Creating Professional Development that Hopefully Doesn’t Stink

As my CEP 817 class continues to work through the Stanford Design model, we have gone through several steps so far.  This week we are in the Ideate stage which in layman’s terms means that I have been brainstorming up a storm trying to find a possible solution that I can prototype and test for my problem of practice.  There have already been a couple of posts about this (here and here).

Step 1:  Brainstorm

In the first step of this portion of the Ideate stage, I sat down over dinner with a friend of mine (Sarah Huff) who is an Instructional Facilitator at a school in Durham who is also responsible for doing Professional Development.  We set aside thirty minutes to talk through ideas for the best ways to deliver Professional Development in general (and Technology PD specifically).

Here is the written version of what we came up with:

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We came up with a lot of the same ideas that I have shared previously.  However, there were new ideas that popped up:

  • Will this be mandated
  • Potentially focus on the influencers and get them to do the PD
  • Use testimonies during PD from staff members that others respect
  • Be selective; teachers get overwhelmed so don’t do too much at once
  • Trust teachers to do the why on their own
  • Have pre and post assessments
  • Do with adults what you want them to do with students (ie. movement, group discussion, remember short attention spans)
  • Potentially put them in groups to create a cohort
  • Have teachers choose a path to focus on for the year that is related to their Professional Development Plan
  • Have examples of lesson plans before tech integration and after, so teachers can see the difference
  • Admin needs to set minimum tech expectation
  • Tinge all PD with technology rather than focus just on technology

Step 2:  Incubate

After doing this last Sunday night, I entered Phase two which was another incubation stage where I would revisit these ideas and try to reform them or collide them or in some way see something that I missed before.

In truth, I don’t think I did a particularly good job of this.  Part of that is because I had kind of been doing this since I came up with my problem of practice, which I wasn’t really supposed to do. I was supposed to focus on the steps but my mind kept racing ahead to ideas all along.  The other part is that I am terrible at journaling.  I basically wrote this list over the course of the week of trying to do this:


I did have a bit of a breakthrough as I thought more about the idea of creating cohorts.  It is still a somewhat malformed idea, but I think it might be the key to a PD plan that works.  If the groups could be formed in such a way that each person’s strengths would overlap someone else’s weaknesses and the people actually like and respect each other, I think it would work.  I don’t quite have figured out how to do that particular feat, however.

Step 3:  Reflect

While it is not necessarily always advisable to be brutally honest, this seems like a time that it would apply.  I do not like brainstorming with other people.  It kind of annoys me.  With that said, the best idea that I have came from the brainstorm with Sarah.  I think the key to making this work is going to be the cohorts.  It is the glue that will make the rest of the plan work (or conversely cause it to implode causing a black hole).

This whole two-week process that I squeezed into three when I realized Sunday that I hadn’t done the incubation part of this has been legitimately beneficial.  I learned quite a bit about my thought processes, as well as the importance of getting input from others on my ideas.

I sadly don’t have a fully formed idea yet.  At the moment, this is what I have.  The plan needs to have the following elements:

  • There must be choice for the teachers in terms of what they want to learn about
  • There have to be multiple delivery methods and multiple ways to show understanding
  • Teachers need to be held responsible to use what they learn rather than listen, nod, and then go about their business
  • Teachers will be responsible for keeping up with their contact hours via a Google Form
  • Administration needs to have an active role in evaluating teacher use of the information from PD
  • Every technology PD needs to be wrapped with Pedagogy PD
  • Fellow teachers need to be utilized in teaching sessions on PD days
  • Teachers need to have a cohort that will add to their collaborative experience and to hold one another accountable to follow through with what is learned

This feels like a tall order to create, but I am confident that with a little help from the admin team and input from the teachers we can create a plan that will meet the needs of all teachers while meeting the school goals of technology integration and solid pedagogical usage.


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