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What matters in teacher professional development? « Kyle B. Pace

November 4, 2012

There’s been a lot of talk about Teacher PD lately, but maybe I’ve just been more tuned into it. I like your three points, Kyle. I will emphasize your three in my own words and add a couple elements as well.

Choice – You speak of choice in terms of workshops, webinars, and tutorials. What we have found over the last year is that teachers are often overwhelmed by the number of choices available to them. There are so many tools and ideas out there. They certainly need a filter – and that is one of the purposes of our project showcase. By sharing a showcase of projects with teachers, they become interested in the process/product and not the technology. In fact, our technology is almost completely absent until we’ve sat down with a teacher and selected a topic, project, or strand area to work on (communication, collaboration, creative media, presentation). These are the choices that we encourage our teachers to make during our small group workshop sessions. What are you and your students interested in? What topics are you studying? etc. What strand area interests you? This eliminates fear of technology, fear of not knowing where to begin, fear of technology failure…

Value – The value of PD comes in the personalization for each teacher. Our client teachers meet with us a minimum of 2 hours a month in a small group (typically 1:3). Next year in one of our schools, we are developing a model that includes both a face-to-face workshop time as well as scheduled classroom time (this is in addition to normal contact time requested by the teacher). The value of the FlippedPD process comes in the fact that the learning is personalized and meaningful. For FlippedPD, each teacher creates a personal learning plan that they work on throughout the year. With the help of a Technology Coach, they are supported and encouraged to meet that goal. They receive personalized resources (links, videos, network connections, etc). The value comes in the personal accomplishment of each teacher.

Support – Today, teachers need the support of a coach more than anything. This is one of the most vital components of successful PD. It is unfortunate that cutting technology integration/support/coach positions is so common these days. I like to compare teachers to a tight rope walker. They will not go our on the rope without a net. We are there to make sure they don’t fall. This is hard and exhausting work at times – but most coaching jobs are…

And my additions:

Time – teachers need time DURING THE SCHOOL DAY to play and collaborate, to think and explore. This has been the most critical component of our model. Together with building principals, we create a workshop schedule for the school year. Typically, each workshop day uses THREE rotating subs. These subs relieve three teachers two hours at a time for a total of 12 teachers each day. Teachers deserve this time. As mentioned in the ISTE whitepaper on effective coaching practice, PD needs to be embedded in the work day.

Flipped – There you have it. The last component of good PD is that it needs to be flipped. Instead of using PD time to introduce teachers to a new tool and generate excitement about its potential, we need to give teachers access to personalized online resources that can be viewed prior to their work time. These resources introduce technology tools and processes, as well as past projects and provide teachers with real examples of how the tools can be used in the classroom. When teachers meet face-to-face with the Technology Integration Specialists (or PD facilitator), they are allowed to work and develop projects or plans of action that can be implemented with students, parents, or other teachers.

We are passionate about our work and have seen amazing results with the teachers in our district. is our site – we hope to share our work and resources. The #flippedpd site is new – more updates coming this summer.

Kristin Daniels


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