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Adapting a Professional Development Plan

Adapting a Professional Development Plan

Author: Trisha Fyfe

This lesson discusses criteria and processes for altering a professional development plan.

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Welcome. I'm Trisha Fyfe, and in today's lesson we'll look at the topic Adapting a Professional Development Plan. As we learn about this topic, we will work towards several learning objectives, and we'll use the following questions to guide our learning in this lesson. What are approaches to adjusting an instructional improvement plan? And what is the role of accountability in professional development?

As teachers, one of the most important things we can do for both ourselves and our students is to continue growing. One of the many ways we do this is to put into place professional development or improvement plans. As hard as we work on these, they sometimes need adjustments, just as an individual plan elements such as goals, benchmarks, and outcomes do. If those supporting us, such as our instructional team or instructional coach, feel our plans are not adequate or they're not working, we might have to adapt the entire plan. These changes should be purposeful and beneficial. They need to be accurate and they must reflect what the goals are for our students.

There are several reasons a teacher and coach might decide to change a professional development plan. These include the fact that lessons might lack student engagement. Maybe achievement and assessment scores are not sufficient. According to feedback of students, something might not be working. A teacher and coach finds new or beneficial tools. They might need to be changed if needs or circumstances have changed, or different approaches are needed. The approaches might need to be altered according to peer, evaluator, or coach feedback, or there may not be alignment of the plan and goals of the school and the district. As teachers, we can use the support of instructional coaches to assist us in identifying when changes might be needed. We might also gain valuable feedback that results in changes of the plan from pure observations or collaborative groups we're a part of, such as critical friends groups, or professional learning communities.

Sometimes a teacher might feel resistance change. After working so hard to develop a plan, it can be overwhelming to consider having to change the plan, especially after putting so much time and investment into the current plan. It's also hard for teachers when there are so many things that are constantly changing around them already.

There are some best practices when you're considering changing a plan. When it's essential to make changes to a professional plan, it's important to consider these. Improved student achievement should be the focus. The plan must align with this very important goal. Collaboration is essential. Collaboration with students, teachers, and the instructional coach, as well as at times with members of instructional teams. We can make these changes by working together.

Reflection is critical. Both the teacher and instructional coach must reflect. What went well? What must be improved? Achievement data, observational data, and any other feedback can be used. Teachers and coaches can decide on how things should be changed based on this data and feedback. It's also a best practice for the coach to assist the teacher throughout this entire process. Coaches should guide teachers in developing skills for reflection and support them in using the PDSA cycle to continuously improve.

Educators, schools, and districts are all held accountable for student performance. When in the educational context, this is what accountability implies. All students must be learning what they are supposed to be learning. Assessments at state, local, and in the national level measure this. These various assessments and where students are as far as achievement, as well as standards that are met or not met, are used to determine student performance. Because student achievement is at the forefront of our goals as teachers, we must keep in mind this accountability at all times, including when we're part of an instructional coaching partnership and when we're working on professional development. Because of the importance of both student achievement and accountability, student data and evidence that we collect as teachers is a very critical to coaching and to professional development.

So how can we determine if changes are in fact needed? When looking at improving instructionally as a teacher, or when evaluating our professional development plan, we look at assessment data. This data is evidence of our students' successes and challenges. What this data tells us will help us determine how success is measured. It also helps us determine how we can tell if changes are needed to our plan. We can use the data to make improvements to instructional practices. As teachers, we should look at this assessment data and other evidence, and compare students' levels of progress against a standard. It is important to reference standards when looking at this data. It helps the teacher and coach, as well as other individuals supporting the teacher, to measure learning of students against a metric that is widely used.

When we consider accountability, we can help make sure that our students are getting similar educational experiences regardless of location or socioeconomic status. This accountability helps us determine if in fact our students are studying the same curriculum, even if they're in different schools or they have different teachers.

Let's talk about what we learned today. We looked at the questions, what are approaches to adjusting an instructional improvement plan? And what is the role of accountability in professional development? In this lesson, we talked about how we can adapt a professional development plan. We discuss reasons that a teacher and coach might change a plan, and we explored how we can begin to make those changes to a plan.

Now that you're more familiar with these concepts, let's reflect. What do you feel the challenges would be for you personally in changing a professional development plan? What's support would benefit you most in this process?

Thanks for joining me today in discussing the lesson Adapting a Professional Development Plan. I hope you found value in this video lesson and are able to apply these ideas and resources to your own teaching. As you reflect on how this new information can be applied, you may want to explore the additional resources section that accompanies this video presentation. This is where you'll find links to resources chosen to help you deepen your learning and explore ways to apply your newly acquired skill set.

Notes on “Adapting a Professional Development Plan”


(00:00- 00:25) Introduction/Objectives

(00:26- 02:30) Developing a New Plan

(02:31- 03:31) Best Practices

(03:32- 05:36) Accountability

(05:37- 05:57) Recap

(05:58- 06:38) Reflection 

Additional Resources

USDOE: Accountability for Schools 

These helpful resources and articles from the US Department of Education fully explain the purpose and use of accountability systems in schools.

Never Good Enough: Tips For Continuous School Improvement

This article from the American Association of School Administrators reviews the steps in continuous school improvement with practical tips.