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Doing PDS: Stories and Strategies from Successful Clinically Rich Practice

reviewed by Akihiko Takahashi - November 30, 2018

coverTitle: Doing PDS: Stories and Strategies from Successful Clinically Rich Practice
Author(s): Keli Garas-York, Pixita del Prado Hill, Leslie K. Day, Kim Truesdell, & Susan Keller Mathers (Eds.)
Publisher: Information Age Publishing, Charlotte
ISBN: 1641130881, Pages: 192, Year: 2017
Search for book at Amazon.com

For years, researchers have been arguing the importance of professional development for teachers. In recent decades, this emphasis on professional development has shifted to include both pre-service and in-service teachers. Doing PDS: Stories and Strategies from Successful Clinically Rich Practice is a compilation of case studies and other resources, from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo’s Professional Development School (PDS) program. SUNY Buffalo State is remarkable in that it currently partners with over 45 schools in order to make them places where both students and teachers can learn. The university calls these partner schools Professional Development Schools (PDS).

Doing PDS is a useful guide for teachers, schools, and universities seeking to establish or expand their own professional development network. This book relates decades of experience in the successful implementation of PDS led by SUNY Buffalo State. The university’s PDS program began over 20 years ago with only a handful of schools, and has since grown to include schools around the world.

This PDS program acknowledges the importance of continued support for the professional development of teachers. In the foreword to Doing PDS, Wendy A. Paterson explains the origin of the PDS model as “first suggested by the Holmes partnerships in the early 1990s” (p. xiv). This model became a means to provide all the people in a school, such as master teachers, teacher candidates, students, parents, and affiliated college educators, with a way to learn from each other in a clinical setting. Working in real settings to solve immediate problems generates deeper understanding about teaching and learning. By giving teachers the opportunity to develop their professional skills at their own schools, they have the unique opportunity to directly collaborate to improve teaching and learning in their own classrooms by observing each other’s classes and discussing the critical issues that arise.

The first chapter by PDS co-director Leslie K. Day describes the process of creating SUNY Buffalo State’s successful PDS network. The bulk of the book is a collection of reports by the teachers and educators connected to various PDS projects. Each chapter describes the challenges the project members faced and how those challenges were addressed. These cases cover a wide and interesting range of topics, and detail a variety of creative collaborations and solutions.

For example, in Chapter Nine, “Creativity in the Cafeteria: A Pilot Study,” Laura Klenk describes how she and one of the teachers at her elementary PDS partner school are tackling serious behavior issues happening in the cafeteria as an action research project. It is a fine example of collaboration. Klenk shows how “action research projects are professionally rewarding for both school and college PDS partners” (p. 79). This project also reflects the importance of understanding how children think.

In Chapter Thirteen, “Low Cost/High Impact Path to Intercultural Competency Through International Professional Development Schools,” Nancy Chicola describes the importance of globalization as part of teacher candidate development. SUNY Buffalo State not only provides teacher candidates the opportunity to teach local school children who come from other countries, but also with the opportunity to study abroad at SUNY Buffalo State’s International Professional Development Schools (IPDS), the university’s international extension of their PDS program. The university currently partners with IPDS in Chile, Zambia, Italy, Germany, China, and the Dominican Republic. Chicola traces the development of these IPDS and highlights the program’s many benefits.

This book will also be of interest to educators in Japan and to those in countries with similar teacher education programs. SUNY Buffalo State’s implementation of Professional Development Schools is similar to the network of schools affiliated with Japanese universities. For example, Tokyo Gakugei University retains a network of 12 affiliate schools, including K-12 schools. The major missions of this network include nurturing pre-service student teachers, collaborating with university faculty to engage in education research, and providing professional development opportunities for in-service teachers. However, both the Japanese Ministry of Education and the local school districts are currently discouraging such programs because of the financial burden. However, the PDS model offered by SUNY Buffalo State is a network of public and charter schools not officially affiliated with the university. This model may be an ideal way for Japanese universities and similar education communities to maintain a network of schools while at the same time reducing costs, thus insuring the continued viability of their professional development programs.

The case study chapters in Doing PDS each end with a section titled “Lessons Learned,” which shares the wisdom attained from the case. The book itself closes with “Suggestions for Doing PDS,” in which co-directors Pixita del Prado Hill and Leslie K. Day share their expert analysis and advice. Contained therein are great suggestions for anyone who wishes to establish or expand their own professional development programs for teachers, no matter the size or location of their school.

Stigler and Hiebert argued that “schools must become the places where teachers, not just students, learn” (2009, p. 34). We must continue to learn from each other. Others have made clear that “improving professional learning for educators is a crucial step in transforming schools and improving academic achievement” (Wei, Darling-Hammond, Andree, Richardson, & Orphanos, 2009, p. ii). SUNY Buffalo State’s PDS program can be seen as proof of this. The case studies in Doing PDS demonstrate that making professional development a priority dramatically improves student learning both inside and outside of the classroom. The diversity of their programs, which include urban schools, rural schools, local schools, high-poverty schools, and schools in other countries, gives educators the experience that standardized guidelines simply cannot offer. Anyone interested in professional development for teachers should read this book.



Stigler, J., & Hiebert, J. (2009). Closing the teaching gap. Phi Delta Kappan, 91(03), 32–37.

Wei, R. C., Darling-Hammond, L., Andree, A., Richardson, N., & Orphanos, S. (2009). Professional learning in the learning profession: A status report on teacher development in the U.S. and abroad. Dallas, TX: National Staff Development Council.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: November 30, 2018
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22583, Date Accessed: 5/24/2022 6:24:42 PM

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About the Author
  • Akihiko Takahashi
    DePaul University
    E-mail Author
    AKIHIKO TAKAHASHI is an associate professor of elementary math education at DePaul University with a background in curriculum and instruction. His research interests include teacher professional development, mathematics teaching and learning, and curriculum design.
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