Montview Elementary School,
The practice: Professional development should provide opportunities to gain an understanding of the theory underlying the knowledge and skills being learned.
Montview Elementary School in Aurora, Colorado, serves over 850 disadvantaged students in grades K-5. Teachers recognized that the gaps in their students' learning would not change until they understood more about how children develop literacy and how best to teach literacy to each child. After searching for a professional development program that was research-based and results-driven, Montview selected Literacy Learning Network's New Zealand approach to literacy development.
Each teacher received four-days of initial training in the program's philosophy, instructional strategies, and use of ongoing assessment data. Following the training teachers were expected to implement the program in their classrooms. Since the initial training, however, teachers realized that four days was inadequate to give them the essential knowledge and skills they needed to be successful.
Teachers and teacher leaders at the school decided to extend their understanding of reading and writing development in children. They recognized that having strategies alone was insufficient to help them deal with the many different types of learners they had. They needed to understand how children learn to read and write, have a working knowledge with various theories of literacy development, know to determine where children were in the developmental process, and how to select, apply, and adapt appropriate strategies to meet each student's need.
To develop additional knowledge, teachers read books and articles, study current research,
attend dialogue sessions, go to conferences to learn from experts, participate in additional
training, talk about individual student's development, and share what they discovered in their
own practice. Teachers are never satisfied that they have all the knowledge they need and
continue to deepen their own content knowledge about literacy.