Professional Development

The School Development Program designs and delivers customized professional development experiences for pre-K to 12 educators at the school and district levels. We synthesize and combine the latest research with our experiences as professional educators to provide participants with practical, effective, and research-based strategies that they can use immediately.

How we deliver content is as important as the knowledge we share. We model teamwork and effective instructional strategies. Our workshops and other professional development activities are interactive, engaging, and fun, and meet national standards. To view feedback from participants in the SDP's professional development workshop, click here.

For schools and districts implementing the SDP model (also referred to as the Comer Process), we recommend a scope and sequence of professional development experiences that include Comer 101 and 102 academies.

Continuing Education Units: The Comer School Development Program provides Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for professional development programs.

We also offer the following on-site, customized professional development workshops:

Building a Positive and Collaborative School and Classroom Climate and Culture

After nearly 45 years of experience working in schools, the SDP has identified the key skills that are necessary to build a positive, collaborative school and classroom climate and culture that supports the holistic development of children and adolescents so that they are prepared to be successful in school and in life. Using the Comer Process guiding principles of consensus decision making, collaboration, and no-fault problem-solving, creativity and staff morale and collegiality flourish.

Topics addressed:

  • Essential Skills for Professional Learning Communities/Peer Collaboration
  • Relationships based on mutual respect and shared responsibility
  • Effective Communications Skills
  • No-Fault Problem Solving: Focus on solutions using a variety of problem-solving models (e.g., de Bono’s Hats, SWOT)
  • Team building strategies
  • Maximum effectiveness of team meetings: Using roles, guiding principles, and time management

Who should attend: Administrators, instructional/curriculum coaches, classroom and resource teachers, school teams (e.g., leadership, grade-level, data, student support)

Comer in the Classroom: Applying Child and Adolescent Development in the Classroom

Through Comer in the Classroom principles and practices, teachers and their students modify their own behavior according to the Comer guiding principles of consensus, collaboration, and no-faulty problem solving. They come to understand and report on their own growth and development in terms of the Six Developmental Pathways: physical, social, cognitive, language, ethical, and psychological.

Topics addressed:

  • Ways in which the components of the Comer Process (e.g., the three guiding principles) can be integrated into classroom practices
  • Positive relationships as the foundation for effective classroom practices
  • Integrating the six developmental pathways into lesson plans
  • Applying the standards of Comer in the Classroom (e.g., having high expectations, teaching from a challenging and rigorous curriculum, knowing your students) to one’s own classroom context
  • Cooperative Learning

 Who should attend: Classroom and resource teachers, administrators, and instructional/curriculum coaches.

Understanding and Managing Student Behavior From a Developmental Perspective

The SDP’s approach to classroom management focuses on applying knowledge of the developmental and learning sciences and the Comer Process guiding principles to create a positive classroom community. The workshops blend the latest research in child and adolescent development and neuroscience with strategies from practitioners whose classrooms exemplify the core elements of the Comer Process. The workshops provide participants with opportunities for self-reflection and peer collaboration.

Topics addressed:

  • Child and Adolescent Development and Neuroscience: Primary, elementary,middle, and high school
  • Communication Skills: Giving students feedback, word choices and positive language, active listening
  • No-fault problem solving
  • Planning for predictable developmental behaviors
  • Classroom organization

Who Should Attend: Classroom teachers, assistant principals, deans, behavior specialists, instructional coaches, counselors, and others whose responsibilities include addressing student behavior.

Effective Strategies for Engaging Parents, Families, and Communities

In 1968 when Dr. James P. Comer and his colleagues at the Yale Child Study Center began working in the two lowest performing elementary schools in New Haven, they identified the home-school connection as essential for student success in school and in life.

As their first teachers, parents and families have an important and continuing role in their children’s education and development. The SDP has a proven track record of providing parents/families and educators with strategies for forging strong and effective home-school partnership. By strengthening the connections between and among educators, parents, families and communities, academic achievement and overall student development are more likely.

Topics addressed:

  • Effective Communications
  • Surefire Ways to Get Parents and Families Through the Schoolhouse Door
  • Strategies for Turning Parents into Partners

Who should attend: Title I directors, parent coordinators, home-school liaisons, principals, PTO/PTA leaders, and community outreach workers 

Effective instructional strategies

We have created two professional development programs that are designed to improve instruction, foster collaboration, and tap the knowledge, skills, and experiences of veteran and novice teachers. They are Teachers Helping Teachers (THT) and the Balanced Curriculum Process (BC).

Teachers Helping Teachers (THT) is designed to help teachers learn and use best teaching practices to meet the learning needs of students. The program integrates principles of child and adolescent development, adult learning theory, and collaborative practices to explore six basic instructional models. Teachers develop their knowledge and skills to increase the effectiveness of their teaching through dialogue with their peers and professional reflection practices. This program includes a series of customized professional development sessions, professional practice, and peer support activities.

The customized Balanced Curriculum Process (BC) helps teachers and administrators collaboratively and systematically examine key curriculum factors that impact instruction including:

  • National, state, and local standards;
  • State and local assessments; and 
  • Textbooks and other instructional resources.

The process uses the Six Developmental Pathways and the SDP’s three guiding principles as a framework for decision making about what is important to teach and when it should be taught. This customized process is designed to increase student achievement and improve school performance.

The School Development Program teacher development sessions are eligible for Title I professional development funds.

For more information about the Comer School Development Program's professional development offerings, please email Camille Cooper at

Camille Cooper on the Balanced Curriculum Process

Camille Cooper on the Balanced Curriculum Process

Camille Cooper on the Balanced Curriculum Process