Revising the Question...Again

Published: 2019-02-24 01:11 |

Category: Theory | Tags: action research, effectiveness, professional development, reflection, research, revising

I started a series of professional development workshops with teachers this week. It's a series of half-day work sessions with full departments and I'm focusing on active learning and assessment techniques all centered on literacy within the content area. It's really a part two to a full-day conference we held for teachers earlier this month and my task (and goal) is to make sure teachers are equipped with the how *after hearing the *why at the kickoff.
My original question was framed as a negative: Why don't teachers implement learning from professional development? I think this has an inherent bias, assuming that teachers don't try to use what they've learned. Based on my work this week (and looking ahead), there is definitely a desire to do things and it seemed that the lack of planning time with colleagues was a bigger cause of inaction than not trying.

I'm going to adjust my question: How can my role effect change through professional development?

I want to move away from what other people do to how I can help impact their habits through strong professional development. I'm still not thrilled with the wording, but I'm interested in what structural components make a program effective when it comes to implementing ideas. To start, I brainstormed some gut feeling indicators and questions that (I hope) will guide some of my research.

  • Relationships: I know my teachers and they trust me and my instruction.
  • Instructional focus: Everything I do has an instructional lens or context. I do not rely on technology gimmicks to increase buy in.
  • Application: All of my workshops bring a heavy focus on in-the-classroom application of ideas through modeling or case study examples.

Some other related questions:

  • How does continuity of study (ie, a PD sequence rather than a one-off workshop) affect implementation?
  • Is there an ideal timing? How often (in a series) seems to be effective?
  • What does the interim look like in between workshops?
  • Are volunteers more likely to implement training? Or are groups, even if they're elected to come by leadership?
  • How does the group dynamic affect buy in or implementation after the fact? Would establishing norms at the outset remove stigma?

The featured image is IMG_6750, a flickr photo by classroomcamera shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

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