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All considerations for professional development (PD) should flow from the premise that staff development should model what you want to see in the classroom. We strive to offer our students engaging, relevant, and rigorous instruction that supports students who will, over time, take responsibility for their learning. PD should apply those same goals to training teachers, staff and administration.
I’ve seen PD from a variety of perspectives – as a 25-year teacher receiving staff development, as a teacher offering PD courses at our district teacher center, as a K-12 director and Assistant Superintendent planning PD, and as outside consultant / trainer. Viewed through those lenses, I’ve developed few questions for consideration by professional development planners.
Design and planning:
1. Did your teachers have a meaningful role in deciding what PD is being offered? (You’re in trouble if the training is merely based on a tip from someone who saw “this really cool presentation.”)
2. If it’s a school-wide inservice day, have you provided appropriate training for all faculty and staff? (“OMG! We forgot about the librarians! Do you think we can get away with putting them in with PE?)
3. Is there a clear alignment between how the session is promoted to teachers and what the trainer is prepared to deliver? (Before my session begins, I usually ask a few attendees what they expect. When no one has a clue, I’ve got work to do.)
4. Have you prioritized your PD objectives to bring focus to your initiatives? (It’s easy to turn people off with the perception of “just another reform du jour.”)
5. If you are implementing PLC’s or action teams, do the participants see their value? (Or do you have groups of “PD prisoners” who only see it as busy work?)
6. Do you offer appropriate training for all staff? (Don’t forget, the entire organization can support instruction.)
7. Have you considered internal expertise, before turning to outside trainers? (PD is about building capacity.)
8. Will the trainer be utilizing the strategies being advocated? (If not, at least modeling them.)
9. Do you differentiate PD by instructional method? (Or is that something you only expect teachers to do with their students?)
10. Will teachers leave with ideas they can immediately put to use? (Not everyone is fascinated by the implications of new brain research on student achievement.)
11. Will appropriate administrators be in attendance? (It sends a powerful message when they are.)
12. What is your plan for follow up to the training? (No drive-bys allowed!)
13. If you are offering technology training, will teachers have immediate access to the necessary equipment? (Use it, or lose it!)
14. Do you have a mechanism to gather and act on participant feedback (Learning is about experience and reflection.)
15. Have you clearly identified an instructional outcome you hope to see as a result of the training? (Or are you doing it, just because it’s in fashion?)
A high-functioning professional development program considers these questions and many more. The best programs are guided by a tacit “reciprocal accountability.” If administration is holding teachers accountable for student performance, then administration is accountable to engage teachers in the design and implementation of meaningful PD. Likewise, if teachers have an active role in shaping their professional learning environment, then administrators should expect to see the strategies utilized in the classroom, followed by an honest appraisal of what’s working.
I disagree with the notion that teaching is kind of innate “gift” that only some are born with. Teachers are nurtured with experience, training, and reflection.
If you’ve read this far, you might also like a few other posts:
Great to meet you… My name's Peter Pappas, from Rochester NY. I taught high school social studies for over 25 year, became a K-12 coordinator and then finished the last 5 years of my career as a assistant superintendent for instruction. Since then, I've been able to devote myself, full time, to expanding my role as a staff developer and consultant.
I've had the chance to work with districts across the country with a focus on literacy, technology, document-based instruction and student engagement. Staff development should model what we want to see in the classroom, so I bring an audience response system and we actually use the techniques I'm promoting!
Follow me on Twitter – hope you have a great conference!
Oh .. and … have you heard of any good sushi restaurants nearby? …..
Note: As of 4/26/09 the TwitterCloudExplorer seems to have disappeared. Here's a screen shot of what it looked like during the ASCD conference. Notice my Twitter name edteck was the 4th most Twittered word when I took the screen shot.
Technical Specs1. Hashtags are a community-driven convention for adding additional context and metadata to your tweets. They're like tags on Flickr, only added inline to your post. You create a hashtag simply by prefixing a word with a hash symbol: #hashtag. I sought out the relevant hashtags people are using for the ASCD conference. Note: It seems this year both #ASCD and #ASCD09 are being used. For more on hashtags2. I used a Twitter Search to look for people using the #ASCD OR #ASCD09 hashtags. Search results here.3. Then I sent out Tweets to people using either hashtag with a link back to this post. Hopefully their replies will follow.4. I'm a big fan of quantitative display of information, so I used one the many new Twitter visualization tools – Twitter Cloud Explorer to generate this embedded query. Note: As of 4/26/09 the TwitterCloudExplorer seems to have disappeared. There are many new Twitter visualizations coming along every day.
Please note that Prezi’s embed options have changed.
I updated this post on July 16, 2011.
Prezi is a great presentation software that replaces the lineal PowerPoint style with the ability to present text, videos and images in a unique zooming style. Here are samples of how I use Prezi in a variety of settings.
Here’s How to Embed
1. Open your online Prezi presentation and look for the Share tab (lower right in this screen shot.) Click share.
2. You will get the dialog box below. When you choose “</> Embed” tab the dialog box expands and reveal your embed settings. You may want to adjust the pixel size to fit into your blog columns. Copy and paste the html code into your blog.