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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

DC focuses teacher training on (!) teaching

D.C. Public Schools’ teacher training was a waste of time, Kelly Vergamini told the Washington Post. “But after spending 90 minutes each Wednesday morning for the past four months with other teachers at H.D. Cooke Elementary, Vergamini said the new approach to improving teachers’ skills feels different,” reports Alejandra Matos.

LEAP is “tailored to improve a teacher’s instructional skills,” she writes. Teachers meet weekly with colleagues teaching the same subject and a coach who’s a subject-matter expert.

Old-style training consisted of a presentation in a theater, said Vergamini, a third- to fifth-grade special education teacher.

In a LEAP training, the school’s English language arts teachers in the same grades met with coach Brittany Skipper to discuss “how to help students interpret a complex reading passage,” writes Matos.

Skipper played a video of a teacher giving a similar lesson in a classroom. The Cooke teachers then talked about the types of questions the teacher asked to get the students to analyze the text, and how they could incorporate those practices in their upcoming lessons.  The teachers also poured over their students’ essays together. The teachers provided ideas for how to retool their lessons based on the concepts the students appeared to have missed.

Kristina Probts, a fifth-grade English language arts teacher, pre-LEAP sessions weren’t helpful. “You came for four hours so that your principal wouldn’t fuss at you,” she said. “This time, everyone is engaged. We are there to share and collaborate.”

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