Professional Development

Texas AFT offers a wide variety of workshops and training at the state and local level. Contact your local office or Texas AFT at 800-222-3827 to find out more.

Accessible Literacy Framework (ALF)

How does one provide reading instruction to students with developmental or intellectual disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy or Down syndrome? ALF is grounded in the premise that reading is at the center of most activities—in and out of school. The essential components of reading instruction—phonological awareness, sound blending, initial phoneme segmentation, letter-sound correspondence, decoding and shared reading—are covered and framed to address emerging literacy needs of students with complex communication needs.

Beginning Reading Instruction

Beginning Reading Instruction (BRI) focuses on how children learn to read and the best ways to teach beginning reading from kindergarten to the end of the primary grades. Because the course contains considerable information on how students develop basic decoding skills, it is also useful for teachers and support staff working with older students who still are having difficulty with decoding and fluency. The course presents a synthesis of the research consensus for beginning reading instruction, and it provides the most effective instructional strategies—aligned to that research—to help students develop print awareness, phonemic awareness, knowledge of the alphabetical system, phonics/decoding skills, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

Colorín Colorado Introductory Workshop for ELL Educators

When English language learners are placed in mainstream classrooms, it can be a huge challenge for the students—and for the educators, whether a mainstream teacher, a paraprofessional, or a veteran ESL instructor. This workshop highlights resources, materials and the latest research to help reach out to ELL families and learn more about literacy skills, academic content and English language acquisition at the same time. The workshop also introduces attendees to the free online materials available on the Colorín Colorado website, which provides preK-12 educators of ELLs of all language backgrounds a high-quality, research-based resource developed by the AFT and PBS station WETA.

Community Schools 101: The Nuts and Bolts

As educators, you know all too well that many of your students come to school with needs that impede their ability to learn. If we are serious about closing the achievement gap, we must address factors that are beyond the control of teachers and schools alone. Important factors such as healthcare, social services and parental involvement often are divorced from school life, although they are crucial to student success. The community schools strategy enables schools and communities to provide the necessary supports for students, families and communities. This course provide an overview of this strategy, including basic elements, core principles, research, community school results (academic and nonacademic), family and community engagement components, site- and system-level implementation, the collaborative leadership framework needed for successful implementation, and examples of successful community school initiatives.

Do We Have the Data We Need to Inform Instruction?

“Create a culture of data use.” “Use data to inform instruction.” These phrases are commonplace in education today. But, how do we know if we’re using the right data? How do we know if state and district test results are being used appropriately? And what role do teacher-developed assessments play in data-driven decision-making? The answers to these and other questions are covered in this workshop. Participants leave with a variety of tips and strategies to take back to their states, districts, schools and classrooms to ensure that they are using the best data for informing programmatic and instructional decision-making.

English Language Learners 101, Module I: Who Are ELLs?

In this first module, participants will develop an understanding of second language acquisition to increase awareness of English language learners’ strengths and empathy for their needs; improve participants’ ability to meet the diverse needs of ELLs and increase their academic achievement; identify strategies to differentiate and scaffold instruction to help students access learning along the stages of language acquisition; increase knowledge of state and federal laws that ensure services for ELLs; and examine preliminary research-based instructional strategies to optimize academic learning for ELLs.

English Language Learners 101, Module II: Second Language Acquisition and Literacy Development

Module II builds on the knowledge gained in Module I and builds the academic language instructional practices that mainstream educators of ELLs need to ensure success with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The course will engage participants in learning about second language acquisition, ELL student literacy development, content-based literacy and meaningful ELL access to the CCSS. The course equips participants with a range of strategies and skills to differentiate instruction for ELLs while ensuring academic rigor. Educators will expand their repertoire by deeply examining their teaching practice through the lens of language and academic standards. Prerequisite: English Language Learners 101, Module I.

Foundations of Effective Teaching I: Organizing the Classroom Environment for Teaching and Learning

This core course addresses the fundamental aspects of teaching and learning that are relevant for teachers and classroom paraprofessionals in all grade levels and subject areas. It examines proven practices for establishing and maintaining classroom management, maximizing use of learning time, questioning and feedback skills, homework, interactive guided instruction strategies, and scaffolding techniques. Covering core topics critical to successful classroom practice, Foundations of Effective Teaching I is recommended as the primary offering for all local sites. It is frequently used as the basis for induction, mentor, and peer assistance programs and is an essential part of any affiliate professional development program.

