SIMPLIFY: School/District Professional Development

This post was originally published by Matt Drewette-Card on September 2, 2015 at

For far too long, my school district (AOS #94) has looked at professional development (PD) in very uncoordinated terms.  This is not uncommon, either.  PD is often looked at as workshop days or early releases, professional learning community (PLC) times, or conferences.  However, PD happens all the time.  Common planning time; faculty meetings; Twitter chats, and more.  There are hundreds of PD opportunities and options available to educators all of the time, but it is imperative that a district have and adopt a PD plan.  This DOES NOT mean simply planning themes for the workshop days, but rather have explicit and meaningful goals for all educators to demonstrate proficiency of at the end of the school year.  This is the obvious intention of any evaluation system that is focused on educator development, but PD should be explicit and have measurable outcomes.  If PD is designed to improve instructional effectiveness and affect student achievement, then our PD system’s design and expectations should mirror that of an effective and affective classroom.  Check out this information from the Marzano Center at Learning Sciences:

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Notice the two areas that show the highest percentage in student achievement: Tracking Student Progress and Using Scoring Scales and Setting Goals/Objectives.  PD should be designed using these same principles.  If your district PD is hodgepodge (to put it delicately), then bring this up to leadership.  What are the goals/objectives?  How will we track progress?  Further, how does our PD EXPLICITY align to implementing and measuring these strategies in the classroom?

Here’s how we are doing this in AOS #94:

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We have established three major goals for PD for 2015-2016: RIGOR, PROFICIENCY SCALES, and FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT.  Every/Any PD that our educational staff (Administrators, Teachers, Ed Techs, etc.) need to EXPLICITLY align to these goals.  This is a non-negotiable.  Further, at the end of the year, all educators should be able to demonstrate proficiency in the nine expectations that are aligned to the three goals.  This system of proficiency is the exact same that we are placing on our students.  It’s a “what’s good for the gander” situation.

Here’s our set plan for workshop days and early releases:

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Further, our other teams and work that may not be directly related to PD should also align to these goals.  For example, here’s our plan for our school-based and district-wide data teams:

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Alignment of PD doesn’t have to be difficult.  It just needs to be explicit and coordinated.  It needs to bleed into everything we do, because everything we do in education is, in one way or the other, improving us as educators.  Setting goals/objectives and tracking progress of those explicit goals can only suffice in increase achievement of those goals.

How is your district’s PD organization and effectiveness?  Leave me a comment and let’s talk about it!

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