From Pre-Fab to Personalized: How Districts Are Retooling Professional Development
EdSurge
EdSurge

From Pre-Fab to Personalized: How Districts Are Retooling Professional Development

An in-depth look at how districts are making PD personal

Every learner is different. Nowhere is this as true as it is for teachers. Every teacher comes to the classroom with a different background, different set of skills and differences in how they learn best. Add to this complexity, the fact that every teacher has a different set of students each year, all with their distinct needs.

Teachers need individualized learning opportunities to an extreme degree.

They know this. Many pursue a variety of methods to individualize their own learning: They tweet out questions, share videos of their practice, join community conversations via sites like edWeb or tools such as Voxer. By contrast, the majority of districts who support teacher professional development are stuck in the past, using traditional models to providing teachers with one-size-fits-all PD.

Time for change. Teachers are demanding more choices. A few brave school and district leaders are trying to deliver, breaking the “pre-fab” style of PD for a more personal approach:

  • By pulling data from across the district to better recommend courses and resources for PD;
  • By offering teachers menus of choices for PD that is both in person and virtual;
  • By shifting from a PD that only counts time, to one that counts proficiency.

Over the past year, EdSurge has explored the work going on in districts, the tools they’re using and what it’s going to get personalized PD started. Here are the stories we’ve heard--and the tools that we’ve found..

If you’re a teacher, we’d like to hear what tools you want in your toolbox. If you’re a district leader, we’d love to hear what you’re doing to personalize your teachers’ learning. Drop a note or tweet about it: We’re all engaged in learning here! 

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PD Management and Delivery Cycle: 25 Tools

To evaluate PD Systems, we created a framework to capture the ways that professional learning is supported at the district level. It has five categories: Recruit and Retain, Manage, Teach, Instructional Support and Evaluate. These categories form a cycle that districts are constantly operating and maintaining. Teachers can be at many different stages within this cycle and sometimes are within multiple stages at one time. Some districts might choose one product to support the entire cycle, while others may choose a combination of products to support various professional learning needs. As districts look to technology to improve efficiency and increase capacity, our hope is that they will be able to find the right tools for the right purpose, whether it is a technology tool or not.

Each product falls into one or more parts of this cycle. The tables below are designed to help school leaders find the right products to provide the best support for teachers, while also illustrating how different products could be combined to cover a complete cycle of learning management and delivery.

Recruit and Retain

These systems support recruiting, hiring, tracking and managing qualifications or compensation, and most importantly, figuring out ways to build capacity amongst the staff districts already have. Often times, these systems are paired with Evaluation tools to help track and evaluate performance.

For Principals, District Leaders, HR Leaders, Applicants
An external website that helps districts create their own recruitment webpage, facilitate hiring online, track and rate applicants for smooth and collaborative hiring process
Recruit
For Principals, HR Leaders
A document tracker that allows principals and HR leaders to easily keep track of hiring documentation in one place, through the use of checklists with due dates and reminders for each step in the paperwork process
Recruit
For Principals, HR Leaders, Applicants
A tool that helps districts create a jobs board on their own recruitment homepage, with custom job applications, filtering and interview scheduling process for easy hiring with high volume of applicants
Recruit

Manage

These systems are the heartbeat of the professional learning world. They help manage content and learning plans. These systems enable districts to manage and track enrollment, create courses, and track credits and activities. For teachers, these systems empower them to assess needs, set goals, create learning plans and find the right resources to meet their needs. Often times, they are paired with Delivery tools or Evaluation tools that can help guide which content a teacher should use next.

