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Secondary English Professional Development School Guidebook

Welcome to the PDS

Congratulations on your decision to spend a year interning in the State College Area School District! The year ahead of you is going to be foundational in your development as a teacher, and as you work closely with mentors, the PDS associates, the PDS consultants, and your fellow interns, our hope is that you will be constantly learning. At this point you may be feeling a variety of things as you look forward to the coming year, ranging from excitement to apprehension. The purpose of this guidebook is to help allay some of those fears by giving you an idea of what the forthcoming year may entail for you. Since one of the central tenets of the PDS philosophy is that no two interns’ experiences will be identical, think of this guidebook more as informative than prescriptive. This is not a map. Rather, it is a sextant that can help you continually position yourself as you create your own map, one that will be as individual, creative, and as lively as you make it to be. 

A Guide for the Guidebook

As you read through this guidebook, and indeed as you intern throughout the year, you will most likely encounter terms, phrases, and concepts that are new or somewhat unfamiliar. Part of learning to be a teacher is learning the discourse, and the PDS is based on acquiring this discourse through immersion and negotiation, rather than lecture and memorization. Feel free to ask questions, look for clarification, research your questions, and share your inquiries because the process will generate new layers of understanding for everyone. Asking questions will not make you look dumb; asking questions will allow us to increase our knowledge base. As a community of learners, an integral part of our collaboration involves asking questions: of our students, our teachers, our colleagues, our readings, and ourselves. Constructing ideas through exploration and negotiation, instead of finding the right answers, will be helpful to keep in mind as you journey throughout the coming year. Sometimes, the questions we pose only lead to more questions, never answers. Embrace ambiguity and uncertainty! 

What is the PDS?

If you ask five people this very question, you are most likely going to receive at least six different answers. While at first this may seem confusing, it may help to remember that the PDS is different for each individual participating in the program. The flexibility and ambiguity of the program is its chief beauty, and can also be its most challenging component.

The PDS is comprised of a unique collaboration between four sets of people: secondary school students, novice teachers (interns), veteran teachers (mentors and PDS associates), and university personnel (professors, instructors, and graduate students). The collaboration provides opportunities for all of those involved to develop as professionals, but the central purpose of the PDS collaboration is to continually improve the learning experiences of the students in our classrooms

Our PDS Mission

In order to construct a community of learning, all members of the State College-Penn State Secondary English Professional Development Partnership promote collaboration and reflection; embrace diverse identities and literacies; and seek shared knowledge, agency, and equity.

We believe:

  • Literacy uses and experiences shape possible identities and relationships
  • Our community of learners (including students, mentors, interns, PDA’s, and university partners) actively engage in learning with and from one another
  • Collaboration involves co-planning, co-teaching, and co-questioning
  • Reflection involves self-reflection and dialogue, using both written and spoken forms 

PDS Goals

As a community, we seek to:
  • Allow future teachers to be immersed in all aspects of teaching
  • Make the “pre-service” experience more like the first year of teaching, with extra support
  • Test pedagogy in action, put theory into practice, and co-develop and implement curriculum.
  • Continually improve curriculum and instruction
  • Afford teachers the opportunity to examine pedagogy in a supportive community
  • Engage in reflective practice and develop reflective practitioners
  • Encourage collaboration between faculty at all levels of experience
  • Promote collaboration as a form of democracy
  • Develop a whole faculty identity for interns (i.e. a broader view of institution and access to the school year’s history and culture)
  • Develop a collegial identity for interns, mentors, supervisors, and consultants
  • Humanize education for and with all students, especially those who are typically marginalized
  • Inform and rethink teacher education through practice
  • Enact educational reform by changing the program for teacher education, and thereby changing institutional structures
  • Promote better relationships and communications between communities, secondary schools, and universities
  • Bridge the gap between universities and secondary schools through collaboration
  • Transform theory into classroom practice and publish about our experiences
  • Promote scholarship and inquiry as part of teaching activities
  • Promote inquiry as a form of classroom learning 

An Inquiry Culture

One term you will hear throughout the year is “inquiry.” You might be unfamiliar with this term, or wonder how it applies to you. Inquiry as used within the context of the PDS primarily means that you will learn things as you need to know them. The inquiry model tries to develop a form of learning where knowledge is urgent because it arises from needs or questions or curiosities within your everyday activity. Although this may seem different from some of the traditional learning you have encountered up to now, chances are you use the inquiry model already in your daily lives, possibly without even knowing you’re doing so. Every time you search for information to find out something you want to know, you’re using the inquiry model. A central goal of the PDS is to generate a culture of inquiry to improve the learning of students, interns, mentors, and all other PDS associates. The inquiry model presents strategies to structure our activities. 

