PD Shouldn't Suck

Julie Dalke

It was so exciting to be accepted to present at Learning Forward’s national conference this year (December 2017). Our whole NW BOCES SEED team attended along with three teachers (Afton Sheil from NP, Megan Henderson from EG, and Naomi Lang from SS). We presented a 3-hour session on how to support implementation of new learning for teachers through personalization, reflection, and classroom implementation assignments.

While we were at the conference, a “PD Shouldn’t Suck!” t-shirt caught my eye. We were in the Exhibitors Hall for breakfast in the Swan & Dolphin resort in Orlando Florida. It is so true, PD should not suck.

I first came across Learning Forward’s Professional Learning Standards when I was researching best practices in professional development for a grant application. (Click here to read more on the difference between professional learning and professional development.) Their standards are a great way to make sure that PD doesn’t suck.

In one of the sessions I attended at the conference, the presenter said, “Every single teacher and administrator should be familiar with Learning Forward’s Professional Learning Standards and demand that their professional learning meet these standards.” To that end, here is a brief introduction to the standards:

Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students…

  1. Occurs within learning communities committed to continuous improvement, collective responsibility, and goal alignment;

  2. Requires skillful leaders who develop capacity, advocate, and create support systems for professional learning;

  3. Requires prioritizing, monitoring, and coordinating resources for educator learning;

  4. Uses a variety of sources and types of student, educator, and system data to plan, assess, and evaluate professional learning;

  5. Integrates theories, research, and models of human learning to achieve its intended outcomes through effective learning designs;

  6. Applies research on change and sustains support for implementation of professional learning for long-term change; and

  7. Aligns its outcomes with educator performance and student curriculum standards.

Demand that professional learning involves collaboration with peers in a well-structured learning community; demand that your leaders build capacity and provide support; demand that high-quality resources are well-managed; demand that data informs planning and evaluation of your professional learning; demand that the model of learning is effective, relevant, and personalized; demand that ongoing support for implementation is in place; and finally, demand that professional learning has clear outcomes based on student and educator performance. You can read more about the standards at www.learningforward.org.