Your School “U”
Many educators feel that professional development in public schools is dismal. It is often
thrown together at the last moment, discontinuous throughout the whole year, and simply
ineffective at helping educators grow personally and professionally. Reasons for this may
include time and budget constraints, both in planning and execution. Abdal-Haqq (1996) states
that, “Teachers, researchers, and policymakers consistently indicate that the greatest challenge to
implementing effective professional development is lack of time.” The goal is then to be able to
provide ways to efficiently evaluate, plan, implement, and monitor professional development
activities that are inexpensive and can fit within the busy academic school year.
Educators are very weary when it comes to professional development. Any new ideas
that are introduced are often met with skepticism and resistance, which will vary from district to
district. It is important that the personnel in charge of professional development address this
issue when implementing a new holistic plan for professional development to alleviate as much
skepticism as possible. Senge and his colleagues (1994) referred to several levels of presenting
new ideas to an organization, depending on the culture of the group. Creating a culture of
learning and discipline toward that learning will take different amounts of time depending on the
situation. Pushing too fast or with not enough time dedicated to developing quality professional
development can only make that transition more difficult. Knowles’s theory of adult learning
(Knowles, Holton, & Swanson, 2005) stated that adult learners learn best when they know their
purpose for learning the material at hand, are allowed to be self-directed, can bring in prior
experiences, and realize the need for learning as a vehicle for growth, making the motivations for
learning more internal than external.
Licklider (1997) stated that professional development has the greatest impact when the
emphasis is on changing teaching behaviors that affect student performance and when the skills
learned can be practiced and applied in the classroom. The content should be research-based and
skill-specific. The idea of practice demands revisiting the content several times; therefore, most
single event professional development sessions are poor by design. There needs to be time
allotted for instruction, practice, reflection, discussion, and feedback, making structural design
one of the pillars of professional development.
One of the key areas where teachers need professional development is in technology
integration. Again, several days of professional development is inappropriate for technology
training. It is akin to giving someone several short lessons on golf followed by registering them
in a tournament, without so much as even letting them go to the driving range after each lesson.
Since most technology training is implemented in a piecemeal fashion, teachers cannot be
motivated to learn because they do not see the purpose in the training, and have no time to bring
in their prior experiences. The motivation cannot be internalized because the teachers cannot see
the training as leading toward substantial growth and job satisfaction. I found this statement very
interesting. I’d build on the “job satisfaction” angle a little more. This is a fascinating link.
There is no time to practice, let alone reflect and discuss. Finally, and most importantly, there
are probably just as many studies showing no change in student performance when technology is
used as there are those showing a positive change in performance. – cite them! Thus, one could
hardly fault a teacher for showing disdain for inadequate training on a topic that, if implemented,
would require more work on their part (i.e., redesigning lesson plans, etc.) and may or may not
yield gains in student achievement. However, the push to compete in a globalized society
requires that we change the way we currently educate our students (Zhao, 2009).
A New Approach
It is a constant struggle for both teachers and school districts to meet all of the
requirements for professional development and continuing education. Since 1992, newly
certified teachers must complete 18 graduate credits within their first 6 years of teaching to
renew their teaching certificate, and must complete 6 credits or 18 Continuing Education Units
(CEUs) every 5 years after (Michigan State Board of Education, 2009). Since the 2001-2002
school year, school districts in the State of Michigan are required to provide at least 5 days of
teacher professional development (Michigan Department of Education, 2009). Beginning with
the 2010-2011 school year, five hours of the professional development must be provided in an
online format from a state approved vendor. In addition, our district currently has a large
number of veteran teachers who fall into one or more of the following categories. The teacher:
• started teaching after 1992 and thus needs continual education
• has completed a Master's degree, and may not see a return on investment for any
additional academic pursuits (i.e., MA+30, Ed.S., or Ph.D.)
• cannot afford the ever increasing tuition and fees associated with graduate courses
Veteran educators have a vested interest, both financial and professional, to examine alternatives
to the traditional system of taking two classes every five years over their entire career. With
respect to technology, newer teachers are becoming more proficient, and as new avenues of
instruction arise, those who are not up-to-date may find themselves in the same position as the
manufacturing sector, out of a job and no skill sets to help them adapt.
