Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Thoughts about teacher led professional development.

Today we wrapped up two days of high quality professional learning.  Last year, I organized a group of teachers to take a hard look at our professional development practices.  I felt that our PD was all over the place and had little thought or direction.  I have had some good and bad PD throughout the years (More bad than good).  As an administrator I have organized my fair share of bad PD for teachers.  We vowed this year to never allow that to happen again.  We met several times, and had a full day work session over the summer. We meticulously planned our two days of learning.

Rather than bringing high priced presenters into our school.  We used our experts in our buildings and spent time researching best practices.  We placed our focus on the teacher. Its the teacher that has the largest impact on student achievement.  Using an idea I took from Jim Knight, we developed everything around a target.  Our target has three prongs, 1)Instruction, 2)Engagement, and 3)Assessment.  Everything we prepared was aligned and did not deviate from the target.  Our goal is to stay consistent as we move forward.  

We want PD to: Individualize, provide follow up, stay on target, differentiate, and provide reflection opportunities. 

We wanted small group sessions so we broke our staff into three random groups.  We made sure that the groups had various members from the elementary to the high school.  This allowed us to have more intimate discussions about the topic.  We also wanted to provide follow up, because we felt that too often we have PD that never enters the classroom.  One way we worked around that was by developing a document called, "Teacher Takeaways."  Each teacher was expected to take at least one method from each of the five teacher-led PD sessions and use it in their classroom.  We have the luxury of having four early release times throughout the year for PD.  We will use these as an extension of the two full days of PD to share evidence of use. We want follow up! 

I was thoroughly impressed with the quality of presentations that were created by the teachers on the PD team.  Teachers were active participants and I felt that they enjoyed the days.  I heard many positive comments about the changes we have made.  The true test of whether these two days of PD were quality or not will come on September 11th during our early out.  Teachers will be expected to share evidence of use. We will find out if any of these new methods entered their classroom.  It has been a lot of work, but a much needed change for our district.  

Admin need to realize that the people in your building can provide high quality PD, and you don't always have to hire the expensive presenters for credibility.  Our local experts can provide an equally high PD experience if done right.  



  1. I like this idea a lot Mike. Trying to do similar things with what I am doing now. Nice work!

  2. We want PD to: Individualize, provide follow up, stay on target, differentiate, and provide reflection opportunities.

    Sounds like good teaching to me. Great to model in PD session and not go back to the SIT and GET method if that is NOT what we want our teachers to do!