School Based Professional Development

I am currently working with two state departments of education and one county wide school district that are focused on designing and implementing building based professional development plans. In each case we are using a backwards design approach starting with desired student achievement.

After identifying specific student achievement goals, designers focus on what students would need to do in order to get the student achievement being sought. This is new to most of the teams with whom I’ve worked. This “what do we need students to do” is the best starting point for designers to consider what teachers need to do. I am suggesting that when teachers are focused on “what students need to do” to reach the achievement goal, they are set to plan instruction. Too often teachers are only focused on the achievement outcome not the precursor student work process.

Having identified the needed teacher behaviors, designers can now plan professional development trainings, peer coaching activities, collaborative staff conversations and professional learning community agendas that would support the desired teacher performance. School leaders are now in a position to determine how their work supports the entire process.

Here is a questioning sequence I recently use to facilitate the above process.

-What is the student achievement goal(s) driving your professional development effort?

-What changes in student experiences/behaviors are precursors to those achievement goals?

-What teacher changes are needed to create the desired student behaviors?

-What will initiate and support those teacher changes? Professional Development/ Coaching/PLC activities/ Leadership

-What resources from Central Office Professional Development would support your efforts?

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