Choosing clear goals for teacher learning is one of the most essential -- and difficult -- elements of planning effective PD for teachers. PD leaders generally need to shift from, “What ideas should I teach teachers?” to “What teaching practices do teachers need to learn?” Practice-focused questions require the PD leader to think about what they want teachers to be doing in the classroom rather than just planning for what they want teachers to be thinking about. For example, teachers might learn a lot of new concepts from a workshop on “The Principles of Differentiated Instruction,” but if they aren’t given clear illustrations of how to differentiate for their particular ELA students, they aren’t likely to implement what they have learned.
Specifically, what practices do these teachers need to learn in order to better support their students? (“I want teachers to build in time for students to conference with each other and with the teacher about their reading responses, at each stage of the response process.”)
Specifically, what will it look like in the classroom if they implement what they learn? (“If the workshop is successful, I should be able to go to many of the teachers’ classrooms and see pairs of students discussing their writing, while the teacher circulates and asks focusing questions to keep the talk on track.”)
4. PD Follow-Up:
After the workshop, how can I give teachers the additional time and support they need to develop the practice? (“I’m going to visit each of these teachers in their classrooms when they are conferencing so I can give them all feedback on their practice, and make some suggestions for improvements in the future.”) Here--giving examples of teacher conferencing with students and showing students how to conference with each other. Perhaps use second example throughout--and suggest different video model.