Inquiry learning is characterized by: 

  • A community of learners in which members with a range of experience and knowledge contribute with equal power and voice
  • Potentially infinite directions for members to organize experiences to serve/question personal/community learning purposes
  • A strong reliance on first-hand experiences, and the analysis of patterns in those experiences to generate knowledge (experience ideas/texts in action instead of just adopting ideas/interpretations already defined)
  • Inviting all members to share descriptions of their experience to expand and share the base for analysis, not to establish right and wrong answers
  • Authoring and sharing ideas synthesized through experience (talking, writing, drawing, filming, documenting, etc.)
  • Continuous questioning by all of the value of particular words, actions, and artifacts to accomplish desired activities and knowledge
  • Continuous revision of activity and knowledge to better serve the immediate interests and needs of all community members, and to facilitate the movement of ideas and people across boundaries of space, time, and culture
  • Through ongoing social interaction, continually inform each other’s understanding and next inquiry 
Developing an Inquiry Stance:
The following general “To-Do List” supports an inquiring stance for interns within the busy school life of a full time apprentice teacher. Use these activities to help you achieve your goals.
  • Observe and Reflect: keep your CI 495 professional reflective journal. Note incidents that seem critical to make sense of them, and explore why you noted the incident in the first place (see Ethnographic Eyes). Observe and reflect on other classes too!
  • Write and Create: Maintain a journal and keep track of the variety of writings you compose over the year (platform, lessons, inquiry paper, unit plans, etc.)
  • Gather Artifacts: collect for reflection and analysis, videotape or make an audio of classroom; compile student work and teaching materials,; take photos, etc.
  • Read for Professional Development and Coursework: read a variety of assigned and selected texts to support your learning and to inquire - research articles, teacher blogs, NCTE or other professional resources that are available online and in the PDS library.
  • Talk through Experiences: dialogue daily with mentor, attend all PDS meetings, initiate reflective conversations with other interns, university and SCASD PDA’s; talk with friends and family. Trust: be sure to honor at all times the trusting relationships in our learning community and to maintain confidentiality

Coursework and Inquiry Projects

Throughout the year you will be working on various projects as a part of your PDS responsibilities. Guidelines for these projects are outlined on course syllabi, and more details will be provided in advance of the due dates. All English interns will meet periodically on Wednesdays for full 1⁄2 day or full day seminars (see schedule below) and will also meet from 4:00 – 6:00 PM one Thursdays for seminar. These meeting times are designed to foster your inquiries and to explore theory and foundational knowledge that you can apply in practice. University coursework will be an integral part of these seminars, and your attendance is required at all seminars. 


Registration in University Courses

English Interns will be registered into the PDS courses according to the table below. Master’s students and some undergraduate students might need additional evening courses on campus or online that are not embedded into the PDS. 

SemesterFallSpringSummer*
Undergraduates and Graduates

LLED 411

LLED 480

CI 495E (6 cr)

CI 495 (6 cr)

LLED 542

Undergraduates only LLED 420 sect 002

LLED 412

CI 495 (6 cr)

CI 501 or CI 596
Graduates only LLED 520 

LLED 512

CI 595 (6 cr)

CI 501

*All interns must enroll in a course during summer session (Maymester) and will pay summer tuition during May/June of the internship year. Please include this course in your financial planning. Undergraduates can choose to register for 1 credit of CI 596 or CI 501 (a three-credit course). Master’s students must register for CI 501, a degree requirement. 

A note about scheduling: In previous years, interns have found it very difficult to take other courses during the school year. Please plan to complete all remaining degree/certification requirements in the summer to avoid additional stresses during the school year. Please contact your advisor or talk to Dr. Knotts for advice if needed. Also, another stress-related issue is part- time employment. We highly discourage outside work and encourage you to seek financial aid. 

PDS Intern Seminar Schedule 2018-19: For your planning purposes, dates for secondary PDS Wednesday seminars are listed below. Locations for Wednesdays may vary and these, as well as any changes that emerge, will be communicated as soon as possible. We will also meet for weekly seminars on Thursdays after school from 4:00 – 6:00 PM in room D216 at SCAHS. All seminars are required for interns, and they cannot be excused. 

