Rethinking Professional Development

As a coach, one aspect of my job is thinking about developing professional development for teachers. I actually really love this. It's a unique opportunity to really dig into what adult learners need and want.

Last year school year, I was thinking about how I could have an impact on professional development in my district. There were a few things I was thinking about:

1.) I really wanted to have a chance to go deeper with some teachers and was thinking about a cohort model. In my own teaching journey, I have been impacted greatly by a few experiences, many of them when I felt connected to a community of learners.

2.) As an instructional coach in a 1:1 district, helping teachers be innovative with technology and integrate purposeful ed tech is part of my job.

3.) My district has high turn-over. I began researching some of the aspects that go into people being satisfied with their jobs. While I couldn't impact their pay, I could work on some of the other ideas such as a "work that challenges you, a sense of progress, and belonging" that could hopefully have a positive impact on teacher retention (which I know would benefit our students).

4.)  Finally, I reflected back on my own teaching and remember the third year being special. The first two years were filled with uncertainty and survival. However, in my third year I felt more confident and also ready to try new things. I hypothesized that maybe there is something to this third year and decided that those teachers would be my focus.

5.) I wanted to develop the professional development WITH the teachers. I wanted to ask them what they wanted. I also wanted to learn beside them and have plenty of time for discussion. I wanted this to be our project.

So, with these ideas in mind, I came up with an idea of THE THIRD YEAR TEACHER PROJECT.

With three main goals:
-grow these teachers' practice by giving them PD on topics of their interest
-encourage innovation and trying new things
-build a sense of community among these teachers across the district (8 buildings)

I started by getting a list of the over 50 teachers that were going to be in their third year of teaching the next school year. I decided on a structure of 1 PD meeting (our PD director agreed they could earn continuing education credit) a month and 1 social outing a month. It would be casual enough that teachers would feel comfortable being involved without feeling it was a large commitment. They could come to some or all of the events.

I reached out to the group and sent them a brief survey to gauge interest. About 25 teachers said they were interested. This was great, but also scary! I had to make this be good! I decided to plan more over the summer but wanted to reach out to the interested teachers to let them know how much I was looking forward to our project. I visited each teacher and delivered this note with this little treat:

More in future posts about how the Third Year Teacher Project is going this year!


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