Professional Development and Program Evaluation Toolbox

ISTE Standard 4: Professional Development and Program Evaluation

Performance Indicator B: Design, develop, and implement technology rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment.

Triggering Question

What are the essentials of a technology rich professional development learning program?


As I reach my final blog post for my EDTC 6106 class on professional development and program evaluation I find myself reflecting on how eager I was when I first started my master’s program in digital education leadership.  At that time, I was so excited to start learning about what it meant to be an effective coach, to learn “tricks” and “tips” that would make me excel as a school leader.  I definitely did fill my “coaching toolbox” but I am now struck by the realization that what I’m really eager for is to gain experience as a coach, to learn through trials, reflections, successes, and failures.  I feel ready to take on the role as a coach and instructional leader in my district and am confident that I feel this way because of the foundation this program has laid for me.  So, for this final blog post I wanted to synthesize my learning relating to how to create a technology rich professional learning program to complete a more comprehensive bank of “musts” as an instructional leader.  My resolution, outlined below in my “12 “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for Creating a Technology Rich Professional Learning Program” was developed by studying some excellent resources, included in the “references” section, as well as through the discussions with and feedback from my professors and classmates in my master’s cohort. My professional development toolbox is filling up and I’m eager to try it out!

Future Inquiries: Shoutouts to Awesome Resources

I have come across a few awesome resource this semester that I wanted to reflect on but haven’t found a place to do so.  Since this post is a synthesis of my learning I choose to include some commentary on these resources below in hopes that I will revisit them in the future.

Five Models of Teacher-Centered Professional Development – I LOVE this resource and want to try out each of the models for PD, each are underutilized and could be excellent tips for collaborative learning.

53 Ways to Check for Understanding – this document offers some excellent ideas for formative assessments, a vital, and sadly often missing, component of professional development.

Future Ready Schools: Empowering Educators through Professional Learning toolkit – I’m so glad that my classmate Liz turned me onto this resource!  This will be the first place I look for valuable information on planning, implementing, and evaluating professional development.

Hate PD? Try Voluntary Piloting – this is a post from Cult of Pedagogy, my favorite educational blog, and discusses piloting as an alternative to traditional professional development–I’d love to explore piloting further!

How to Plan Outstanding Tech. PD for Your Teachers – this is another post from Cult of Pedagogy and is almost exactly what I would have liked my blog post to be, had it not already been done.  In this post, blogger Jennifer Gonzalez discusses several tips and strategies for making excellent professional development.

Questionnaire Design Tip Sheet – This resource, provided by Harvard University and suggested by one of my professors, has some great ideas for creating effective survey questions.  As feedback is so vital in creating powerful professional development, I would like to spend more time looking at question design in the future.

References

Burns, M. (2014, November 26). Five Models of Teacher-Centered Professional Development. Retrieved March 9, 2017, from http://www.globalpartnership.org/blog/five-models-teacher-centered-professional-development

Hertz, M. B. (2011, June 16). The Dos and Don’ts of Tech Integration PD. Retrieved March 9, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/technology-integration-teacher-development-mary-beth-hertz

Piper, J. (n.d.). 5 Don’ts for Teacher Professional Development. Retrieved March 8, 2017, from http://www.teachhub.com/5-donts-teacher-professional-development

Vilson, J. (2012, November 07). Three Dos and Don’ts of Transformative Teacher Leadership. Retrieved March 9, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/dos-and-donts-teacher-leadership-jose-vilson

Collaborative Learning Strategies for Professional Development

Overview

After many conversations with educators and administrators, collaborations with my digital education leadership master’s cohort, a few months of pouring over professional development research, and reflections on my own experiences I can confidently say that most educator professional development opportunities are lacking in one way or another.  A few repeated sentiments include: most PD is just not relevant to my classroom, or, I know it’s going to be a waste of my time, or, it’s just filled with a bunch of top-down jargon, how is it best for students?  This makes me sad.  Professional development should be an opportunity to observe, reflect on, and apply best practices in teaching. Educators should leave a PD session empowered, not deflated. So, how can we make professional development more inspiring and engaging?

To answer this, I began by taking a deeper look at a few of the common issues with professional development.  I also looked at ISTE coach standard four indicator “B” which states that coaches must, “Design, develop, and implement technology rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment” (2016).  

After understanding some of the the issues and standards, I had a framework to begin unpacking my triggering question on this topic: What collaborative learning strategies help create effective professional development opportunities?

What’s the Problem?

Collaborative Learning Strategies for Professional Development

In exploring great teaching strategies I relied a bit on my own experiences and a lot on two excellent resources: The Big List of Class Discussion Strategies from the blog Cult of Pedagogy and PBS’s Teaching Strategies Resources menu. I sifted through these resources and choose ones that most closely addressed the issues outlined above.  I made an effort to limit the number of strategies that I shared to a few that I have tried personally, as a teacher or as a learner.  With that said, I highly recommend checking out these two sites and seeing what more they have to offer!

