The University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Public School Initiatives developed New or Experienced Teacher Academies as a means to learn, enhance, or refine pedagogical understanding or knowledge of instructional techniques. We base each Academy on (but not limited to)
- foundational elements such as models of teaching, explicit instruction, and learning theory;
- standards-based lesson design and instructional delivery;
- communication with various stakeholder groups;
- student engagement techniques;
- use of data to inform instructional decision-making; and
- cross-disciplinary literacy connections throughout.
Rosenshine (1987) describes explicit instruction as a "systematic method of teaching with emphasis on proceeding in small steps, checking for student understanding, and achieving active and successful participation by all students" (p. 34). Archer and Hughes (2011) say that explicit instruction is an "unambiguous and direct approach to teaching that incorporates instruction design and delivery" (p. 1). These authors highlight words such as systematic, small steps, checking for student understanding, active and successful participation by all students, and unambiguous and direct approach as key tenets of explicit instruction.
Our goal is to customize each Academy based on district need yet incorporate the components listed above. Additionally, we structure sessions to allow for ample practice opportunities, time to apply or develop newly learned concepts or skills, and follow-up support to monitor implementation and provide differentiated feedback based on individual teacher needs. Pioneering research by Joyce and Showers (1982) concluded that professional development with theory, practice, and demonstration alone is not sufficient for teachers to transfer and implement. Follow-up coaching is an essential element.