Friday, September 12, 2014

Professional Development Updates 
For All Those Data-Lovin’ Hearts...

Sarah Lorenz

Part 1 of 3

As we have expanded our long term and district partnerships, I have noticed a need for additional data and evidence about our professional development work. As teachers, we know that people don’t learn complex skills instantaneously, and we understand that making major shifts in literacy instruction isn’t going to happen overnight, either—not even in a single school year. So schools must invest thousands of dollars in professional learning, year after year, in training, coaching, collaborative work time, resources, etc. It’s difficult for schools to make this commitment, because of tight budgets, multiple pressing curricular concerns, and the fact that it just isn’t the norm. The educational community tends toward ADHD when it comes to professional development.

To address some of these issues, I have been developing a plan for collecting data to show the progress that is taking place within the professional development work—progress that may often be hidden. Hopefully this will help schools take the long view when planning their professional development supports. I’ve identified five sources of data to collect—if you have ideas for other sources, please let me know, as this is a work in progress.

• Teacher perception data about the goals and the usefulness of each PD session
• Quality of writing assignment data, from the Assignment Design Framework from NWP
• Changes in practice data, from the Instructional Coaching Scale
• Quality of student writing, through formal or informal evaluation with a rubric or a protocol
• Standardized testing data

To begin, I’m working with schools to identify a specific goal or goals that we will use to guide our work. I’ve noticed that many times teachers are unclear as to the goals of professional development or those goals do not resonate with them. I am working to facilitate communication between the principal and teachers so that the goals are mutually agreed-upon. Staff can write a problem of practice that helps to identify where they want to go, with the goal/s an outgrowth. The next step is to continually refer back to those goals, so that we can assess if we are moving in the right direction. As we both plan our PD sessions and then evaluate them, we have to ask, “Did this move us toward our goal?” If we have problems, we have to ask if the goal is wrong, if the execution is poor, or if there is some other issue. A second element of this planning is to create a theory of action. This is typically a chart that shows what we intend to do (the input), beginning, middle, and end-stage changes, the final outcome we expect, and the method of evaluation. Adding these middle steps showing incremental change can be helpful in showing teachers what they are being asked to do, what principals can be looking for as their teachers make changes, and how we can check to see if things are proceeding as planned.

To be continued in the next edition...

No comments: