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US Department of Ed Launches Teacher Development Program

Why aren't colleges of education up in arms over this? What will it take to get them to become politically savvy--and active?

Educators nationwide will have an opportunity to learn techniques from some of the nation's best teachers, thanks to a new professional development program launched April 21 by the U.S. Department of Education (ED).

The Teacher-to-Teacher initiative consists of four main activities focused on teachers: roundtable discussions to be held this spring and summer to discuss effective teaching strategies; summer professional development workshops; eMail updates of the latest policies and research from ED; and a research summit to be held in Washington, D.C., this July.

The program is the result of feedback gathered at teacher roundtables held nationwide, in which many educators expressed the view that although the goals of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) are honorable, they are not attainable.

"There's a fear that it can't be done," said Ray Simon, ED's assistant secretary of elementary and secondary education. "Teachers feel they need additional support."

The Teacher-to-Teacher initiative aims to help educators meet NCLB's ambitious goals. "We determined the best partnership [ED] could form with local districts is in professional development," Simon said. "Professional development is going to be key ... It's our obligation to help [teachers] be the very best they can be."

The Teacher eMail Updates will address issues such as student testing, adequate yearly progress, and accountability. They'll also contain links to the latest research and other professional development opportunities taking place around the United States.

ED hopes teams of teachers will participate together in the summer workshops, which will be held in seven cities nationwide: Anaheim, Calif.; Boston; Denver; Pittsburgh; Orlando; Portland, Ore.; and St. Louis, Mo.

"As a team, we believe they'll have better success at going back to their schools with what they learned and making it successful," Simon said.

ED expects workshop participants will return to their school districts and share what they learned with others through the train-the-trainer model. The workshops are offered at no charge, but school districts will have to absorb the costs of travel and accommodations.

The workshops can accommodate 200 people and will be conducted by successful teachers, Simon said. ED also will make DVDs and CD-ROMs of the workshop proceedings available to educators who can't attend, he added.

Teachers interested in attending a workshop or signing up for the Teacher eMail Updates can find more details on the initiative's web site.


Teacher-to-Teacher initiative

— Cara Branigan


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