Professional Development

Professional Development

Effective professional development is built upon collaborative learning that is research supported, active, content-focused, provides feedback and reflection, and is guided to ensure successful integration into daily classroom teaching and practice.

We collaborate with you and your team to:

  • Develop a long-term shared mission, vision, and action plan for professional development
  • Create an action plan with a timeline outlining identified action steps
  • Establish effective Professional Learning Communities that can collect and analyze data and design effective, targeted instruction and intervention plans
  • Provide and support ongoing, job embedded learning that meet the needs of teachers in their support of students
  • Create learning modules focused on reflective professional inquiry into research supported best practices aligned to goals
  • Create methods of providing evidence of success and commitment to continuous improvement

Focus on PK-12 District Literacy Alignment

A well designed and implemented District-wide Literacy Plan requires a comprehensive strategic plan for Multi-Tiered Systems of Services (MTSS). Tier One, or core classroom instruction, ensures that every student is engaged in an evidence-based, well researched  program that provides scaffolded instruction in reading, writing, listening, speaking, and critical thinking.  Standard aligned instructional goals are designed to provide voice and choice, as students personalize their learning, while meeting clear outcomes. Assessment and observation are used to identify students that struggle, or exceed expectations and need challenge. Struggling students receive intervention that accelerates students to grade level using a variety of proven developmentally appropriate methods. Students in need of enrichment are provided with opportunities to  challenge students and extend classroom instruction. A cohesive Professional Development Plan supports teachers in all aspects of the MTSS process.


In one PreK-12 community, we used data collected from assessments, surveys, and focus groups to develop foundational training for teachers. All teachers and leaders were grouped into Professional Learning Communities and set their group’s vision and goals for the year. Over time, through a combination of book study and training sessions, we worked together to develop a three year plan for the PLCs.

“Dr. Houck also understands the critical nature of collecting evidence indicating the level of implementation of the training sessions. She provided leadership in creating observation protocols and surveys designed to give us specific feedback on the implementation of our professional learning and to determine future areas of growth.”

(Joseph Vieau, Director of Teaching and Learning)

Professional Development for Effective Elementary Literacy Instruction

Districts that focus on the skills and strategies needed to build students’ literacy foundation benefit from an analysis of current practices and student development. Professional Development views these practices from the lens of culturally relevant instructional and literacy research. Instructional delivery and resources are analyzed to ensure student engagement within an environment that integrates the experiences and cultures of the community so that students develop positive understandings and identities while developing as passionate readers, writers, and communicators.


In a large district, we worked with district and school leadership and building coaches and teachers to develop a structure for instructional change and improvement. Our target was to develop intermediate literacy instruction. Within a Balanced Literacy Gradual Release of Responsibility Instructional Framework, we deconstructed standards to develop focused learning targets to strengthen whole group and small group instruction and independent learning opportunities to develop self-motivated readers, writers, and problem solvers

“Dr. Houck’s work has done more for my professional growth in the area of literacy than any other staff development opportunity I have had in my 19 years in education. The work I did with Dr. Houck completely changed the way I view whole group and small group instruction. Further, I have a much more solid understanding of the standards and the level of rigor needed for students to achieve the standards. As a principal, I can now give specific, targeted feedback relative to the standards and to whole and small group instruction. I now have a clear vision, in large part due to our learning about balanced literacy instruction, the gradual release of responsibility, and the use of formative assessments to guide instructional decision-making.”

(Ann Haggerty, Elementary School Principal)

Professional Development in Disciplinary Literacy

Integrating literacy into all areas of teaching and learning can support every student’s reading, writing, and communication abilities, while creating interest in areas where students are fully engaged. By redefining our view of texts, we ensure that any learning resource that students interact with is viewed as text that can deepen the critical thinking and problem-solving abilities necessary for independent thinking and learning. Delving deeply into these texts and participation in collaborative discussion, both orally and in writing, reinforces the skills and strategies learning in the Language Arts classroom and extends and expands literacy development and achievement.

Culturally and Linguistically Relevant Instruction

Teaching communities can work together to develop classrooms that reflect the diverse people, perspectives, histories, and values in society. Using tools to analyze current texts and resources used in daily instruction to ensure that they reflect the diversity of our students is important.  Learners are inspired when immersed in stimulating environments that offer mirrors, windows, sliding doors, and access to diverse experiences! Readers flourish when they have equitable access to self-selected texts in rich and diverse classroom libraries. Developing instruction to connect students to texts that foster identity and increase social-emotional health can support a curriculum that is culturally and linguistically relevant and responsive!


The Weed to Reseed workshops have been offered through local districts and organizations, as well as national conferences. Equipped with research and rubrics to reflect on current practices and instructional resources, educators evaluated, revised, and replaced texts with resources to foster identity, increase social-emotional health and offer window, mirror and sliding glass door experiences supporting culturally responsive teaching.  In one district, this workshop was offered to the entire ELA Committee, as well as in individual schools. Teachers and leaders were provided many workshops to learn about and discuss their own explicit and implicit biases, but needed an opportunity to review their school culture, teaching practices, and the resources used for instruction from the lens of culturally relevant teaching.

“The Elementary Literacy Committee in Eastern Carver County Public Schools was fortunate to attend a workshop last Spring focusing on reviving classroom libraries with culturally relevant texts facilitated by Dr. Bonnie Houck. By the end of our time with Dr. Houck, we were armed with the ability to ensure our shared libraries affirmed the identities of diverse students and reflected the ethnic, racial, and cultural groups within our district and classrooms. We learned the importance of looking past the cover of a book to use character portrayal, author identity, and context of the text to provide windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors for our students’ reading opportunities. Likely, the most useful take away was gaining access to Dr. Houck’s Culturally Relevant and Responsive Text Analysis and Evaluation Rubric. The rubric gave us a hands-on tool we were able to bring back to our classroom for practical classroom library weeding and revival!”

(Carol Redmond, Elementary Literacy Coach, Eastern Carver County Schools)