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Saturday, April 23, 2016

All that work takes time.

Friday was our last professional development day of the year.

As the co-chair of the professional development committee, the coordination of these days falls to me and my co-chair.

It took weeks of brainstorming, and meetings, and pestering people, and logistics management before we finally had a workable plan.

Initially, all we knew was that we would be focusing on the priorities we set at the beginning of the year.

But getting additional parameters was challenging.

Eventually, we decided to create a conference style morning with multiple break out sessions.

We recruited teacher-leaders to host sessions related to technology integration, PBIS, and assessment.

In all, we were able to offer over twenty sessions in three 45 minute rounds. We used a Google form to collect session preferences from each teacher.

Another teacher with much greater logistical skills than I scheduled each teacher into sessions to ensure group sizes were reasonable and everyone attended a wide array of students.

We were even able to accommodate a group of teachers from one of our middle schools.

The leaders selected the location of their choice and we published the list via email.

In addition, I arranged to borrow Chromebook carts from a few of the teachers lucky enough to have them and set up a check out system.

Every teacher was able to experience using a Chromebook as a learning tool for the day.

Teachers from a multitude of different departments lead, learned, and collaborated together.

The afternoon was a slightly different creature.

Our district is in the middle of a district wide book study with Assessment for Learning by Chappuis.

We are also working to become a full MOPLC school with Data Teams who routinely use a data collection and analysis cycle to improve instruction.

All that work takes time. Lots of time.

So we elected to reserve the afternoon for departments to meet together in data teams and work on our required tasks for the year.

I created a short Slides presentation that outlined the objectives, provided a brief sharing activity from the morning, updated everyone about what ESSA might mean for us, and provided the list of required tasks for reference.

It took me a little while to get all that information vetted, but it was worth it. It ensured everyone was pretty much on the same page.

In my opinion, having a three hour window to work with my team is a rare and precious opportunity.

Every department was able to work together. Each supervising administrator was able to tailor the time to meet the needs of each data team.

Of course, there were a few little glitches here and there.

A couple of people were mysteriously left off the morning schedule.

A few had last minute session change requests.

One leader was too sick to leave her home.

Almost everyone in my department was extremely late returning from lunch. Fourteen of us ate together and it took far longer than anticipated for everyone to get served and to eat.

One department had a communication snafu about which supervising administrator would be present and when. As a consequence they lacked as much direction for the afternoon as they might have preferred.

I had to chase down the last couple of Chromebooks to return them to their original locations.

But, despite those few little issues, it was an incredibly successful day.

I had numerous teachers tell me they had learned something new or that they had a good session, or that they felt less intimidated by our transition to 1:1 next year.

Three different teachers told me this was one of the best PD days they had ever had.

One told me this was the best their department had ever worked together.

Several leaders told me they enjoyed the experience and were grateful they were able to both lead and attend sessions as learners.

After school, I took a peek at the initial results from our feedback survey.

For every question about the morning break out sessions between 93% and 99% of the responses were excellent or very good.

I swear my jaw hit the floor when I saw those numbers. I anticipated the results would be positive, but 99% is unheard of and incredibly gratifying.

To me, it means I was part of providing professional development for my building that mattered, that was useful, that was differentiated, that met most people's needs or interests.

How could that not be a good thing?!

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