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Establishing a Collaborative Professional Development Team

Establishing a Collaborative Professional Development Team


In this lesson, students determine how, when, and with whom to develop a collaborative professional development plan

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Source: Globe, Clker,; Stick Figure, Clker,; Google Docs,; Deadline, Pixabay,; parade pictures by Gino Sanguiliano

Video Transcription

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Hello there and welcome. By now you know the important role that collaboration plays in teachers' professional growth. In this lesson, you will learn how to develop a professional development plan by determining how, when, and with whom to develop it with. Let's get started.

A neighboring town holds a 4th of July parade every year. In fact, it's, the oldest parade in the country, and it's a pretty big deal. A good friend of mine is on the Planning Committee for the special event. They have nightly entertainment the weeks leading up to the parade, and on the day of the parade, it's just amazing. There are floats, fireworks, marching bands from across the country, entertainers, music, politicians, and local celebrities. Each year, there seems to be a new twist or something added to enhance the experience, and the reason they can do that is because my friend and her committee literally meet year-round to organize this event. Essentially, they follow the same format you will hear about in this lesson.

The notion of collaborative professional development isn't yet completely common, but it's gaining traction. Those who have participated in it will tell you that experiencing collaborative professional development is a powerful practice. One of the appealing features of collaborative professional development is based on how we as adults learn. Collaborative professional development is aligned to adult learning theory, sociocultural, situated, and networked learning theories, as well.

So you've made the decision that collaborative professional development is right for you. The first question to ask yourself is when to initiate the professional growth plan. If you know someone that is working on the same or similar goals as you, start by talking with them. The process is much more valuable when the two of you share related outcomes. For example, you and a colleague are both trying to improve on an instructional practice, like the use of formative assessments. Or maybe you're both trying to better understand a new district initiative that you're charged with implementing, like a new math program.

Once you've made the decision to go collaborative, actually establishing a professional development team is fairly a simple process. First, determine who it is that will be working with you on your plan. It's best to select peers, or a peer, that you have a strong working relationship. Also, as previously mentioned, consider those colleagues that may be interested in pursuing similar professional development opportunities as you are.

When you begin to develop and draft your plan, start by creating a shared document. Now that technology offers us the capability to do so, working with shared documents is easier than ever. Using this approach allows many voices to be heard and perspectives to be explored. Having a shared document will help you develop a comprehensive and meaningful plan. You can find professional growth templates within many teacher evaluation models, and some districts have designed their own templates, as well. I recommend you find out if your district has a formal professional growth plan template. If it doesn't, there are some available from the states of Rhode Island and New York, just to name a couple.

As you and your peers are creating a plan and determining an approach, you need to decide collaboratively what it is you want to learn or increase your knowledge of. Also, the group should decide what the outcome of the learning should be. For example, your team may be creating benchmark assessments for your grade level.

Next, it is recommended that you develop collaborative SMART goals to guide your work. Remember, SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and or responsible, and time bound. These goals are what needs to get done. A to-do, so to speak, that include specific action steps and the metrics that you will use to measure the effectiveness of your professional development. Since it all goes back to the students, in most cases, student achievement data and or observational data is used to measure how effective the plan was.

When the time comes to actually evaluate the professional development plan and SMART goals, the determination of who will participate in that process needs to be made. You and your colleagues will have to decide how you will report out your progress and completion. Of course, your department head or administrator are great resources to access should you need help with this. If the plan is part of a formal teacher evaluation, your principal or primary evaluator will most likely be the one to evaluate it. If it's not, the professional growth plan and progress toward the goal and outcome will most likely be evaluated by you, your colleagues, or a critical friends group.

We all know how busy school life and teaching can get. That's why it's extremely important to develop is schedule to meet with your collaborative team on a regular basis. You will need to designate time to implement your actions and access any training or support that you might need. Of course, the schedule will depend on goals and objectives, and may even change over time. If you are fortunate to be in a district that follows the tenets of a professional learning community, the time to meet is already part of your schedule. Typically, collaboration should happen once a week. The absolute minimum would be to collaborate quarterly, but I certainly wouldn't recommend that.

Included in your schedule should be targets and benchmarks, anticipated dates for researching those targets and benchmarks, and who the responsible person is for the targets and benchmarks. As an administrator, I welcome collaboration on professional development and growth plans, and many others feel the same way. Just remember to keep your administrators in the loop by sharing your plan with them once you've narrowed your focus.

So to wrap up this lesson, we discussed the steps needed to create a collaborative professional development team. It included when and how to begin, how to develop a plan, creating a shared document, determining your approach, developing a SMART goal, planning for evaluation, and developing a schedule. Here's today's food for thought. Seek out some colleagues who have the same or similar goals as you do. Talk to them about it.

And for even more information on how to apply what you learned in this video, check out the additional resources section that accompanied this presentation. The additional resources includes hyperlinks useful for applications of course material, including a brief description of each resource. Thanks so much for joining me. We'll see you next time.

Notes on "Establishing a Collaborative Professional Development Team"

(00:00-00:16) Intro

(00:17-00:59) Happy 4th

(01:00-01:26) Collaborative PD

(01:27-02:25) When And How To Start

(02:26-03:20) Developing A Plan

(03:21-04:33) SMART Goals

(04:34-05:34) Developing A Schedule

(05:35-06:21) Summary/Food For Thought

Additional Resources

Creating SMART Professional Development Goals

This article walks teachers through the use of the SMART format to develop and measure their professional development goals.

Section 3: Develop a Professional Growth Plan

This resource from the Alberta Teachers' Association offers templates and step by step explanations of how to create a SMART goal for professional learning.