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Aligning Professional Development in Context

Aligning Professional Development in Context

Author: Gino Sangiuliano

In this lesson, students evaluate the importance of aligning strategic and school improvement goals to professional development plans.

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Video Transcription

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Hi, there and welcome. As we continue to learn more about professional development, in this lesson, we will do so from the perspective of why it's so important to align our PD work with the strategic and school improvement goals. Let's get started.

Professional development conducted in a vacuum very rarely works and certainly isn't sustainable. When creating professional development plans, you really need to take into consideration how it fits into the larger vision, and that is when alignment needs to occur. It's usually not as easy as just picking a single area for alignment, however, since there are so many to choose from. For example, do you want to align your plan with the professional teacher standards, the ISTE teacher standards, your teacher evaluation rubrics, your site and district plans or initiatives, or maybe to a relevant theory, like adult learning theory, networked learning theory, situated or sociocultural learning theory?

As you know, district's strategic plan and your site-based initiatives are connected or aligned. So too are your site-based initiatives and individual professional development plans. The district's strategic plan is the driver and everything else should fall in line with it. The strategic plan provides the main direction for a school to accomplish things, and that is to improve student achievement. It also helps articulate the outcomes of student achievement, as well as any resources needed to get there, and that is when quality and targeted professional development comes in.

The primary focus of a district's strategic goal is the student. To impact the student, that focus needs to be expanded to include instructional strategies, rigorous content, and student achievement outcomes. Those concepts and others like them are extremely relevant when planning professional development. Once the district's strategic goals have been formalized and approved by the school board, the onus is placed on the individual schools and programs to develop their own cycles to assure that the strategic plans and initiatives are followed and achieved. This trickle-down arrangement helps keep things focused and on point. At the school level, it's very common for professional development goals to be included, however, only if they're aligned to the district goals.

In site-based management, schools are given some level of autonomy. However, that doesn't mean they should go rogue. Best practice for site-based initiatives is to be aligned to the vision, mission, and goals of the district's strategic plan as well, and this should be outlined in the school improvement plan. Continue in this model, illustrated by the inverted pyramid of alignment, your site-based initiatives will connect the entire school, administrators, teachers, and students. As mentioned, any professional development activities you engage in at the school level should also align to the school's goals and goals of the site-based initiatives. Likewise, individual professional development plan should also align to those same school-based goals and initiatives.

Here's an example to illustrate how that alignment might occur. A district's strategic plan is to ensure success for all students. One of the steps to help them get there is to implement a 1:1 technology initiative. As part of the district's roll-out, they offer a district-wide technology unconference and invite teachers to select which sessions to attend, based on their specific needs. A teacher attends a sessions on how to use Google Forms and is excited to integrate them into practice, so she includes it as part of her professional development plan. You, no doubt, can see the common thread.

So we can summarize this lesson in one word-- alignment. It's essential in all the work that we do as an individual, school, and district that professional development should most definitely reflect this notion. And now for today's food for thought. Think back to the last professional development that you attended. Was it aligned to school and district's goals? To dive a little deeper and learn how to apply this information, check out the Additional Resources section associated with this video. This is what you'll find links targeted toward helping you discover more ways to apply this course material. Thanks so much for watching. We'll see you next time.

Notes on "Aligning Professional Development in Context"

(00:00-00:14) Intro

(00:15-00:55) PD Alignment

(00:56-01:29) Alignment To District And Site

(01:30-02:15) Professional Development

(02:16-02:58) Alignments

(02:59-03:31) Example

(03:32-04:12) Summary/Food For Thought

Additional Resources

Creating Effective District Professional Development Plans

This tool guides the creation of district professional development plans linked to initiatives and SMART goals.

Strategy #4: Investing in Professional Development

Practical suggestions for professional development with teachers.