Easy and flexible access to valuable professional development resources is one of the main reasons educators are turning to online professional learning communities. PBS TeacherLine, like the DEN, offers online courses and other resources for busy educators.

Greg Mingo, principal at Lester Elementary School in Florence, S.C., encouraged his teachers to enroll in courses from PBS TeacherLine, and he decided to show his support for his teachers by taking the same courses.

PBS TeacherLine gives educators access to online professional development though facilitated online courses, collaborative learning communities, and internet-based resources.

Mingo said PBS TeacherLine was a contributing factor to the subsequent rise in reading achievement in the elementary school, which is a Title I school.

The first course Mingo and his staff completed was “Teaching Reading Across the Content Areas.” Mingo said he already believed in the benefits of online learning but was impressed with the strong instructional content and format of TeacherLine courses.

“The courses are well-designed … and introduce a wide array of online resources to incorporate into instruction, as well as provide interaction with educators all across the country,” Mingo said.

Because he had the school’s teachers take courses together, they were able to meet in small groups to discuss what they had learned and enjoy the collaboration among colleagues. “It brought the staff closer together,” Mingo added.

In the 2005-06 school year, 15 teachers from Lester Elementary, which has 405 students in kindergarten through grade six, enrolled in PBS TeacherLine courses.

“The strategies have helped my students become stronger readers and decipher words more easily. They’ve become more confident in reading as well,” said Jessica Crowson, a first-grade teacher at Lester Elementary.