Date and DayTime

Sept 12th (B)

Sept 19th (A)

Sept 26th (B) 

8:15 - 11:15

12:45 - 3:45

8:30 - 3:30 

Oct 10 (B)

Oct 24 (B)

Oct 31 (A) 

8:15 - 11:15

8:30 - 3:30

12:45 - 3:45 

Nov 7 (A)

Nov 14 (B)

Nov 28 (B) 

8:30 - 3:30

8:15 - 11:15

12:45 - 3:45 

Dec 5 (A)

Dec 19 (A) 

8:30 - 3:30

8:30 - 3:30 

Jan 9 (A)

Jan 16 (B)

Jan 30 (A) 

8:15 - 11:15

12:45 - 3:45

8:30 - 3:30 

Feb 13 (A)

Feb 20 (A)

Feb 27 (B) 

8:15 - 11:15

12:45 - 3:45

8:30 - 3:30 

Mar 13 (A)

Mar 27 (A) 

8:15 - 11:15

12:45 - 3:45 

April 10 (B)

April 17 (A)

Additional seminars in March and April may be scheduled as needed for job search and prep for Inquiry Conference 

8:15 - 11:15

12:45 - 3:45 

May/June ? 

TBD

Inquiry Paper and Presentation: The annual SCASD-PSU PDS Inquiry Conference will be held on Saturday, April 27, 2019. At this conference all interns, including elementary, along with interested mentors and other PDS associates will present classroom inquiry projects. Parents/families, district administrators, and Penn State faculty and personnel are also invited, and teachers from other school districts, especially PDS alum, often attend as well. Based on this inquiry presentation, interns must write a paper suitable for publication. Graduate students use this paper as part of their M.Ed. requirements, and Schreyer Honors students use it as their thesis. 

PDS Schedule

Daily Schedule: You should arrive by 8:15 AM each day and plan to be at the high school until at least 4:00 PM. Interns will attend a seminar at the high school from 4:00 – 6:00 PM on Thursdays. Schedules are individual and depend on context, but generally you will have one preparation period in common with your mentor, and one additional period for inquiry reading and writing – protect that time and use it efficiently. Interns are expected to attend PLC meetings with their mentors and iPLC meetings as assigned. Additionally, interns will attend some faculty meetings and department meetings; your PDA’s (Mary Lou and Raeann) will provide guidance about when to attend faculty and department meetings. 

NOTE: There may be additional demands on your time to best support your students and the relationship you have with your mentor. At certain times during the school year (beginning and end of units and marking periods) additional grading and planning may occur and result in dedicating time outside of the school day (evenings and weekends).

School Schedule: Interns follow the school district schedule for holidays, vacation, and in-service activity, and school policies for absences. Every time you are absent, you must notify your mentor(s), Michelle, Raeann, and Mary Lou in advance of the absence. If you are taking a professional day or planned personal day, you are expected to email everyone you work with at least 48 hours in advance. Please include date(s) of absence and reason for absence. Please see the CI 495 syllabus for more details about attendance policy.

Some of the PDS activities and responsibilities are required for interns and PDS associates, but are invitations for mentors. Mentors are always welcome to participate in all PDS activities and seminars. 

Final Thoughts

As an intern you might sometimes wonder what, exactly, it is you are supposed to be doing. Although the answer to that question will vary from intern to intern, it might help if you keep in mind that, at its most elemental, the PDS is a collaboration between a novice teacher (intern) and a veteran teacher (mentor) to better serve students. Take advantage of this apprenticeship model to learn from your mentor – although you might not always agree on everything, and that’s okay. In fact, difference is the engine of learning. Always remember that your students are your most powerful and lasting teachers. As you work in a collaborative, co-teaching environment, you will have the unique opportunity to learn by reflecting with your mentor about shared work with students. Make the most of this opportunity. 

Past mentors composed the following list of ideas to help interns be successful:

  • Take initiative. Don’t wait for answers to find you, seek out information.
  • Make the cognitive shift from thinking as “student” to thinking as “teacher” early in the school year. See yourself as a professional, and act accordingly.
  • Do your part in building relationships of mutual trust and support, working to be good partners with your mentor teacher and others.
  • Hold an inquiring stance. Learn how to question without being critical and how to be questioned without being defensive.
  • Actively create a vision of what kind of teacher you want to be.
  • Demonstrate confidence in front of the classroom and in meetings. If you don’t always feel confident, learn how to fake it!
  • Understand and value the fact that each intern’s experience is unique; realize that negative comparisons (“I’m working harder; s/he isn’t doing the same things”) are counter-productive
  • Know that the greater your personal investment, the greater the return.
  • Be self-directed. Be able to know your own needs and learn how to ask for help and support from mentors, supervisors, and consultants.
  • Be open to questions.
  • Be open to change.
  • Read voraciously.
  • Find ways to be a resource to your mentor.
  • Work to learn as much as possible.