How to structure and facilitate professional development in 2021?

Exploring the structure of professional development and the role of technology platforms and tools

What is the essential purpose of professional development? How should professional development be structured? How do current technology platforms and tools impact or influence professional development? What are some current examples of structuring professional development? Let us examine some examples:

What teachers do in a Professional Learning Community – example from 2007

In 2007, this article by Ed Tobia was published about the Professional Teaching and Learning Cycle. This model focuses on working within teams or teacher groups (also known as Professional Learning Communities) to collaborate on the teaching process and student learning process with clear steps or phases. This particular model centralizes upon providing training for the specific phrases to help teachers/staff develop the essential skills in analyzing these third data points.

An assumption this model makes is the collaborative ability and the culture of the building/district to be conducive to conversations on student learning and teaching practices. As noted in the two boxes at the bottom of the graphic, a strong culture of collaboration and a trusting climate is essential for this structure to work effectively and efficiently. Another downside is that this structure may take a year or more for staff to be fully trained in analyzing the data and reflecting on its significance.

Model of Professional Development for Personalized Learning Practices – Example from 2013

In 2013, Hanover Research compiled this report on k-12 learning practices of personalized learning professional development based upon the emerging evidence that personalized learning is best for students and also for adult learners. Here are the key findings:

  • Best practices for personalized learning professional development closely resemble best practices for personalized learning for students.
  • Professional development in personalized learning environments should be collaborative and take place in a learning community.
  • Professional development should focus on both the content that students need to know and how they need to learn it.
  • Schools and school districts should provide time and space for adequate professional development.
  • Professional development programs should use data, student feedback, and careful analysis to make targeted adjustments in teaching strategies for effectiveness.

With an emphasis on learner-centered, learner-driven education, the Department of Education in Maine developed this model to guide a cycle of professional development. This cyclic model begins with clear professional developmental skills in the grey laying a common foundation and the continuation of ongoing components highlighted in yellow.

This model is similar to the Professional Teaching and Learning cycle in that the work relies upon strong collaborative teams but attempts to allow for personalized training and resources with the addition and inclusion of strong teacher leaders to model, plan, and lead.

New Era of Professional Development – Examples of How Teachers are Learning 2014

Embracing the concept of learning as a spiraled or cyclical process, in 2014 EdSurge compiled this resource of technology tools “that support how teachers engage with colleagues; that help teachers learn or find support for implementing fresh strategies and approaches; and that measure how that learning impacts practice in the classroom.” This model developed by EdSurge creators emphasizes the learning cycle for personalized professional development focusing on four key states: engage, learn, support, and measure.

“Where in this cycle teachers begin and how they
will proceed will vary. Some will get more out of
one stage than another. That’s fine, too. Teachers will discover the tools that work best for
them—and when those tools are most useful.
It’s all about giving teachers a more personalized
professional development experience.”

So how do professionals and educators structure professional development in 2021?

Here are three considerations for designing and structuring professional development based upon the previous examples:

  • Relevant & Purposeful
  • Adaptive & Flexible
  • Collaborative & Communal

How is professional development being structured in your district? What aspect of the format really helped the learning cycle or process? Please post below!

“Starting with vision allows professional development work to be messy. Learning isn’t linear, and it isn’t easy. It’s strongest when it involves challenge, is collaborative, and is supported and celebrated along the way. Teachers are going to create strong learning environments for their students when they are involved in similar environments themselves–and it’s up to you to support them…”


Resources & References

21st Century Skills Framework for Developing Leadership PDF by OSPI

“A Qualitative Case Study Analysis for a Potential Model for K-12 Professional Development using Virtual Learning Environments” Doctoral Study from 2011

“Computational Thinking.”

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer Coaching : Unlocking the Power of Collaboration. Corwin.

Foltos, L. (2018). Coaching Roles. Peer-Ed, Mill Creek.

“How teachers are learning: Professional development remix.” EdSurge, 2014. Viewed Jan 2021.

“How teachers are learning: Professional development remix – an in-depth report on the tools advancing teacher training.” EdSurge, 2014. Viewed Jan 2021.

“It’s Time to Restructure Teacher Professional Development” by Mike Schmoker Education Week, 2015 LINK

ISTE Standards for Coaches | ISTE. (n.d.). Nov 2020

Lipton, L., Wellman, B. M., & Humbard, C. (2003). Mentoring matters: A practical guide to learning-focused relationships. Sherman, CT: MiraVia, LCC.

National Education Technology Plan: Introduction and Learning sections

“Professional development for personalized learning practices.” Hanover Research, 2013.

Tobia, Ed. “The Professional Teaching and Learning Cycle: Implementing a Standards-Based Approach to Professional Development.” SEDL Letter Volume XIX, Number 1, April 2007, Developing a Staff of Learners.

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