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3 keys to successful professional development

4 min read


Providing professional development is a fun but challenging job in the world of education. First of all, professional development has been done poorly for so long that it has a bad connotation. Secondly, teachers are very smart and very busy so they are not fooled easily, and they don’t like to have their time wasted.

Over the summer I read a blog post from Kyle Pace about professional development where he talked about three values that made professional development successful: Choice, value and support. As I enter my second year as an e-learning coach where I provide PD on technology integration I have been thinking of ways I can provide those three things to my teachers.

I have created a “Coach’s Menu” through Google Forms in order to provide my teachers with choice and value. I will be using the Concerned Based Adoption Model for support.

Coach’s Menu

A Coach’s Menu is a really simple idea that I got from a literacy coach in my district. The form gives the teachers a space to tell me when is the best time for me to visit them for a coaching session. They have a list of options to choose from that are a combination of district initiatives and personal interest. There is also a space for them to write in a request as well as request a video demo.

When a teacher submits a Coach’s Menu to me, I e-mail them back with dates to choose from based on their entry. I also send them material to review and allow them to cancel our meeting if what I send them is sufficient. If a topic is “trending,” then I’ll set a larger PD session that anyone can attend. Here is a copy of the Coach’s Menu that I use, and here is a video about how I made my Coach’s Menu.

Concerned-Based Adoption Model

The Concerned-Based Adoption Model is a framework for professional development that helps the person providing PD support the areas of concern for those who are implementing the new idea in their classrooms. I presented on this topic at the flipped classroom conference in Chicago this past June.

CBAM can be broken down into three categories.

  1. Innovation configuration: Simply put, a rubric of innovation. This is developed by teachers where they decide what is ideal, acceptable and unacceptable when it comes to implementing a new idea or practice.
  2. Level of use: As teachers implement new ideas, I will follow up and discuss with them what level of use they are at with the new idea or practice. Then I will base my support on that conversation.
  3. Stages of concern: Everyone has concerns, especially if the new idea is a district initiative that is of the teacher’s control. By finding out a teacher’s stages of concern I can help address her needs.

I am excited about providing my teachers with the choice, value, and support they need this school year. I have already had about a third of the staff fill out the Coach’s Menu during the first week back at school.

What do you think? What do you like or dislike about the Coach’s Menu? What items would you add or remove from the menu? What are some other ways beyond CBAM that we can provide support for teachers?

Brett Clark (@Mr_Brett_Clark) is an e-learning coach in southern Indiana. His interests include the flipped classroom, creating a student-centered classroom, technology integration and professional development. He is a conference presenter and recently presented at the Flipped Conference in Chicago. Learn more about Clark at his website.