Lindsey Lee, a second grade teacher at Mann Elementary, leads a class during the last week of school in 2024. (Photo by Joe Hadsall)

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Teachers will get more training time tuned to their interests over the upcoming school year, according to a plan approved by the Springfield Board of Education.

The board approved during its regular meeting on May 21 a general guide for professional development that runs through 2028. During the next school year, the plan includes extra training for faculty members on how to manage students' behavior in the classroom, planning for specific lessons and the introduction of modeled classrooms — a training exercise where teachers learn instruction techniques from other teachers. 

Presented by Crystal Magers, SPS executive director of academics, the plan was developed by an advisory committee with 17 teachers, three principals, representatives from the Springfield National Education Association and Missouri State Teachers Association and others.

The plan details how SPS will spend a state-required 1% of its budget allocation. As of April, that amount was $593,674, but that number is expected to increase by the close of the fiscal year. The Springfield Board of Education approved the development plan with a 7-0 vote, including the votes of two board members who said they have been critical of similar plans from previous years.

Inside the 7-0 SPS Board of Education vote

Board member Maryam Mohammadkhani pointed out a high rate of participation from teachers in developing the plan.

“You can’t really do great unless you have the participation,” Mohammadkhani said. “I don’t know how many times you said it, that it was in response to what teachers want. I thought that was powerful because you coupled that with participation, and that’s the key to being effective.”

Board member Kelly Byrne said he had voted against the plan during the previous two years, but a connection between this year’s plan and Springfield Public Schools' strategic plan was impressive to him.

“I’ve voted against this and was a little critical of those versions, and I realize they were a relic attached to an older strategic plan,” Byrne said. “I think this is a good example of why the strategic plan was so important.”

Teachers teach other teachers in modeled classrooms

According to information presented to board members last week, Magers said the plan will create modeled classrooms that will allow other teachers to observe other teachers' instruction techniques. The observation serves as a way for teachers, regardless of what subjects they teach, to learn what works and what doesn't work when it comes to classroom control.

Magers said 39 teachers applied to be part of the modeled classroom program. Sessions would be held after school and would allow teachers to see a lesson from a student’s perspective.

The modeled classrooms are one of several things teachers requested as the advisory committee put together the plan, Magers said.

“This was really driven by the feedback we received from teachers,” Magers said. “It is aligned with the data we received, and allows for collaboration with peers.”

In answering a question from board member Shurita Thomas-Tate, Magers said Springfield Public Schools hopes to expand the program in the future so that every unit of instruction could be preceded by a classroom model session.

“We probably won’t meet that goal because we don’t have enough (participating) teachers,” Magers said. “But that’s our long-term goal. If you were a first-grade teacher and you are getting ready to teach unit 2, you would be immersed with a teacher who is modeling teaching that lesson, and then as a collaborative team you would dive in and analyze what standards that lesson is teaching.”

Training shouldn't be straining

Other training sessions are being moved to times more optimal for teachers, and are spread out more throughout the year. Magers said the idea is to offer “microbursts” of learning, so that teachers can learn a technique that they can take back to their own classroom almost immediately.

Springfield Public Schools' plan for regulating student behavior will also get some reinforcement. Teachers will get supplemental instruction about how to teach Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports strategies at a tier 1, school-wide level. Under PBIS, “tier 1” refers to the entire school population, while tiers 2 and 3 are used for students who fail to abide by general behavior expectations.

Magers said SPS will also bring back John Hannigan, an expert on PBIS, for another session in September. Two teachers and one other staff member from each school will attend his session, and take back those lessons to their buildings. Hannigan held a session for Springfield teachers in December.

Connected to SPS' strategic plan

In her presentation, Magers outlined the professional development plan's ties directly into goals specified in Springfield Public Schools' five-year strategic plan, approved in late 2022.

Specifically, it deals with four objectives in the Success Ready Students priority of the district’s plan.

“You’ll notice that it is really grounded in supporting learning, and an increase in student achievement,” Magers said. “That’s a huge driver of the plan.”

The committee used results from a survey of teachers covering professional learning needs. Magers said they got a participation rate of 94%, far exceeding benchmarks as high as 61% over the three prior years.

That teacher participation stood out to board members.

“I thought one of the best things was to have a class within the classroom, and have another teacher in there,” said board member Susan Provance, a retired teacher herself. “I think you have learned so much more from someone you think of as a teammate, as opposed to a principal saying they have to check this over here.”

Joe Hadsall

Joe Hadsall is the education reporter for the Hauxeda. Hadsall has more than two decades of experience reporting in the Ozarks with the Joplin Globe, Christian County Headliner News and 417 Magazine. Contact him at (417) 837-3671 or More by Joe Hadsall