Foundations of Effective Teaching II: Building Academic Success

This course addresses the challenges teachers are facing to raise the performance levels of all students while also closing the achievement gap. It addresses both environmental and instructional conditions that foster student achievement by (1) examining the effects that teacher expectations and the social context of the classroom have on student learning, and (2) providing an in-depth study of two instructional models—cognitive apprenticeship and cooperative small groups—that actively engage students and address the diversity of their learning needs. This course extends and deepens many concepts introduced in Foundations I; it can be taken either in consecutive years or as an advanced offering for seasoned trainers. While Foundations I is ideal to deliver to novice teachers and paraprofessionals, this advanced course is targeted to more seasoned educators who are prepared to engage in in-depth study and reflective practice. It also may be used to support school improvement teams or schoolwide initiatives to raise achievement. Prerequisite: Foundations of Effective Teaching I.

Instructional Strategies That Work for All Disciplines

This course provides a cognitive research-based approach to lesson planning and design. To develop a comprehensive instructional plan, participants consider the concepts of standards, curriculum and a course map as they generate unit and lesson plans that promote independent learning for students. In this course, instructional strategies are taught in the context of purpose and appropriateness for supporting student learning. Course participants will learn how to develop scoring guides (rubrics) for student tasks; evaluate curriculum materials for any content area and create instructional plans that address the shortcomings of the materials. The information in this course can be applied in K-12 settings and is particularly helpful for students with special needs.

Making Data and Classroom Assessments Work for You

In this course, participants will acquire the knowledge and tools they need to collect and use data, to understand the role of classroom assessments to improve schools, to inform instruction, and to advance learning individually and collaboratively. Specifically, participants will surface their assumptions about data and will begin to identify what’s meant by “data”; will understand two different types of assessment data and their uses and limitations; will better understand how to organize and use standards to help guide instruction and assessment; will better understand how to select, develop and use quality classroom assessments; and will learn how to analyze data to make informed decisions about school improvement and instruction.

Managing Behavior In School Communities

Managing Behavior in School Communities (MBSC) is an AFT Professional Development Program course which presents the most recent and seminal research on challenging student behavior and provides educators and other school personnel with effective strategies for managing unwanted behavior across a number of learning environments. The course reviews what is found in AFT’s Foundations course, Beginning of the Year Classroom Management (BYCM), and takes the research to the next level for students who do not respond to basic prevention through effective classroom management. MBSC will provide teachers and support staff with the information, tools, and skills they may need to prevent or eliminate challenging or antisocial behaviors and/or to manage much of this behavior when it occurs.

Managing Student Behavior for Support Staff

This course is designed for paraprofessionals and school-related personnel who have contact with and/or are responsible for overseeing the behavior and safety of large numbers of students outside the classroom setting, whether that setting is the cafeteria, school bus, office, playground or school corridors. The course will teach school-related personnel and paraprofessionals about how to manage large groups of students as well as difficult and disruptive students.

Mind in the Making

Ellen Galinsky’s book Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Skills Every Child Needs provides the content for the Mind in the Making modules, which are designed to bridge theory and practice. The research in the modules is based on the most recent work of neuroscientists and researchers of child development. The seven skills are: focus and self-control; perspective taking; communicating; making connections; critical thinking; taking on challenges; and self-directed, engaged learning. The training is geared to parents and early childhood providers and teachers.

Reading Comprehension Instruction

Reading Comprehension Instruction (RCI) focuses on the research and exemplary practices that help students acquire strong reading comprehension skills. RCI is appropriate for all K-12 teachers and support staff who need to help increase their students’ comprehension of text—whether that text is a literature selection or informational text. The course provides participants with a synthesis of the research base on reading comprehension instruction and vocabulary development. Participants examine, discuss and evaluate the appropriate application of a range of instructional strategies from explicit to implicit teaching of comprehension skills. Strategies are presented for increasing student comprehension of both narrative and expository texts. In addition, participants learn how to help students self-monitor comprehension and apply appropriate “fix-up” strategies when comprehension is not achieved. Practice in using instructional strategies and examples of student work are embedded in the course.

School, Family and Community: Partnerships That Support Student Learning

The primary function of this course is to help school staff understand how they can assist parents to better support their children as learners. Topics explored include (1) using effective communication strategies to develop learning partnerships with families; (2) designing more productive homework assignments to involve families; (3) explaining classroom work and grading systems to parents; (4) developing schoolwide parent involvement plans; and (5) examining the role of school absenteeism on student learning.

