the participants interacted throughout the sessions. They were eager to stand up to tell their stories. The sharing of ideas and the appreciation for each other’s contributions was very noticeable. I was pleased to see them taking advantage of all of the ASCD resources.
Pinellas County, Fla., is another success story for ASCD. They are also a large district that wanted to improve teacher capacity to help teachers and administrators implement the new Florida State Standards. Again, the district leaders met with the ASCD team to determine the best combination of resources for a long-term implementation model. Pinellas County also utilized the blended model of face-to-face, PD Online, and virtual vouching opportunities. The district is making huge strides, and they have recently signed on for a third year. After a September session, a participant even said, “This has been the best one yet, I finally get it.”
Chip Marston is the Regional Program Manager for ASCD in the Southeast Region