When planning for your staff development or professional development or growth opportunity…do you differentiate for your teachers?
I know, I know…with everything else on your plate, now you’re supposed to add that to your list of to do’s? The answer is yes, if you want them to be completely dialed in and connected. In the same way that we expect our teachers to meet the needs of the learners in their class, we as administrators need to recognize the different levels of abilities and experiences on our staff. A differentiated approach to PD is needed to meet the diversity of teacher needs. PD should always be an evolving process of reflection and growth, and the way to accomplish that, is to get creative with how it’s planned and delivered.
Meeting teachers where they are isn’t nearly as complicated as it sounds. Depending on what you are discussing, teachers can be grouped according to familiarity or confidence in the topic. This can be discovered through a needs assessment or of their own volition. Allowing teachers to feel invested and providing a choice in what they are learning will almost certainly pay dividends in the long run. This will also reinforce your expectations within the classroom.
Grouping teachers is one way of differentiating. What else can you do?
- Give options in what your teachers are discussing, #edcamp style. I’ve even “prepped” teachers with a couple of topics that I knew that I wanted to see covered, but left most of the board blank, for their input.
- Allow conversations, not just “sit & get” sessions.
- Flip your meetings, to make the discussions more valid & transparent. Allow teacher voice!
- Let your groups of ability leveled learners be led by members of your own staff. Call on the experience in your building!
- Create a bucket list of activities you’d like to see in classrooms.
Supporting teachers begins with knowing that we should meet their individual needs in their own learning and growth. We no longer can be ok with the status quo, or a one size fits all mentality when it comes to PD. As the leader, it is up to you ensure that each educator has what they need in order to be the very best that they can be in their classroom. In the same way that students want to be interested, invested, and engaged, our teachers do too! Make your professional development an opportunity to be a role model and allow for a “different” development, a differentiation based one!
I challenge you this week to rethink your professional development. Share one way you plan on perking up and differentiating your PD!
I hope you have a great week and are warm where ever you are!