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Designing A Professional Learning Program

These materials are intended for the use of the School-Based Staff Development Committee (SDC). They are guides to help the team envision a professional development program that starts with the end in mind — student achievement.

Download the complete guide as a PDF »

While each school will determine its needs, learning structures, and means of evaluating their process, keep in mind that schools that continually improve have the following strengths:

  • Clarity: A shared and clear idea about what high-quality teaching and learning should look like.
  • Planning: A strategic approach to schoolwide improvement, including time, structures, and spaces for adult learning.
  • Approach: A collaborative approach to adult learning that is embedded in practice which relies on engagement and inquiry rather than compliance (Titel 2013).
  • Trust: A necessary ingredient for teachers and schools to change (Learning Forward 2014). With trust we can better identify how we need to grow as a school and individuals.
  • Appreciation: A way to respect past and present strengths and efforts, demonstrates mutual respect and has a powerful impact on collaboration and school culture (Whitney, D. & Trosten-Bloom, A. 2003).

Introduction: What is professional development?
Learning Forward defines professional development as a "comprehensive, sustained and intensive approach to improving teachers' and principals' effectiveness in raising student achievement."

How does the school-based staff development committee plan for professional development?
An introduction to the five phases of "back-mapping" PD with the end in mind.

Phase 1: Analyze student performance
The committee and school as a whole begins with the end in mind by using the current data to set learning targets and select appropriate professional learning structures to meet the needs of both students and educators alike.

Phase 2: Identify learning targets for educators
In order to determine priority areas of need for educators in your community, the SDC team should begin to come to consensus on learning targets.

Phases 3 & 4: Examine structures; design and implement professional learning and evaluation
As a school community, take the time to discuss several different professional learning options.

Phase 5: Provide support for learning and implementation
Consistent monitoring and feedback is required to determine the effectiveness of the professional learning.