Professional Development Center

Spring 2019 Courses

The Professional Development Center (PDC) is the inservice agent of the School of Education and Human Development (SEHD) of the University of Southern Maine. Its mission is to provide sustained, high-quality professional development that enables K-12 educators and human resource professionals to continue learning throughout their careers.

Gorham campus aerial photo

Most of the courses below are offered as part of our cohort plans (although usually open to any interested students as space allows). Contact us today to design a cohort for your district and:

  • work alongside your district / school colleagues toward a certificate or higher degree 
  • take courses by USM instructors at your own school sites 
  • tailor your USM experience to what the students in YOUR district need


Cohort Courses

EDU 514 Improving Teaching in Content Areas through Literacy

This content area literacy course focuses on helping students develop strategies for strategic, independent learning. All students, including those with diverse abilities and culturally diverse backgrounds, will come to understand that learning is an active, constructive process. Therefore, teachers of all subjects and grade levels will demonstrate knowledge and application of sound reading and writing strategies to enhance learning in the classroom. These strategies will create readiness for learning, use reading and writing to promote content understanding, and provide a means for assessing what has been learned. Major emphasis is given to comprehension instruction, vocabulary acquisition, and metacognition.

Class notes: Class is meeting in Oxford Hills (email the PDC for permission to attend)

EDU 530 Proficiency-Based Learning: Planning & Assessment I

Proficiency-Based Planning and Assessment is set up as a two-semester course, designed for the practicing teacher.  It begins with an exploration of current research-based, proficiency-driven practices in the field as a means for enrolled teachers to examine their own classroom practices. Participants will consider the defining features of proficiency including, but not limited to, the distinction between habits of work and academic achievement, using backwards design to develop curriculum and assessment tools rooted in district standards, and developing daily practices that intentionally encourage students to take responsibility for their learning.

Class notes: Class is meeting in Cape Elizabeth (email the PDC for permission to attend)

EDU 561 Aspects of the English Language

This is a practical course for the prospective or continuing ESL teacher which will examine the various linguistic elements of the English language and their relevance to the teaching process of English as a Second or Other Language. We will be focusing on analyzing the grammatical and phonological aspects of the English language as well as looking at morphology and lexis, semantics, and such social aspects of the language as register and speech variation. Primary emphasis will be placed on a better understanding of English through class discussion, oral presentations, and practical application for teaching in the ESL classroom.

Class notes: Class is for Portland/Westbrook cohort students (email the PDC for permission to attend)

EDU 659 Special Education Law for School Leaders

This course acquaints prospective school leaders at the building and district level with the general principles of special education law as found in the interpretation of constitutional and statuary provisions by the higher courts. Laws governing pupils, teaching personnel, administrators and boards of education will be stressed.

Class notes: Class is meeting at Noble Middle School (email the PDC for permission to attend)

EDU 671 Organizational Behavior

This course will explore the interactions between individuals and the systems in which they live and work. Organizational behavior is the utilization of theory and methods of academic disciplines for understanding and influencing behavior in people in organizations. Individual and group level of analysis are included in covering such topics as diversity, perception, communication, motivation, power, group development and performance, innovation, quality, individual effectiveness and development, leadership, and intergroup behavior.

Class notes: Class is for Leaders for Tomorrow's Schools cohort students and meets in Scarborough (email the PDC for permission to attend)

EDU 679 Supervision and Evaluation of Teaching

This is an introductory course focused on evaluating and supervising teaching performance. As the teaching students may supervise ranges from preschool through adult education in a variety of subject areas, this course offers a framework of supervisory concepts and asks students to apply these concepts to the settings and clientele they would likely encounter. The major product of this course is a platform for articulating one's beliefs and espoused practices for evaluating and supervising teaching in a setting specified by the student.

Class notes: Class is meeting in South Paris (email the PDC for permission to attend)

PDS 555 Special Education Mentorship

PDS 555 is a semester-long two-part online course taken in conjunction with a yearlong supervised school- or agency-based mentorship for conditionally certified teachers participating in the Maine Alternative Certification and Mentoring program (MACM). Topics and activities for the course are determined by the MACM program. Participants enroll for the course each semester.

Class notes: This course is open to teachers in the Maine Alternative Certification and Mentoring (MACM) program ONLY. It is not for transitionally certified OR new conditionally certified teachers who are also enrolled in a pre-service or certificate program and are enrolled in an internship/student teaching semester. FMI, please contact Valerie Smith at or visit the MACM site: