21st Century Learning, All Posts, Professional Development, QTL Participants' Reflections, Research and Policy

Can Professional Development Have Lasting Impact?

A participant in one of our recent ExplorNet workshops on Multimedia and Webpage Design gave us a pleasant surprise when she told us she had a prior history with our programs. Gail Thompson teaches Business Education now at Raleigh’s Athens Drive High School. But back in 2006 and 2007, she was a teacher at Dillard Middle School in Wayne County when the school implemented the QTL Foundations program. She told us she still uses the concepts she learned in QTL almost every day. We asked if she would share some thoughts, and she graciously agreed to an email interview:

What were your thoughts as you all were going through the QTL program?

In the beginning I didn’t like all the time it took away from planning for the students. I guess about a third of the way in, I found that some of the strategies that I was using could be modified to meet the needs of the different learning styles, especially that Kinesthetic Learner. By the end of the program, I could see some difference in the grades and specifically those who were at-risk.

What were your thoughts as you went back to the classroom and put those ideas to work?

Well, some of those things I had already implemented. I do a lot of research on best practices and really try to learn new ways of teaching. No more lecturing which was the way I was taught. Kids need to hear, see, touch, move, explore the activities and find a way to make a life application with it. Something about it has to be made personal – something in the student’s life that can be linked to the student. When they see how something like a baseball card can be used to make math a little more fun or using the design to create flashcards, will help the student have the desire to learn.

Did your colleagues feel the same?

The Elective teachers really did apply those things as did the Special Programs teachers. We (Elective teachers)needed to be very diverse in our teaching styles because our classrooms were all inclusive. I think for the most part, others began to see the benefit in the activities we were given by Rachel (QTL Instructional Specialist Rachel Porter led the Dillard Middle School sessions). It just took a lot of time because so much from other sources were being thrown at us as well. I think it was a consensus that we had too many new programs at one time and we could have done a better job with less instead of being over-whelmed with more.

In spite of that, did the teachers put the QTL ideas to work and did that have lasting impact?

Yes, we were able to get out of Judge Manning’s (mandates for low-performing schools)… We made AYP and things only got better for Dillard Middle. Even though the new principal brought the program he was using at the elementary school to Dillard 2007-2008, the affect of the things I learned and lessons I was able to expand to another level made a difference in how I presented the information to the students.

You’ve moved on to Athens Drive now. Do you still use some of the same concepts as a high school teacher? If so can you describe an example or two?

I really enjoyed QTL and it has been a carry over for me even now. I am so very happy that we struggled through 2005-2007 to get where we are now.

I still use the Postcard Activity to get demographic information from the students. They place their picture on a card and along with that they give you their correct telephone numbers and address, where their parents work and cell numbers, some important things they want to share such as favorite foods, activities, and etc. I also use the baseball card to do some projects such as elements of design and flash cards for terms. We also move about quite a bit now. I do have invisible stations so the kids get to move around in the room and I create assignments that send them around the school as well.

Is there anything you’d like to add?
Thank you for all you have done to help make me a better instructor.

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About QTL

The Centers for Quality Teaching and Learning expands and supports high quality teaching and effective, supportive leadership. QTL Processes bring together technology, teamwork, student data and research-based instruction to create more engaging lesson design for greater student achievement.

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