What is Smart Professional Learning?
When you think of professional development in the K-12 setting, what comes to mind?
For those of us who have experienced it as a teacher or administrator, memories look like…
- Sitting in a room with your peers for a one-day “training” that has one or two actionable tips in an 8-hour day;
- Attending workshops on topics that might’ve been useful in your first year of teaching but not your fifteenth; or
- A feeling of borderline dread as you anticipate being introduced to yet another initiative to add to your already full plate.
The goal of PD is to propel teacher growth and student achievement in tandem, yet the research shows that PD hardly ever translates to improved practice in the classroom. The reason for this is pretty straightforward. We know that students learn differently. Thus, we understand the value of differentiating instruction to meet each student where they are. Why then have we not approached teacher growth with that same individualized attention?
As a former assistant superintendent and current public education consultant, I have long wrestled with the same challenges as other leaders do: How do we feasibly move away from the one-size-fits-all approach consisting of a variety of workshops, seminars, and online training to more relevant, individualized professional learning? And who has the time or resources to redesign the face of PD to make this happen?
What if you could have a way to provide exactly what every educator needs in less time using less money? In an environment that’s distinctly diverse – and one that is suffering immensely in the face of the “Great Resignation” – we can no longer afford to wait. It is time to have the power of Smart Professional Learning in the hands of administrators. We need to make learning matter not just for students but for teachers, paras, campus and district leaders, administrative assistants, and facilities and maintenance staff as well.
We need Smart Professional Learning.
Smart professional learning is the antithesis of the one-size-fits-all PD model. When done well, smart professional learning is:
- Qualitative and quantitative
- Aligned to competencies
Rather than requiring teachers to participate in PD that simply ticks a compliance box, smart professional learning meets each teacher where they are to differentiate the path toward growth and mastery. And it gives leaders the needed data and tools to save time and money using targeted decision-making.
It begins first and foremost by identifying the key competencies that are unique to and define your district. Rather than wasting money and time – arguably our most precious resource – on implementing PD programs that only add to initiative fatigue, having a defined set of competencies keeps things cohesive and simple. Music to an exhausted teacher’s ears!
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Just as we scaffold standards and differentiate activities for students, smart professional learning gives us the tools to scaffold competencies and differentiate support for teachers. It makes it easy for teachers to identify the classroom practices they feel confident in, pinpoint areas in which they’d like to improve, and utilize the relevant professional learning resources that meet their needs.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a crucial piece of this puzzle, the “smart” piece: documentation. As I like to say, if we don’t have data on it, it didn’t happen. We already utilize outcomes data to quantify student achievement! Leveraging a smart professional learning tool like eSuite to quantify educator growth is key in measuring, reporting, and celebrating the effectiveness of your efforts.
eSuite provides public schools with an all-in-one platform to help teachers master and implement research-based instructional best practices through four key apps:
- eGroweCoach: The comprehensive coaching platform that allows schools to seamlessly manage, organize, document, and implement evidence-based, job-embedded teacher coaching at scale
- mySmartCoach: The on-demand, personalized coaching system that adapts to the needs and learning style of each teacher, empowering districts to leverage the power of evidence-based instructional coaching without requiring additional coaching resources
- ePLC: A learning library that allows teachers to create, share, and find resources, tools, and lesson design templates on topics like instructional best practices, social-emotional learning, culturally sustaining pedagogy, and more
- impactConsole: Advanced professional learning analytics that aggregates teacher growth data and empowers education leaders with actionable insights on how coaching is improving key metrics such as teacher retention, staff satisfaction, and more
- impactConsole+: Everything in impactConsole, plus the ability to import student outcomes data to analyze and interpret learner behavior, identify growth and areas for improvement, and correlate teacher growth with student achievement
Public education looks very different today than it did ten years ago or even two years ago. Instructional methods, edtech tools, classroom best practices, standardized testing – it’s a constant evolution, the never-ending pursuit of doing right by our students. Without prioritizing the evolution of professional learning in tandem, however, we can’t possibly expect teachers to keep up and stick it out.
Smart professional learning gives educators superpowers to move beyond the methods of the past and meet the challenges of today!
With smart professional learning, we can finally stop the churn of PD and begin the journey towards intentional teacher support, increased retention rates, and, most importantly, improved student outcomes for the long haul.
BONUS: Not sure where to start? We've got a quiz for that! Take it here: How Smart is Your PD?
Ready to provide competency-based, smart professional learning for your teachers? We’re ready to be your partner. Get in touch with us today!