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Use data, tech for stronger PD programs

4 min read


SmartBlog on Education will highlight summer learning and enrichment for educators during June. In this post, Kenneth Wilson, director of staff development and teacher evaluation for a South Carolina district, shares his district’s model for summer PD.

With a new school year quickly approaching, it’s my job as director of Staff Development and Teacher Evaluation to make sure our staff has the opportunity to continue their professional development throughout the summer months. Our goal is to provide meaningful PD that a large number of staff members find valuable. One of the best ways to ensure that these offerings are effective and successful is to use data and technology to inform your planning strategy. Here are three ways we put data and technology to good use when building our PD programs.

Survey data

Surveys are a great way to get feedback from your staff and learn about the success of your previous PD offerings. Each year we send out a Staff Development Needs survey that asks questions like: What’s the most ideal time of year for PD; what are the most important topics or concepts; and how would you like to see PD delivered? We also send out an Exit Survey that an attendee may be required to take after completing a PD session. In this survey, we ask questions like: Did you take what you learned in the PD session and implement it in your classroom; were the concepts presented relevant to your job; did you benefit from attending this session; would you recommend this training to others?

This data provides invaluable insight into how we, as a district, can improve our professional development offerings. For example, we found that a lot of our staff prefers to have professional learning offerings during the summer. As a result the district now has a very robust summer PD program. We implemented an Instructional Technology Institute over the summer months where we showcase important technology and demonstrate how to use technology to improve teaching and student learning outcomes. This offering is available to our educators and to anyone who is interested in attending.

Registration data

Another data point we use to inform PD planning is registration data. We can see information like which offerings filled up quickly, which have a wait list or which were not of high interest, all within our management system. Registration data allows us to gauge interest in each course or session offered, allowing us to make strategic adjustments to our offerings more efficiently. It’s important to us that our educators have access to sessions that they see as valuable.

If a session is not well attended, we view that as a missed opportunity for professional growth. For example, if our summer curriculum writing sessions fill up very quickly and have a long wait-list, we can plan ahead for the following summer to ensure that every registrant can attend that type of session. Likewise, if an offering received little or no registrants, we can decide if that session should be retired and replaced with a more popular offering that better meets the needs of our staff.

Recertification data

As you all know, re-certification data is another important element to consider when planning PD. It’s imperative to provide opportunities that allow educators to meet their re-certification requirements. For example, our high-school teachers are required to complete the Jason Foundation suicide training in order to be re-certified. Our teachers also need a certain amount of technology PD hours.

Our system automatically tracks individual teacher PD credits and allows us to see if an educator has earned the 120 points required for renewal. Additionally, it provides the necessary documentation from which to enter renewal points on the State Department System. My team can log in to see a list of every PD course a teacher has completed on their profile.

While there’s no formula for perfect PD planning, we can use data and technology to make more informed decisions and ultimately offer our staff more relevant and invaluable professional learning opportunities.

Kenneth Wilson is the director of Staff Development and Teacher Evaluation at Dorchester County School District Two in Summerville, S.C. As a former educator, principal and director of high schools and career technology, he is dedicated to improving the learning experiences of educators and students of all socio-economic backgrounds. His district uses TeacherMatch Thrive as their PD Management Solution Write to: [email protected]

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