Resources

Bishop, D., Lumpe, A., Henrikson, R., & Crane, C. (2016). Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State: Project Evaluation Report. Retrieved February 9, 2017, from http://www.k12.wa.us/CurriculumInstruct/WA-TPL/pubdocs/2016-WA-TPL-Evaluation-Report.pdf

Gonzalez, J. (2015, October 15). The Big List of Class Discussion Strategies. Retrieved February 9, 2017, from https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/speaking-listening-techniques/

Moersch, C. (2011). Digital Age Best Practices: Teaching and Learning Refocused. Retrieved February 9, 2017, from http://digitalis.nwp.org/sites/default/files/files/94/Digital%20Age%20Best%20Practices.pdf

PBS Learning Media (n.d.). Teaching Strategies: Resources for Adult Educators. Retrieved February 9, 2017, from http://kcts9.pbslearningmedia.org/collection/ketae/

Differentiating Professional Development

Those in the profession of education are all too familiar with buzzwords, those bits of jargon that often come and go as topics of conversation and professional development.  While these words can often feel a bit exhausting, one that has seemed to stick, and for good reason, is “differentiation”.  Since I started studying the pedagogy of teaching, differentiation has been at the core of most of my learning .  Educators are tasked with understanding how to modify the content, process, and product of instruction to meet the needs of individual learners (Carlson).  If we understand that this is a fundamental component of effective teaching, it is safe to say that instruction should be differentiated for all learners, regardless of age level, experience, or background.  Therefore, effective professional development for teachers must be differentiated so that it is valuable, effective, and efficient for everyone.  

This is no easy task.  In a classroom, a teacher may have around 25-30 students that they see every day as they teach them one, or a few, subjects.  In this scenario, differentiating instruction is often an ongoing challenge.  Contrarily, opportunities for professional development are much less frequent and, depending on the school, there could be 50-100 (or more!) educators who all teach different subject areas and grade levels.  How can professional development be molded to meet the diverse needs of educators?

What’s Wrong With Professional Development As It Is?

Finding a comprehensive list of tips on differentiating professional development was a bit of a struggle, but it was easy to find a ton of commentary on what currently isn’t working in professional development opportunities.  One of the best resources, the Center for Public Education’s “Teaching the Teacher’s: Effective Professional Development in an Era of High Stakes Accountability” findings report, offered a clear idea of why most professional development is ineffective.  They looked at the types of professional development offered to teachers over the course of a year.  They found the following:

This information is concerning because, “most development happens in a workshop-style model which research shows has little to no impact on student learning or teacher practice” (Darling-Hammond et al., 2009).  Workshops, the report suggests, are ineffective because, in contrast, professional development programs that impacted student achievement were lengthy and intensive, but workshops are often only over the course of a day or two.  Workshops are not ongoing and there is rarely any follow-up.  Additionally, workshops assume that the issue teachers face is a knowledge gap and once they learn a few tips they will be much improved.  In reality, the struggle is in implementing instruction.  So, while a workshop may help educators gather resources, they must then have the opportunity to observe and practice good teaching in action (Gulamhussein, 2013).  This report goes on to offer some excellent tips for creating effective professional development.  While I highly suggest anyone in the education profession to check out this report, its focus is not directly on differentiation. In what follows, I use this reports tips for effective professional development, along with a few other resources, to provide an idea of how to differentiate professional development.

Differentiating Professional Development

Future Inquiries

  1. I found this topic really interesting, but as it’s one I’ve only just begun exploring, my resources were mostly introductory.  I would like to find more resources that get a bit deeper into differentiating professional development.
  2. Most of the information I found suggests that professional development be differentiated in the same ways we differentiate learning for K-12 students.  This makes sense, but are there other resources to consider when teachers are the learners?

Professional Development and Project Evaluation Mind Map

I created the following Coggle Mind Map based on my reading of Chapter 2: Evaluating and Assessing Professional Development from Sally Zepeda’s book Professional Development: What Works.  I will be using this learning throughout the quarter as I continue to look at what makes professional development valuable, effective, and efficient.

Resources

Carlson, A. M. (n.d.). What is Differentiated Instruction? Retrieved January 12, 2017, from http://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-differentiated-instruction-examples-definition-activities.html

Gulamhussein, A. (n.d.). Teaching the Teachers. Retrieved January 12, 2017, from http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Staffingstudents/Teaching-the-Teachers-Effective-Professional-Development-in-an-Era-of-High-Stakes-Accountability/Teaching-the-Teachers-Full-Report.pdf

Guskey, T., & Suk Yoon, K. (2009, March). What Works in Professional Development? Retrieved January 12, 2017, from http://www.k12.wa.us/Compensation/pubdocs/Guskey2009whatworks.pdf

Project Evaluation Report. (n.d.). Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State, 1-87. Retrieved January 11, 2017, from http://www.k12.wa.us/CurriculumInstruct/WA-TPL/pubdocs/2016-WA-TPL-Evaluation-Report.pdf

Zepeda, S. J. (2012). Professional Development: What Works. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education.

Zdonek, P. (2016, January 15). Why Don’t We Differentiate Professional Development? Retrieved January 12, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/why-dont-we-differentiate-pd-pauline-zdonek