Share My Lesson: Free resources developed by teachers, for teachers

Launched in July 2012 by the AFT and TES Connect, Share My Lesson, is an innovative Web-based platform that provides anyone who works with students—both inside and outside of schools—a place to collaborate and share their best practices, to address many of the pressing challenges confronting schools and communities in the U.S. The site provides more than 400,000 free resources covering all grades and subjects. The site also includes a dedicated section on the Common Core State Standards and provides a growing collection of resources aligned to the standards. Users of the site can share their own resources and download resources from colleagues in their own school, state or from across the country. This workshop includes a demonstration of the site and examples of how states, districts and schools are using it to engage educators, connect teachers and parents, provide supports for new teachers, and more.

Strategies for Student Success

Strategies for Student Success is a research-based AFT program consisting of modules that address teaching and learning aspects of the classroom for new and veteran teachers alike. These modules are designed to be delivered in three hours, which creates a manageable method of connecting with educators. The goals of this program are to offer high-quality professional development, strengthen institutions for teaching and learning, and support locals in their organizing efforts. Modules include:

  • Activating Learning in All Disciplines
  • Beyond Classroom Management
  • Coherent, Cohesive Teaching and Learning
  • Constructing Effective Classroom Assessments
  • Cooperative Learning Groups
  • Customer Service
  • Differentiating Instruction
  • Essential Structures for Academic Learning
  • Engaging Students’ Long-Term Memory
  • The Face Cards in My Deck
  • The Game Factor
  • Handling Stress
  • Homework: Let’s Get It Right
  • Is My Teaching Effective?
  • LINCS: A Learner Strategy
  • Making Parents and Guardians Partners in Educating Students
  • Rethinking Punishment
  • Setting Measurable Objectives
  • Social Media, Students and Learning
  • Success Begins with You
  • Supporting English Language Learners
  • Using Questions To Teach and Learn
  • What Effective Schools Do When Students Don’t Succeed: The Power of Collaboration
  • Words Can Nurture or Hurt: Are You a Feedback Friend or Foe?

Thinking Mathematics K-2

This beginning Thinking Math course focuses on research about how children learn mathematics and implications of these findings for the classroom. Ten Principles capture practices that lead to a better understanding of math for all students and are applicable at all grade levels. The principles—which deal with ideas such as tapping what students know, helping them visualize problems, and building the expectation and ability to justify their work—are exemplified through the research on counting, addition and subtraction. The course takes a broad look at the importance of recognizing and using patterns and relationships throughout math, addresses the kind of questioning that promotes thinking in math class, and provides a framework for implementing curriculum and lessons.

Thinking Mathematics 3-5

Redesigned to help teachers examine, understand and make specific links to mathematics standards, this course opens with a brief introduction to the research-based Ten Principles. Participants consider patterns and relationships in mathematics, including those in the multiplication tables and focus on the Standards for Mathematical Practice. They examine the differences between multiplicative and additive structures, including the new role numbers have as they begin to represent not only single objects but also composite units. Participants also review the variety of problem types in the multiplicative structures. Representations to help students understand include diagrams, charts, and t-tables as well as arrays and area models, which receive strong emphasis in the standards. Use of the distributive property and the beginnings of proportional reasoning are stressed as well as the various treatments that may be required for division remainders in contextualized problems. Stress is placed on the importance of matching language to situations.

Thinking Mathematics 6-8

The middle school course is redesigned to allow teachers to reflect on and connect the standards to research on how students learn mathematics. The Ten Principles of Thinking Math and the Standards for Mathematical Practice are linked and attention paid to how concepts and skills develop. Using geometry as a starting point, participants explore ways to help students understand linear functions and rate of change with emphasis on linking various ways of seeing the same problem. Practices such as reasoning, constructing viable arguments, precision and looking for mathematical structure combine with Principles of Thinking Mathematics such as helping students visualize problems, requiring them to discuss and justify their mathematical thinking, using situational problems to connect mathematics to life, and balancing conceptual and procedural knowledge to develop such understanding.

Workers’ Rights in a Technology-Driven World

Today, more than 600 million people visit Facebook each month, more than 175 million people have a Twitter account, and more people are using a single smartphone or email account to conduct personal and professional activities. Did you know that every email you send from your work email is archived and saved? Did you know that school staff are being suspended, fired or forced to resign based on their Facebook postings? Do you know your rights in our technology-driven world? This workshop addresses your rights both on and away from school grounds when using technology, how to keep your personal information and networking sites private, and strategies for how to use technology appropriately in the workplace.