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Professional Growth

5 Tips for Looking Ahead to Next Year’s Professional Development Program

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At various times throughout the year, it’s helpful to reflect as central office professional learning leaders and in teams with your coaches, specialists, principals and teacher leaders. Why? Building on collective wisdom to engage in informed planning will give you a leg up for next year’s PD!
Reflection & Generation plays a vital role in ensuring sticky adult learning. You infuse your professional learning experiences with opportunities to think-pair-share, surface assumptions, SWOT and so on. You generate insights, plans and actions as individuals, pairs and teams and across our campuses.
What does that look like? Well, it’s more than just perceptions of what worked well and what didn’t. It’s about the questions that you ask about the data we have and how you can move professional learning outcomes into classroom practice.
With that context, here are 5 tips to reevaluate your PD program and questions you can ask for each one:

1. Analyze data to evaluate PD effectiveness throughout the year

Consider the evidence that you’ll want to have at this time next year and formulate your questions now.


  1. How do we know that professional learning impacted instructional practice and student learning?
  2. Which professional learning formats were most effective in advancing educator growth?
  3. Do we know if the expense for the kick-off guest speaker in September had greater impact than the weekly coaching activities?
  4. The ability to answer these questions is becoming increasingly vital with reduced resources and increased expectations around accountability.


2. Determine whether or not your efforts were aligned and coherent

Thinking about next year, consider which aspects of your professional learning system don’t align with your goals or are inconsistent with your aspirations for the culture of professional learning in your organization. Laser focus on those. 


  1. In what ways did our professional learning initiatives and job-embedded structures align with district, building, and personal goals this past year?
  2. To what extent was professional learning a meaningful and integrated component of the performance evaluation process, supporting focused ongoing learning and growth


3. Examine your job-embedded learning structures and support

Reflecting on the progress within job-embedded settings, examine the degree to which new learning was applied in practice. For next year, consider ways to tightly link job-embedded learning to student learning needs by employing backwards planning as teams start the year.  


  1. Were our pairs and teams empowered and informed enough to take collective responsibility for their learning? How do we know?
  2. Did the tracking methods used by learning teams, coaches and mentors give them the information they needed to implement cycles of continuous improvement?


4. Consider how you utilized technology tools to extend, enhance, and document

Think about any additional data points that you’ll want to capture over the coming year to evaluate effectiveness. Consider how you can refine your technology systems to track for compliance, implementation, and impact.  


  1. To what extent was online or blended learning a part of professional learning in our system over the past year?


5. Benchmark your professional learning program to the prior year

Seek out the pioneers among your faculty. Set up a shared document for people to capture their reflections on innovation throughout the year. Which paraprofessional attended an EdCamp? Which principal is using Twitter as a professional learning tool? Collect their stories as a jumping off point for innovation for next year.  


  1. Are we dropping what is not effective to embrace promising new ideas?
  2. What risks did we take in our thinking and implementation of professional learning, and what did we learn?

Learn more about implementing a comprehensive, individualized professional development program

Recommended Resources:

Effective Professional Learning Strategies (That Actually Work): The national landscape of professional development in K-12, best practices for an effective professional development program, resources for getting started, and more.
[Webinar] Professional Growth Retains Educators: Learn how to deploy a year-round PG and retention plan to address every educator’s unique needs.
[Playbook] Designing High-Quality Professional Development Programs: A play-by-play of what high-quality professional learning looks like, and how to plan and implement it at your district.