Friday, May 15, 2009

Sustainability Models for Staff Development

I’ve been doing some work recently with Janet Hale, who is a national staff developer around Curriculum Mapping. We talk often about the intersection of content, skills, assessment, and standards and how teachers need to understand the components of designing curriculum around those areas, versus just being involved in curriculum practice.

I’ve been thinking about this in terms of staff development, particularly around technology, and specifically around how staff developers can KNOW that a particular new tool or resource is being used beyond the workshop. In essence, what evidence are we collecting to prove that what we are doing is being used/implemented or having an impact on student achievement?

In the classroom, a teacher has an action plan to help kids understand the standards-based content. Likewise, a staff developer would have an action plan to help others understand a new pedagogical frame using and integrating technology. In the classroom, we determine what kids know and are able to do through assessment, both formative and summative, but how do we assess impact with staff development?

One of the problems, obviously, is the “Drive By” model of staff development, where we go into a school for a day, deliver instruction, perhaps have some guided and independent practice, and then leave. Once the workshop is over, and speaking beyond initial motivation and engagement, what is the real impetus for change, and how do we know that successful change (sustained change) has occurred?

In the team that I work on, we’ve discussed this frequently and brainstorm ideas about how to tackle the issue. Part of the solution is moving to a “coaching” type model, where we do initial instruction around a particular new skill or resource, then continue to develop and hone the skill over a period of time, one-on-one, or with subsequent workshop opportunities. We also do one-on-one type “partner” training where we would help teachers develop AND implement a lesson around technology, then include a reflection piece to understand what did or didn’t work and use that information to help drive future instruction.

What other ideas are out there? What else is working for Staff Developers? If you are a teacher, what kind of sustainability model would work best for you? Feel free to leave answers/comments here by clicking on "Comments."



  1. Mike, what about tying that PD directly to the action plans the teacher has going in the classrooms, so that it is tied to student performance? For example, in looking at my iPod Pilot, this week's goal is to get them to look at the multiplication games we have, play three of them at least 30 minutes each (over a week's time) and discuss the differences. The following Monday I plan to assess their math facts again. Hopefully the data will show the work on the iPods made a difference, and their anecdotal records will show which we should keep and which delete. :-)

    I realize that's a pretty low level assessment, BUT couldn't we tie things like that into use of different technologies or web sites?

  2. That's why we bought the book, Assessing Impact.

  3. Mike, as someone who provides PD in my district I understand what you mean. I'm considering for next year creating a survey on Google Forms to gather some data. It might include if they've used the tool or skill, how often, why or why not, what kind of follow-up support are they looking for etc. At that point, I think I could probably provide the support they needed whether that be more training, a classroom visit, or one-to-one attention. I'm in a good position in my district to provide that...I don't know if you are. I hope this provides any meaningful considerations. Thanks.

  4. Hi Mike,

    We are also contemplating changes in staff development in my district. As we begin the transition from what you call "drive-by" inservices to more in-depth opportunities, I see a need for the development of an effective process to facilitate these changes. There are so many groups and individuals with as many opinions on these changes that the task currently seems overwhelming. The paradigms are so ingrained in the culture. How do we begin to crack them open?