Home Grown PD: Don't Wait for your District

In schools today budgets are tight.  Professional development dollars are shrinking.  In my case, our district just instituted four furlough days; all of them faculty professional development days. Luckily we like to plan ahead. In the beginning of the school year we voted to divide one of our "Flex" PD days into several smaller sessions. This means we took one of the 3 professional development days front-loaded in the beginning of the school year and agreed to make up the hours over the course of the school year. This works for our faculty. After all, in the beginning of the school year teachers are focused on setting up curriculum and classrooms. Dispersing one of these days allows us to target topics or issues that might arise after the school year begins.

When we began talking about what type of PD we needed it was different across the board- different grade levels and departments had different needs.  Our solution was to develop our own PD Learning Series where teachers led other teachers in targeted professional development.  Teachers had the opportunity to volunteer to present on any topic of their choice.  Below is the process we used.

Survey Says

So, what to offer. I began by developing a general survey asking the basics:

      • what days and times worked best for attendance
      •  is there any specific instructional topic/subject/area of interest teachers wanted to see, and (in my opinion the most important question) 
      • was anyone interested and willing to present 

After looking through the results, I had a better sense of the "guts". The responses led into a new survey (which admittedly was long but worth it) to break down specifics: what the interest level was for specific topics and how the teachers wanted to be involved. All of the topics featured were ones listed in the original survey.

From here, I tallied each category and broke it down according to interest.  Not pretty, but it gave me a great sense of what the interest level was.  After this I categorized each topic according to those that said they were "very interested" or "interested" (numbers represent %).  I typed this up for admin and created a separate list of topics that people volunteered to present:

Learning Series Options

Each teacher that offered to present typed a short description and chose times (we offered morning sessions from 7:30 am to 8:15 am and afternoon sessions from 3:45 pm to 4:30 pm). A Google Form was created and remains a "live" document, with teachers continuing to sign up for PD (I email the faculty the week prior informing them of what is available. I also email participants the day before the PD as a reminder). 

So far we've had great success with this process.  Teachers have the opportunity to choose a number of different topics to meet their needs.  In many instances we have teachers signing up for multiple sessions, well beyond their required two.  This process has also allowed some of our teachers that don't present to have an audience that is familiar to them as they build that skill.  

February concludes the first round (3 months).  We are now in the process of adding new sessions for March through May. I'd recommend this model for anyone interested in developing their own learning series!


Popular posts from this blog

Water the Flowers, Not the Rocks: Tips from 10 Years of Instructional Coaching