For Teachers, Principals, District Leaders
A PD Management system that helps district leaders track their own resources, create learning paths for teachers to follow and chronicle who’s taken which courses, whether online or in person
Manage
For Teachers, Principals, District Leaders
A tracking tool for districts to track teacher’s PD activities from multiple sources, such as LMSs or PD delivery platforms, all in one place. Teachers can create PD plans and then track the hours they spend on their learning
Manage
For Students, Teachers, Principals, District Leaders
Content creation, management and assessment reporting tool that supports proficiency-based learning models
Manage
For Teachers, Principals, District Leaders, Edu Agencies
A course catalogue creation tool that allows education agencies to share their courses, and integrate their catalogue with districts to give teachers more content choices so teachers have more content to choose from
Recruit
Manage
For Teachers, Principals, District Leaders
PD flexible learning management tool that districts can use to track content, assess learning, track reflections and credits for both formal and informal learning activities
Recruit
Manage
For Teachers, Principals, District Leaders
Professional development and human resource tools for K-12 districts to build new skills and track data on professional growth
Recruit
Manage
Evaluate

Teach

These are systems that fall into our original PD Learning Cycle: Engage, Teach, Instructional Support, and Measure. They support learning directly and go beyond curated content libraries. These systems deliver courses, provide teachers with social engagement tools, and coaching or mentoring tools.

For Teachers, Principals, Coaches, District Leaders
A bank of videos, online courses, and educational resources that teachers can use to observe best practices and reflect on how to implement in their own classrooms
Manage
Teach
Support
For Teachers, Principals, Coaches, District Leaders
Collection of 50-hour courses, along side a platform where teachers can set goals, create a PD plan and connect with a community of their peers
Manage
Teach
Support
For Teachers
An eReading application that supports interactive learning experiences such as communicating with the author, uploading materials to the book’s community and connecting with fellow readers
Teach
For Principals
A video-based training that helps principals and coaches practice observing teachers via video so that they can develop consistant observation and evaluation techniques
Teach
For Teachers, Principals, Coaches, District Leaders
Private site created for schools or districts to share locally made videos, group teachers, and share commonly used resources online
Manage
Teach
For Teachers, Principals, District Leaders
Management system that provides a catalogue of courses including videos of best practices, communities of practice, tools for observation and evaluation, and talent management
Manage
Teach
Evaluate

Instructional Support

Instructional Support systems combine professional learning with tools that support teachers, immediate needs in the classroom, specifically around lesson planning and assessment data. These systems scaffold their work so that learning moments can be included. They are generally associated with Delivery tools.

For Teachers, District Leaders
Adaptive social network and online learning platform that tracks teacher behavior and makes recommendations for content and connections based on ongoing behavior
Teach
Support
For Teachers, Principals, Coaches, District Leaders
A PD management system that supports the observation process, learning plans and instructional resources
Manage
Support
Evaluate
For Teachers, Principals, District Leaders
Data collection and reporting tool that helps teachers create their own assessments or choose from a bank of assessments; it also helps them administer assessments and find scaffolded teaching resources related to the results
Support

Evaluate

While often associated with Manage or Recruit & Retain tools, Evaluate tools are used to support the process of evaluating or measuring a teacher’s practice. They support the observation process and multi-measurement evaluations.

For Teachers, Principals, District Leaders
Platform that helps teachers set goals and administrators track observation data. It also connects to auto recommendations and to third party resources
Manage
Evaluate
For Teachers, Principals, District Leaders
A set of tools that helps administrators create performance assessments, perform teacher evaluations and track teachers progress toward their goals
Manage
Evaluate
For Teachers, Principals, District Leaders
A platform for administrators to create custom observation templates, track teacher observations and create final evaluations including multiple forms of evidence
Evaluate
For Teachers, Principals, District Leaders
Administrator tool to schedule observations, track all the steps in the process and create final cumulative performance scores using various forms of data
Evaluate
For Teachers, Principals
A planning tool that helps administrators make annual observation plans, record observation results and report those results back teachers and the district
Evaluate
For Teachers, Principals, District Leaders
A platform where teachers can set goals and administrators can recommend resources to individuals or groups based on observation results or goals
Manage
Evaluate
For Teachers, Principals
Interface for managing data associated with classroom walkthroughs, observations and teacher performance evaluations, as well as a resource bank and source for coaching groups
Manage
Support
Evaluate