Administration has a stake in training as well. In addition to the requirements that you go
on to talk about there are also school improvement implications, accreditation implications all
related to PD. You might want to touch on them. Otherwise it sounds like the only reason we do
PD is because we have to. They are required to provide opportunities during the year, but so
many other groups are clamoring for the same slices of time. Most teacher contracts prevent
districts from requiring training or attendance over the summer months, which is a critical time
for transfer of learning and reflection. If there was an incentive for teachers to voluntarily attend
training over the summer, this would alleviate some of the time constraints and allow for true
professional development to occur. If you could design a chart that summarize the options and
limitations that you talk about, that would be great.
PD Design Limitation
Full Day PD twice a year Sporadic, little sustainability, . . . .
College Courses Costly
Given these factors, then, a solution could be reached where teachers can reduce the costs
for renewing their certificates, administrators can provide sustained training, and both parties
benefit from the results of the training, namely that of the potential for increased student
achievement. The start-up and approval process would take some time, but over the long term a
sustainable professional development program with minimal upkeep can be achieved. In
addition, relationships with local universities can provide avenues for those who wish to pursue
advanced degrees as well. Work in opportunities for research and grants
The target audience would be those teachers who fit into situations mentioned above.
The teachers in the middle of their careers have some technological aptitude, are fairly
comfortable in the classroom, are not completely disenchanted with the educational system (and
the current system of professional development), and need credits, but are also starting families
and find themselves with decreasing time availability. If successful, it would then spread word-
of-mouth to others (i.e., older, more skeptical staff), and the program could be used as a model to
provide training to new teachers.
Goals and Objectives
The long term goal of the project is to exemplify the International Society for Technology
in Education (ISTE) National Education Technology Standards for Teachers. In particular:
2. Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments
Teachers design, develop, and evaluate authentic learning experiences and assessment
incorporating contemporary tools and resources to maximize content learning in context
and to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes identified in the NETS•S. Teachers:
a. design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and
resources to promote student learning and creativity.
b. develop technology-enriched learning environments that enable all students to
pursue their individual curiosities and become active participants in setting their
own educational goals, managing their own learning, and assessing their own
c. customize and personalize learning activities to address students' diverse
learning styles, working strategies, and abilities using digital tools and resources.
d. provide students with multiple and varied formative and summative
assessments aligned with content and technology standards and use resulting data
to inform learning and teaching.
3. Model Digital-Age Work and Learning
Teachers exhibit knowledge, skills, and work processes representative of an innovative
professional in a global and digital society. Teachers:
a. demonstrate fluency in technology systems and the transfer of current
knowledge to new technologies and situations.
b. collaborate with students, peers, parents, and community members using digital
tools and resources to support student success and innovation.
c. communicate relevant information and ideas effectively to students, parents,
and peers using a variety of digital-age media and formats.
d. model and facilitate effective use of current and emerging digital tools to
locate, analyze, evaluate, and use information resources to support research and
learning. (ISTE, 2008)
Of course, this will not occur immediately; it will be an iterative process. For the first year of the
program, the following objectives would be in reach:
• The technology director will conduct a needs assessment to identify weaknesses in the
technological aptitudes of teaching staff to create the agenda for future offerings.
• Teachers will register with the state’s newly developed system for tracking SB-CEUs
• Administrators will get all training approved for SB-CEUs through Oakland Schools.
• Administrators will identify teachers who are able to design and develop courses for SB-
CEUs and graduate credit, where applicable.
• Administrators will actively recruit teachers who are in the target audience to participate
in the initiative through either casual conversation or through the staff member’s
contractual Individualized Plan of Development (IDP).
• The technology director will take at least half of the workshops offered and convert the
trainings to an online format such as Moodle.
• A team of teachers and administrators will examine formative and summative evaluation
data for the workshops and classes and use the data to revise them for the future.
In keeping with the spirit of making the training meaningful to the teachers, the learning
objectives of the first year will focus more on Goal #3 of the NETS for teachers. If the teachers
see the benefits of these tools and how they make their jobs more efficient and productive, it will
help pave the way for them to want to learn how to use these tools in the classroom. It will
further help that cause when the students see them modeling these practices when discussing the
importance of applying these collaborative tools and techniques for projects and assignments.
With that said, the learning objectives for any course or workshop developed will be one or more
of the following:
• Teachers will use a collaborative tool (i.e., a Web 2.0 tool) to develop two common
assessments with colleagues who teach the same course during the 2010-2011 school
• Teachers will assemble a news aggregator or RSS reader containing at least 10
subscriptions to feeds related to education or their specific content area during the
2010-2011 school year.
• Teachers within a department will create an account with a social bookmarking site
(delicious or Diigo) and network with their departmental colleagues.
