Professional Development

Professional Development

“The day was a great success here at TCS—I was so pleased with how it turned out. The feedback was overwhelming positive… perhaps the most indicative comment came from one of our elder statesmen who said it was ‘the best PD we have had at TCS in years’. High praise indeed.”
–M. Healy, Director of Teaching & Learning, Trinity College School, Port Hope, ON, Canada

In-Service Professional Development

Since 1984, Touchstones has trained tens of thousands of educators through intensive in-service workshops, preparing them for optimal Touchstones implementation in the classroom. Teachers who participate in Touchstones training:

  • Develop discussion leadership skills through practice.
  • Learn to use discussion for differentiated instruction.
  • Understand how Touchstones meets Common Core Standards and other learning objectives.
  • Acquire new classroom management strategies that foster cooperation with students.
  • Create classrooms characterized by active learning,community, and responsibility.

Workshops are tailored to the groups’ needs, and are offered as beginning, intermediate, or advanced levels depending on the group’s experience with Touchstones. Touchstones also offers workshop options that specifically address the International Baccalaureate and AVID communities. The fee for a one-day workshop (limited to 25 participants) is $3500 plus travel expenses for Touchstones staff.

EAR Teachers in the Touchstones Workshop Oct 2009

Teachers at Escola Americana in Recife, Brazil during an in-service Touchstones workshop


“The Touchstones Workshop on discussions that I attended at the San Joaquin County Office of Education was one of the most helpful workshops I have attended in my 31 years as an educator. Touchstones provides dynamic strategies that can be used by teachers regardless of the subject they teach and the level of the student they are addressing. I have been using Socratic questioning techniques throughout my career, and this is the most effective program for that approach that I have experienced.”
–Alan Hawkins, Staff Development & Head of IB, Tracy High School in San Joaquin Valley

Click here to see a list of schools and districts where Touchstones has run in-service professional development in recent years.

Open Enrollment Workshop

Touchstones also provides three levels of professional development through open-enrollment workshops, leading to a Touchstones Certification in Discussion Leadership. The registration fee for participants wishing to attend a Touchstones Open-Enrollment Workshop is $175. Touchstones also provides a number of scholarship seats for educators working in under-served communities and volunteers who will run free Touchstones programs with the public

Level I Workshop – Teachers new to Touchstones experience all elements of the Touchstones discussion method through direct practice and evaluation.
Level II Workshop – Educators with experience using Touchstones examine issues in dynamics and learn advanced strategies in discussion leadership.
Level III Workshop – Advanced Touchstones discussion leaders receive individualized coaching from Touchstones’ lead program developers and trainers.

A calendar of upcoming open-enrollment workshops may be found here.


Participants share work in pairs during the first discussion activity


On-Site Presentation

A presentation in your school introduces administrators, teachers, and curriculum coordinators to the Touchstones method and explains how discussion-based education improves classroom management and student achievement. In a practice discussion and evaluation, participants model the method and gain first-hand experience with this simple but revolutionary educational tool. Presentations run from 30 minutes to 3 hours, depending on the needs of the group. Every presentation ends with a question and answer period.

On-Site Classroom Support

With on-site support, one of our staff comes into the classroom to help you directly with implementing Touchstones with your class. Through modeling, discussion evaluation, and targeted feedback, you learn how to improve your approach and outcomes. You set the number of on-site support visits according to your budget, time, and needs.

Remote Classroom Support

Touchstones offers remote support by email, phone, and video-conferencing with the purchase of Touchstones materials or professional development services to ensure optimal classroom implementation.

Call 410-604-3309 or email today to schedule a workshop, a custom presentation at your school, or to arrange for a custom on-site support program in your classroom. Fees for presentations are based on length of presentation, staff time, and travel. Fees for custom on-site support programs are based on length and duration of support contracted.