Professional Development Lab School
McWhirter Professional Development Laboratory School Learning, Teaching and Leading
In 2001, The University of Houston-Clear Lake and the Clear Creek Independent School
District (CCISD) formed a partnership to create and maintain a professional development
laboratory school (PDLS) in the district. McWhirter Professional Development Laboratory
School in Webster, Texas opened at the beginning of the 2002 - 2003 school year. The
mission of the PDLS is to provide exemplary professional development based upon sound
educational research and practice throughout the school community which results in
improved student achievement.
Role of the College of Education
The College of Education acts on behalf of the University in the partnership. UHCL
faculty members provide instructional leadership, conduct research, and engage in
professional development. Each semester, several SOE courses are taught at the PDLS
in a designated UHCL classroom. In addition, Intern I and Intern II students are placed
at McWhirter PDLS each semester.
Differentiated Leadership Model
Several initiatives have been established at McWhirter PDLS as a result of the partnership.
One of these initiatives is a differentiated leadership model. The Steering Committee
was formed at the beginning of the partnership to design the vision, mission and goals
of the PDLS. The Steering Committee was very involved in the initial design and implementation
of the PDLS.
Then a Leadership Team was created. This team includes administrators as well as people
who fill a number of positions that were designed specifically for the PDLS. These
positions are the district Instructional Supervisor, the university Instructional
Supervisor, Lead Teachers in mathematics, science, literacy, bilingual education and
for the two way immersion program, and Instructional Coaches for each grade level.
Using a collaborative model, the Leadership Team focuses on making decisions that
will best meet the needs of the student body.
Professional Development Embedded during the School Day
Another partnership initiative relates to professional development. Rather than utilizing
a one shot, consultant-based approach to professional development, a model that allows
teachers and staff to engage in professional development during the day was developed.
Based on needs assessments, different groups of teachers meet with a Lead Teacher
at 2:30 while their students are being instructed by another staff member. This model
allows for ongoing professional development based on actual identified needs.
Two Way Immersion
The Estrellas Two Way Immersion (TWI ) program is the third partnership initiative.
The first two kindergarten classes began in the 2004-2005 school year with the addition
of two more classes each school year. Each class consists of 50% English speakers
and 50% Spanish speakers. The goals of the Estrellas program are for students to develop
grade level bilingualism and bilteracy, as well as to develop biculturalism and to
achieve at a high academic level.