• Teachers will create an account with a microblogging service (Twitter or Plurk) and in
addition to their colleagues locate at least 10 users who post on material relevant to
education or their content area.
• Teachers will use a blog as a means to discuss ideas (gained through the previous three
tools) in their department during the 2010-2011 school year. Posts will be made monthly
with an obligation to comment and respond.
In short, these objectives are meant to allow for better collaboration between staff in the
building, as well as making teachers into consumers of educational and content specific
information from educators from around the world. Keep in mind that these are not directives
from administration (which may or may not violate the bargaining agreement), but rather
requirements for getting SB-CEUs and/or credits. In the future, many of these objectives could
be modified for the most part by simply substituting the word “student” for “teacher” when the
focus shifts more toward implementing these tools in the classroom.
I think tying your goals to the NETS is great, but it limits the audience to ISTE and MACUL. If
you can also pull in some curriculum/assessment/improvement type goals (like maybe from
NCA or MDE) that would widen the audience.
Graduate Credit and SB-CEUs
Several local universities offer in-house programs where staff members develop and
deliver courses to their peers for graduate credit. The university shares a portion of the revenue
with the district to offset any costs. In this situation, teachers can develop courses to address the
objectives set forth by the district, and teachers can take the courses taught by their colleague,
usually at competitive tuition rates. Even if there are courses offered elsewhere for less, the
convenience of delivering the content at work can outweigh the time spent driving to campus,
not to mention the costs travel and parking. One example of this arrangement is between Central
Michigan University (CMU) and local districts.
The CMU credit can be used to meet certificate renewal requirements (6 hours every five
years) or for pay advancement within a school district. Normally the course would not apply to
an advanced degree. Anyone wishing to use the course toward an advanced degree should first
consult with their academic advisor to ensure the course would apply on their program.
CMU partners with a school district or educational organization. They do not revenue
share with an individual. All expenses for the professional development training would be paid
for by the district, including any compensation to the trainer who would also be serving as the
CMU instructor of record. Central Michigan University will revenue share 50% of the tuition
received to the school district to be used to offset course expenses. This check will be processed
after grades have been received from the instructor.
To create a course, CMU needs the following items: syllabus, course outline, Course
Submittal Form, resume for the instructor, and a copy of the instructor’s Master’s Degree
transcript. The course needs to meet for 15 contact hours for one semester hour of credit, 27
hours for two semester hours or 36 hours for three semester hours. Contact hours can be made
up of site-based instruction, online instruction or a combination of both. As a guideline, 60% of
the contact in an online course should include the professor through online interaction. The
online component needs to include academic activities related to accomplishing the objectives of
the course. That can include readings posted with chat around a set of questions, or it can include
watching video clips with chat or it can include posting of assignments that need to be completed
independently. The key is that the online component clearly supports the outcomes of the
Evaluation criteria must equal 100% and must be tied back to the course goals and
learning objectives and be measurable (i.e., quiz, lesson plan, log, presentations, tests, project,
etc.). Participation and attendance are expectations of a graduate level course and cannot be used
as evaluation criteria unless accompanied by a rubric. The course outline must include a
descriptive explanation of each session and the contact hours for each session. Once the course
and instructor credentials have been received in our office, the material will be sent to the CMU
department for review and approval. After the office receives approval, CMU will send the
district a financial letter, credit roster and credit registration packets. Anyone interested in credit
through CMU, will list their name and contact information on the roster and be given a credit
registration packet. Educators may register online, by phone or by mail. After everyone is
admitted and registered, CMU will send the instructor a grade list.
Students would pay tuition per credit hour, in addition to a one-time non-degree
admission fee for anyone not previously admitted to the university. As a final note, a similar
program exists for administrators who need continuing education. The approval process is
similar; however, it would be processed through the CMU Educational Leadership Department.
(S. Horgan, personal communication, March 13, 2009). Further information about the
development and format of a syllabus, the Course Submittal Form and other pertinent
information can be found at www.cel.cmich.edu/4educators/ddpd .
Madonna University offers another program that converts activities that normally earn
SB-CEUs and converts them to graduate credit at a reduced cost. For every 15 hours of activity,
one graduate credit can be earned for approximately $150. The activities must not be directly
related to job requirements, and a paper must be written for each activity. More information can
be found at http://www.madonna.edu/pages/EDUPDP.cfm.
Programs such as the ones offered by CMU and Madonna University allow for graduate
credit to be earned, which may or may not be a factor when a teacher is renewing their
certificate. If they are interested in reaching the MA+30 pay scale, they may opt for the credit.
