This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Concerned about the number of new teachers constantly cycling through their schools, ACORN members have initiated a unique collaboration with the School District and Philadelphia Federation of Teachers to provide the training and support that new teachers need to get up to speed quickly.
This February, twelve new teachers started the 20-week pilot professional development program, called "ACORNS to OAKS," developed by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Health and Welfare Fund. The program combines in-class coaching with bi-weekly classes in effective teaching methods, including training in classroom management, instructional strategies, and how to use learning time effectively.
The program is funded by the District, and includes teachers from Blaine, Blankenburg, Reynolds, and Martha Washington Elementary Schools. For ACORN, it is part of a broader teacher quality campaign.
Teacher participants have been enthusiastic about the program and the concrete teaching strategies they have learned. Eileen Driscoll, a fourth grade teacher in her second year at Blaine Elementary called the program "eye-opening."
Driscoll is one of four new teachers at Blaine participating in the program. After the first class, she said, "All of us went back and changed something in the classroom for the better."
"What I am learning will last my whole career, and every child I teach will benefit from it," she added.
ACORN Education Coordinator Debbie Russell Brown says that ACORN is working with the School District to incorporate elements of the pilot program into the District’s new teacher induction program.
For more information, contact ACORN at 215-765-0042.