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March 13, 2017 Reading Time: 3 minutes

In my previous blogs, I described the first three criteria for a high-quality professional development workshop analyzed in the recent report, “Bridging the Gap: Paving the Pathway from Current Practice to Exemplary Professional Learning,” published by the Frontline Research and Learning Institute. The criteria that were discussed are sustained learning, intensive instruction, and collaborative engagement and how AIER’s Teach-the-Teachers Initiative complies with them. Today, I want to explore the next criterion listed in the Every Student Succeeds Act: being job embedded.

As defined in the “Bridging the Gap” report, to be considered job embedded, the professional development event should be “a part of the ongoing, regular work of instruction and related to teaching and learning taking place in real time in the teaching and learning environment.” A distinctive feature of AIER’s Teach-the-Teachers workshops is the follow-up with the participants after the workshop is complete. After a lesson idea is developed and evaluated during the workshop, teachers have the option to refine and implement this idea in their classroom in the fall semester. We help teachers to develop pre- and post-assessment instruments for students and provide the feedback for a proposed application of pedagogy and use of instructional resources.

The field test is the most exciting part of the workshop, as we learned from the participants. It allows teachers to be creative and to embed the economic concepts they learned at the workshop into their regular work of instruction. Many creative lessons were executed through the three years of the TTI. I described several of them in my paper published in the “Perspectives on Economic Education Research.”

Teachers’ feedback about the field-test assignment, which we obtain from evaluation forms as well as from reflection essays they submit to us, has been very positive and encouraging. It shows that the exercise is job-embedded and therefore presents long-lasting benefits. After the field test, teachers reflect on a big improvement of their own understanding of economic concepts, and this suggests that they will become better instructors for years to come. This is exactly what we want to see, since our goal is to have an impact on more and more students as they go through their high school careers.

These is what the teachers told us:

  • “The value of the AIER workshop came from our immersion in active learning exercises and interactive online resources. In all, the AIER workshop and field test added new dimensions to my teaching.”
  • “I enjoyed teaching my lesson because students were engaged and learned about economics, as proven by their gains on the post-assessment. “
  • “This learning experience taught me a greater lesson about integrating economics and history instruction.”
  • “The lesson sharing was by far my favorite because I got so many ideas for implementing many topics into my class and seeing how teachers would incorporate the resources we learned in their actual class. Some were small little ideas and some were ideas that made me think about changing around the focus of an entire unit.”
  • The workshop in general was extremely beneficial, but actually presenting the lesson had a very positive impact on myself and that class.”

In conclusion, it is fair to say, in my view, that TTI workshops satisfy the criterion of being job embedded.

 

Picture: Participants at AIER’s Teach-the-Teachers workshop in Boston in June 2016. Photo by Leah LaRiccia.

 

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Natalia Smirnova, PhD

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