Advice to help you personalize professional learning this year

One of the best parts about embarking on a new school year is the ability to start fresh. It’s equivalent to grabbing that first blank piece of paper (or more likely opening a new Word doc), to begin an important project. A new year brings the promise of changing last year’s misfires, tweaking your successes, and creating new traditions.

If you are involved in planning the professional learning for your district, you know change is good. The old method of professional development (PD), where content was dictated to teachers, has proven ineffective. The new model of professional learning (PL), where teachers are active participants, holds promise. But how exactly can you transform your district’s PL?

Three experts in the field offered plenty of advice in a recent virtual event, Personalizing Your Professional Development. Here are the three top points they made:

  • The four key components of “teacher-centric PL,” according to Duncan Young of Scholastic, are a shared vision for great teaching, robust content, progress monitoring and adaptation, and teacher choice and voice. The emergence of digital tools, blended models of teaching, mobile devices, and constant connectivity for both teachers and students is driving this change, adds Young.
  • Jason Flom, an ASCD faculty member, agrees with Young. District leaders need to offer learning that is teacher or site specific and learner focused, he says. And no matter how good your new model is, don’t forget to debrief, evaluate, and revise frequently.
  • “As leaders, we need to be modeling differentiated PL,” says Ann Cunningham-Morris, ASCD’s director of professional learning. To make sure your new learning programs meet the mark, leaders must ensure it includes awareness of needs, skill development, implementation, and eventually the institutionalization of practices.

All this advice and more can be heard in the virtual event. You can review the session on demand anytime.