By the time the students show up on day one, many teachers have participated in 20-30 hours of PD during the summer and opening in-service days. And the newer the teachers, the higher that number can be. All too often that PD doesn’t have formal practice or follow-up and so can easily fall to the wayside and never get integrated into the classroom. If you’re on PD overload and aren’t sure what to do with all of that information, here is a simple process to help make sure you get something out of all that time you invested.
- Make a list of 5 things you want to implement – It is very unlikely you can implement everything you learned this summer all at once, so choose the 5 most high-impact strategies, write them down, and pin them on the wall next to your computer so you don’t lose track of them. These should be very specific so they’re actually doable. For example, instead of ‘differentiation’ as 1 of the 5, all 5 might be specific pieces of differentiation like ‘leveled practice’ or ‘product choice menus.’
- Choose 1 strategy to implement first – The surest way to find success is to choose one strategy to start with and focus on only that piece first. If you try to do everything at once you may get overwhelmed and risk feeling like a failure. There are a million other things going on the first few weeks of school, so one new strategy is plenty!
- Ask someone to observe you implementing the strategy – this may seem out of order, but if you arrange ahead of time for someone to observe you, it will help you stay committed to implementing the strategy. If you’re anything like me, without the pressure of knowing someone is coming on a certain day, you may never get started with the new strategy, especially if you’re nervous about it.
- Get feedback on the lesson plan – Before you execute the strategy with your students, ask a trusted colleague and/or the person who’s going to observe you to look over the lesson plan and give you feedback. It’s discouraging if the lesson flops with the kids the first time you try it, so don’t be afraid to ask for help beforehand. And when you get observed, ask for 1-2 ways the lesson was successful as well as 1-2 growth areas for the lesson. If you have great instructional leaders on your campus you may not need to do this, but if you’re in a situation where you need to ask a colleague to observe you or if you are worried you won’t get helpful feedback, asking for the exact kind of feedback you want will help guide them to a more successful debrief conversation.
- Do it Again! Depending on the complexity of the strategy, you may need to implement #1 on your list a few more times and get feedback when you can. Or you may be ready to add on #2 and keep trucking down the list!
What strategies from PD have you been able to successfully implement? What helped you be successful?