During my graduate studies, I examined best practices for designing professional learning. In my blog post Righting the Ship I identify some common problems with current professional development (PD) and provide some ideas on how to design effective PD. Schools frequently choose topics based on current educational fads, select way too many initiatives to try and implement in a single school year, and then fail to support our teachers as they work to meet the desired goal. Schools and districts need to conduct needs assessments and select topics that have empirical evidence to back them up as true “best practices” (Schmoker, 2015, p. 2). School leaders should also reduce the number of initiatives they choose and direct all their PD time, personnel, and teacher collaboration to mastering those practices. This way teachers are not overwhelmed and schools can make significant progress towards their goals. After the training, coaches can support teachers as they practice, tinker, and improve their craft. Studies show that it takes an average of 20 practice attempts before a teacher can master a new skill (Strauss, 2014, p. 1). Therefore, mastery resulting from repeated practice and ongoing guidance should be the goal of our professional learning (Schmoker, 2015, p. 3).

Another topic I studied during my coursework was how we can give teachers agency and choice in their professional learning. Classrooms around the nation are very diverse- in curriculums, supplies, and student’s needs. So naturally, teachers should participate in continuing ed on the topics that connect with their classrooms. On top of that, teachers’ have a huge range of backgrounds, training, and experiences, and need personalized training to fit where they are professionally. Therefore, we should give teachers choice in their PD and make sure it is relevant to them. Technology Coaches should be cognizant of people’s backgrounds and needs and work to design professional learning that is accessible and ideally provides multiple pathways for different learning styles. A couple of ways we can personalize PD for teachers by using a flipped-PD model, allowing teachers to pursue micro-credentials, or designing choice boards or cafe menus that give teachers agency. These forms of PD connect with various adult learning theories such as Self-Directed Learning, Experiential Learning, and Knowles’s beliefs on adult learning. Learn more in my blog, Revamping Adult Learning.

To read more about my work with this standard, you can use the drop-down menu above or the buttons below to navigate to a specific performance indicator.

Works Cited

ISTE Standards for Coaches (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches

Schmoker, Mike. (2015, Oct. 20th). It’s Time to Restructure Teacher Professional Development. Education Week. https://www.edweek.org/leadership/opinion-its-time-to-restructure-teacher-professional-development/2015/10 

Strauss, Valerie. (2014, March 1). Why Most Professional Development For Teachers is Useless. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2014/03/01/why-most-professional-development-for-teachers-is-useless/