Confessions of a Digital Leader: Planning Personalized PD

As someone who is new to the role of planning an entire school district’s professional development plan, let me first start by saying that this is not as simple of a task as it sounds. It is a huge responsibility…one that cannot be orchestrated on a whim. Think of it like being a kid with the key to the candy store…only it’s not about you eating the candy but about everyone else. It’s not a free for all, but then again it can be.

A few months ago, I was handed feedback from within our district. For the most part, our teachers WANTED sustaining professional learning with choice…lots of choice. Experience reminds me that there also must be guidelines…and not because one person may learn more than they should but because whether we choose to admit it or not, there are those who will attempt less than they should. The real trick here is to make those guidelines based on empowerment and not compliance. That’s where the magic happens, right?

As a former classroom teacher, I take this part of my role with exceptional care as this is the ONE thing that can build or destroy a culture of growth. I’ve been a teacher forced to choose from an extremely select menu of “PD”…one without room to choose my own adventure. It was horrible.

I’ve also been one leading PD full of teachers who were there “just to get those hours in”. In many cases, those sessions still worked out because teachers walked away with something and wanted to learn more, even though they were there purely out of compliance. There were also those that could have been given magical golden nuggets during those sessions and it would not have made a difference at all. Compliance does that.

While I am charged with leading instructional technology too, our plan must offer much more than tech sessions as our classrooms are much more than technology. My job is to create a plan that in essence supports the learning of “the whole teacher”. This thinking is critical.

I started with talking to a few of my personal friends and mentors in the world of professional growth. All of them immediately offered me the skin from their bodies, with no hesitation. I gladly obliged.

Dear teachers of twitter, it is not as simple as saying “get on twitter and learn everything”. It may inspire that action, but a great plan must be more than that. We have to be mindful of this when communicating this message.

I bookmarked some great pieces…

Ben Wilkoff‘s two Edsurge articles (Thanks for the phone call btw Ben!)

Building the Basics of Personalized Learning (Part 1)

Building the Basics of Personalized Learning (Part 2)


The Future Ready District: Professional Learning Through Online Communities of Practice

Capture, Curate Share: Building a Personalized PD Culture

How Districts Get Personal: Retooling Professional Development

PD Is Not a 4-Letter Word: My Ignite From #ISTE14

Also…Everything that I have ever learned from Diana Laufenberg and Chris Lehmann. (Personal anecdotes void of links)

The Questions…

Qualitative and Quantitative thoughts…

  1. What are our district needs?
  2. Where do our teachers need to be?
  3. Where do our teachers want to be?
  4. What do our students need?
  5. How will we evaluate effectiveness?
  6. Percentage of compliance?
  7. Percentage of empowerment?
  8. Percentage of passion? (Shouldn’t this just be 100%?)

At the end of the day, our plan must be fueled by one fundamental thing…Learning. The key is in remembering who owns it.


Stay tuned!

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