However, they can simply pay a fee for SB-CEUs to be recorded if they are not. Starting later
this year, the state is offering an improved tracking system for SB-CEUs, which can be found at
http://www.solutionwhere.com/mi_sbceu/welcome.asp. Teachers can also go to
http://www.michigan.gov/mde/0,1607,7-140-6530_5683-219674--,00.html to see a list of all the
activities which qualify for SB-CEUs.
The final piece is getting any workshops offered by the district approved for SB-CEUs.
The primary method for approval is by using Oakland Schools, the county ISD. At this point the
district can promote any training offered throughout the year and in the summer under one or
more of these umbrellas. Again, providing a financial incentive in the form of low-cost tuition
and the ease of taking the courses at work should attract the teachers. Aligning the courses and
workshops to be offered year-round will provide ample time for reflection, transfer, and
collaboration. Shifting the time at which the trainings are offered shifts the burden away from
the professional development days during the school year. The end result should be win-win for
all the parties involved in overcoming the obstacles to training.
The first year of the program will not be free of problems. The stakeholders involved
should stress to the staff that this is an iterative process and will take time to streamline. The
administration will work to gain staff confidence by offering multiple ways to provide feedback
for improvement, giving staff a voice to direct their own professional development.
Level 1 – I’d call this Teacher Reaction
After each course or workshop, a simple “smiley face” survey will be administered. It
will contain the usual questions about the quality of instruction, the length of the training, and the
usefulness of the material in a Likert-scale format. In addition to these questions, an open-ended
section will include areas where participants can offer suggestions for improving the course and
ideas for future workshops. Data from the Level 1 evaluations will serve to improve the delivery
of the course in the future and assist in the conversion of the workshop to an online format,
where applicable. The data from the open ended questions can be triangulated with the results of
the needs assessment to set the agenda for future courses.
Level 2 -- I’d call this Teacher Skill Development
The Level 2 evaluation will occur on several levels. For courses designed as graduate
for-credit courses, the grade will serve as an indicator of learning and objective achievement. In
the case of the CMU courses, the assessments and grades must be tied to specific outcomes.
Therefore, if the participants have earned an acceptable grade, they have met the objectives. For
the workshops, many of the objectives will revolve around the creation of an artifact and
registering an account with a service (e.g., Google Docs, Delicious, etc.). The teachers will get
their “stamp” for the CEUs when they show the trainer that they have successfully created all of
the required elements.
Level 3 -- I’d call this Transfer to Classroom
To measure transfer for many of the objectives in the first year, one would simply need to
view the tools being used. For example, to see if the participant is blogging, the evaluator can
visit the blog and see if they are indeed blogging about educational topics. In addition, small
surveys asking if they are still using the tools the year following the initial training can be
distributed to the participants. Other measures of transfer will be more anecdotal in nature. As
an example, administrators collect all of the end-of-course exams. Instead of emailing a file or
handing in a paper copy, staff could simply add them as a collaborator on the tool they are using
to create the exam.
You need a Level four – affect on district, morale, turnover, teacher quality, learning, etc.
In theory, this plan addresses many of the obstacles that staff and administrators face
when it comes to technology professional development. As an extension, this process could be
expanded to areas outside of technology. Furthermore, it can also act as a motive force in
changing the culture of the professional community in a school district from one of top-down
delivery of what administration “thinks” the staff needs to know to a collaborative process where
needs are met and accommodations are made to make sure those needs are met.
Abdal-Haqq, I. (1996). Making time for teacher professional development. Retrieved from
ERIC database. (ED400259).
International Society for Technology in Education. (2008). NETS for Teachers 2008. Retrieved
Knowles, M.S., Holton III, E.F., & Swanson, R.A. (2005). The adult learner: The definitive
classic in adult education and human resource development (6th ed.). Burlington, MA:
Licklider, B. (1997). Breaking ranks: changing the inservice institution. NASSP Bulletin,
Michigan Department of Education (2009). Professional Development and Mentoring
Legislation. Retrieved from
Michigan State Board of Education (2009). Office of Professional Preparation Services
Reference Manual. Retrieved from
Senge, P., Kleiner, A., Roberts, C., Ross, R., & Smith, B. (1994). The fifth discipline fieldbook:
Strategies and tools for building a learning organization. New York: Currency.
Zhao, Y. (2009). Catching up or leading the way: American education in the age of
globalization. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.