Resources: Professional Development, School Restructuring, and Small Schools

Bay Area Coalition for Equitable Schools
BayCES’s website provides a substantial range of tools, ideas, inspirations, and resources for creating small schools from large schools and for establishing new small schools. Throughout, BayCES keeps a close focus on equity, emphasizing professional development that creates opportunities for all students to learn. The BayCES newsletter, Schools by Design, is available on the site and is a particularly useful view inside the BayCES schools. Look for BayCES coach Pharmicia Mosely’s “Coach Reflections.” Mosely is a school coach at Life Academy and Youth Empowerment School (both schools are the subject of an article in this issue of Horace; see “Life Academy and Fremont High School: Lessons for Large School Conversions,”) and her observations offer another valuable perspective on the professional development happening at these newly formed small schools.


North Central Regional Educational Laboratory
NCREL provides a professional development needs assessment that serves as a useful resource for determining a school staff’s strengths and challenges. It’s not geared specifically for the professional development needs of small or converting schools, but much of what’s there can be adapted. NCREL’s site also contains “Professional Development: Learning from the Best,” a comprehensive overview of successful professional development strategies.
Professional Development Strategies


Small Schools and Teacher Professional Development
Michael Klonsky, director of the Small Schools Workshop at the University of Illinois, Chicago (more from the Small Schools Workshop below) wrote this ERIC digest that serves as one of the few specific resources available for creating teacher learning in small school settings. It’s a concise overview of research that highlights the particular opportunities that small schools offer for high-quality, productive professional development, emphasizing the autonomy and agency that teachers in small schools have to direct their own professional development. They can, and do, learn collaboratively, and that leads to gains in student achievement.


School Redesign Network
Along with its wide-ranging resources on new small schools and conversion projects, the Stanford School Redesign Network has collected “Resources for Professional Community.” This well-edited list of staff development strategies focuses on creating teacher collaboration designed to support student learning in freestanding small schools and in schools in the midst of dramatic shifts from large to small. The “Teachers & Professional Community Resources” link at the top of the list, which connects to the School Redesign Network’s study kit, is particularly helpful.


Small Schools Workshop
In addition to useful online resources about the merits of small schools, the Small Schools Workshop offers hands-on professional development designed for your school and community. This includes a feasibility study, which indicates areas of challenge that a large school is likely to face as it transitions to smaller schools. Such insight is crucial to creating and maintaining the focus needed to keep pressing forward on academic improvement throughout the change process, and the experienced and insightful Small Schools Workshop staff can help.


“A Professional Development Stance for Equity”
This short article by Mark Kaufman from TERC’s semi-annual magazine Hands On! describes how to integrate a focus on equity into the professional development process. It was written in 1996, but wears its years well, functioning as a concise overview of professional development based on inquiry, data analysis, best practices, and teacher leadership.


CES Regional Centers
Each of the nineteen CES regional centers (of which BayCES, discussed above, is one) offers school coaching, workshops, and other professional development opportunities that are geared for the needs and concerns of particular regions. CES regional centers are staffed by educators and researchers who have many years of experience supporting schools that aim to reflect the CES Common Principles. If you’re not already in touch with a CES regional center near you, visit the CES National website for the full list and contact information.
CES Regional Center List:


CES Resources for Teacher Collaboration and Learning
CES’s website has collected the best of CES practice and study over the twenty-year Coalition history. Its compilation of resources related to teacher collaboration and learning gathers past Horace articles, resources from Fall Forums, and more in a long list of ideas for professional development that focuses on enhancing and improving teaching and learning in Coalition schools.