Professional Development Schools (PDS)


The PDS Model: What’s in it for Teacher Candidates?

Participating in a PDS program gives you many opportunities to work closely with teachers and students. This extended immersion in the life and work of the school will help you gain greater understanding of diverse learners, develop strong classroom management skills and grow more confident as a teacher. Your attractiveness to employers will also increase. Administrators are actively seeking PDS graduates, since they perform like experienced teachers, not beginners, in the classroom.

As part of your PDS experience, you may take NIU education courses at the school site, join teachers in professional seminars and get involved in school committees.

Co-Teaching Definition

Two teachers (cooperating teacher and teacher candidate) working together with groups of students sharing the planning, organization, delivery and assessment of instruction as well as sharing the physical space.

Why Choose Co-Teaching?

  • Co-teachers not only work together, they reflect together to improve their instruction and strengthen their relationship.
  • NIU candidates say that being a part of the co-teacher program allowed them more in-classroom training and practice.
  • Graduates who spend a year co-teaching are desirable hires; employers view them as first-year teachers who already have a full year of teaching experience.
  • PDS cooperating teachers recognize that their experiences enhance their own professional skills.
  • PDS students benefit from the attention of two collaborating teachers in their classrooms.
  • Co-teachers gain extended professional development opportunities including three professional development workshops throughout the co-teaching experience.

College of Education Candidates: How Can You Participate in a PDS Program?

Elementary education students participate in year-long, co-teaching placements for the final year of their program. This approach, in which both the teacher candidate and the cooperating teacher are actively involved and engaged in all aspects of instruction, has been shown to improve the overall experience of students, teacher candidates and cooperating teachers.

To prepare all participants in this model, the university serves as trainers for the cooperating teachers as well as the teacher candidates. Co-teaching workshops take place at different times throughout the process. The first training is on the foundations of co-teaching. At this workshop the participants will learn about the seven strategies and other aspects of co-teaching. Students may also participate in a second and third workshop to bring the co-teaching pairs together in order to build a collaborative relationship. The pairs co-teaching workshop helps the pairs build a sense of trust with each other and learn about the learning styles and decision-making skills of each other. The final workshop is the Co-Planning workshop. At this workshop, the pairs learn more about each other’s tolerance levels and where they are at with the co-teaching strategies and how to incorporate more strategies into their day as they move toward the full student teaching semester.

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Candidates: How Can You Participate in a PDS Program?

The co-teaching program is a two semester experience that encompasses your third clinical and student teaching. If you are selected to participate in the co-teaching program, you will complete your third clinical during one semester and your student teaching placement will be with the same cooperating teacher in the following semester of your senior year.

Sophomores- Secondary Schools

Consider spending your student teaching semester in a PDS town. Plan your course load so that the semester before your spring student-teaching semester you will have half-day blocks of time available two or three days per week for co-teaching.

Juniors and Seniors- Secondary Schools
  1. Meet with your advisor to ensure that your schedule allows for co-teaching (half-day blocks of time during a fall 3rd clinical semester and residence in the PDS area.) Please indicate your interest in a co-teaching placement at this time.
  2. The Coordinator of Teacher Preparation will contact your discipline coordinator to confirm your qualifications for a co-teaching placement.

Please note: You are not guaranteed a co-teaching placement. Placement depends on a variety of things, including the availability of a suitable mentor to co-teach with you.

Star Tutoring

Students enrolled in ILAS 301 can work one-on-one with PDS School students. Students who are interested in this enhanced experience will tutor one-three hours per week and learn to assess student needs. You’ll gain valuable experience in a school setting while helping students to improve their performance.

PDS School Districts

School districts in the Northern Illinois region have determined that professional development schools are valuable for their students and their teachers.

Key benefits for the school districts partnering with NIU include the following:
  • Improve academic student achievement through excellent co-teaching
  • Increase opportunities and resources for differentiated instruction, tutoring and instructional supports
  • Implement best teaching practices with immediate feedback for all learners
  • Increase professional development for all teachers
  • Prepare teacher candidates who enter the workforce ready to meet the demands of teaching with experience as professionals
  • Collaborate between professionals in the field and at the university level
  • Infuse RtI, data-based decision making, and best practices at all levels of teaching and learning
  • Create processes that enhance our ability to monitor progress towards district and building goals

One of the most important benefits is the positive effect the PDS has on students. The PDS model provides the extra help needed to reach their potential, preparing them to contribute to our global society.

Cambridge Lakes Charter School
Kathleen Poole, Principal
900 Wester Blvd.
Pingree Grove, IL 60140

DeKalb CUSD 428
Richard Craven, Superintendent
901 S. 4th St.
DeKalb, IL 60115

Huntley Community School District 158
John Burkey, Superintendent
650 Academic Dr.
Algonquin, IL 60102

Kaneland CUSD 302
Todd Leden, Superintendent
47W326 Keslinger Rd.
Maple Park, IL 60151

St. Charles CUSD 303
Donald Schlomann, Superintendent
201 S. 7th St.
St. Charles, IL 60174

Sycamore CUSD 427
Kathy Countryman, Superintendent
245 W. Exchange St.
Sycamore, IL 60178

Contact Us

Jenny Parker, Ed.D.
Associate Vice Provost
University Office of Educator Licensure and Preparation