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When Planning PD, Consider Staff Input

When Planning PD, Consider Staff Input

Consider involving teachers in the planning process as much as possible to honor the experience, expertise, and knowledge your staff has.

Most of you have already started planning professional development for August. You’ve identified your priorities for next year by using student data and school trends. We were so excited to see that so many districts participated in our PD Strategic Plan Initiative, and we hope to expand on that even further next year. As you plan for adults, we know that creating engaging PD that fits all learners’ needs can be tough, so we found a few resources and tips and tricks to support your work! 

Education Week produced a report, Blind Spots in Teacher Professional Development, that highlights ways in which we can respect where each teacher is in his/her current practice. When you are planning professional development, considering the following: 

  • Differentiate for Experience: Before requiring all teachers to attend PD on a certain topic, schools should pre-assess their staff—just as teachers would their students, said McCrann. Then, facilitators could group teachers based on their ability level. Those who were already proficient could lead groups or move on to a new skill.
  • Maintain Consistent Focus: Franckowiak, suggests asking teachers: "What are you already doing, and how might that be informed by this new lens or this new framework?" Line up new initiatives with the school’s vision or priorities and draw parallels to prior trainings. 
  • Follow-Up: Embed a cycle of implementation, reflection and feedback. Schedule this just as you would your state assessments or evaluations for teachers so you don’t forget to follow-up on that important summer professional development. 

Consider involving teachers in the planning process as much as possible to honor the experience, expertise and knowledge your staff has. Education Week notes that some school leaders are offering teachers options that give them ownership over their own PD—from in-house professional learning communities to un-conferences, in which teachers set the PD agenda and learn from each other. Some schools are also exploring creative ways to respond to teacher feedback about how they like to learn. 

At Big Spring High School, staff member Nicole Donato said, "When I first got here, there was no teacher choice at all," said Donato. Teachers were required to meet with her twice a month during their planning periods. Everyone with the same planning period was in the same PD group, with no separation by subject area or grade level. 

Realizing that teachers were disengaged, Donato worked with the school's principal to develop a new system with what she calls "best practice groups." Each semester, teachers choose to work on one area of the school's instructional framework—literacy strategies, for example, or scaffolding and differentiation. They also pick the format for their twice-monthly professional learning. Cross-curricular planning, one-on-one coaching and group lesson study are some of the options. With best practice groups, PD is more "real time," said Powell. "Sessions are focused on problems she's actually facing in her classroom at that time, and she can take back concrete solutions to test out. The work doesn't feel divorced from her day-to-day," she said.

To ensure your PD is checking all the boxes for impactful learning with teacher voice and choice, use our NextThought learning management system to conduct required PD. All state-mandated training is now online, and teachers can participate at any time! This frees up the time you do have together to collaborate and work to meet school-wide goals. For more information on our NextThought platform, please visit

And, administrators, we know you are thinking about training requirements for yourselves as you prepare for the next school year as well. State-required, Tulsa Model New Administrator Evaluator Training and the Tulsa Model Recertification Training are free to all of our member schools and will review the Tulsa Model and background, the rubric, the observation and evaluation process and calibrating using rubric indicators. You can sign-up for an initial training HERE. For recertification training, you can access all your training materials and assessment online through NextThought here. You do not need to attend an in-person training for recertification. 

Remember: OPSRC has so many options this summer and during the school year to fit your professional learning focus! Please check our current events or book on-site professional development for your school here!

We can’t wait to continue to teach and learn alongside you this summer! 

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