Professional Development

40-District Event in Pa. Draws 8,000 for Staff Training

By Bess Keller — November 15, 2005 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

It was big, but no one’s been able to say the biggest.

When roughly 8,000 teachers from 40 school districts in suburban Pittsburgh attended some 480 workshops last month, Pennsylvania educators were pretty sure their state had never seen such a colossal professional-development event. Yet claiming a national superlative would be risky, since no organization appears to keep tabs on such gatherings across the nation.

“It was unique to the state,” ventured John D. Esaias, who coordinated the program.

The massive event grew out of a plan, put together by area superintendents, aimed at increasing student achievement across all 42 districts in Allegheny County. The leaders saw the undertaking as a way to encourage teachers to share classroom practices, especially around the teaching of reading, writing, and mathematics in every subject.

The Oct. 10 affair was originally going to involve maybe 20 districts, “but just mushroomed,” said Sarah Zablotsky, a spokeswoman for the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, an educational services agency for the county that helped organize the day. Eventually, more than 40 local organizations added to the list of workshops, and four local foundations underwrote the project with $100,000. Districts also anted up $11 per participant, a bargain price, experts in professional development said.

Teachers applauded the district cross-pollination, according to Mr. Esaias. But it’s too soon to gauge what the long-term effect might be, he said. The plan envisions workshop groups meeting again and participants visiting each other’s classrooms.

That’s the kind of activity that should be encouraged, said Stephanie Hirsh, the deputy director of the National Staff Development Council, an Oxford, Ohio-based membership organization promoting on-the-job training for education professionals. The field is turning away from single-shot workshops and outside expertise in favor of staff development embedded in the life of a school.

“There’s a place for these kinds of experiences—they build awareness and establish future networks,” Ms. Hirsh said. “But everything is really contingent on what happens after this one day.”

Related Tags:


Student Well-Being K-12 Essentials Forum Social-Emotional Learning: Making It Meaningful
Join us for this event with educators and experts on the damage the pandemic did to academic and social and emotional well-being.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Privacy & Security Webinar
K-12 Cybersecurity in the Real World: Lessons Learned & How to Protect Your School
Gain an expert understanding of how school districts can improve their cyber resilience and get ahead of cybersecurity challenges and threats.
Content provided by Microsoft
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Trauma-Informed Schools 101: Best Practices & Key Benefits
Learn how to develop a coordinated plan of action for addressing student trauma and
fostering supportive, healthy environments.
Content provided by Crisis Prevention Institute

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Professional Development Beyond Just Surveys: Why Educators Should Shadow Their Students
Shadowing kids is a powerful way to get a students’-eye-view of school, said panelists at EdWeek's "Seat at the Table" webinar.
1 min read
Image of an adult and student talking as they walk down a school hallway.
Professional Development Opinion How to Elevate the Voices of Teachers. Try Narrative Pedagogy
The narration of a story can serve as a powerful mechanism for transforming learning.
Rebecca Thomas & Steve Saville
7 min read
shutterstock 276696266
Professional Development What Works—and What Doesn't—in Teacher PD
PD frequently misses the mark. But researchers have learned how to make it count for teachers—and some of their tips are low cost.
7 min read
Young Black girl giving her teacher a high five in a classroom.
Professional Development Spotlight Spotlight on Professional Development for Leadership
This Spotlight will empower you with insights on motivating teachers all year long, improving communication with school staff, and more.