How to differentiate professional development (and why you’d want to!) The Growing as an Instructional Coach Series
Professional development can be life-changing or positively groan-worthy. If you have sat through any redundant or irrelevant PDs, you know this is true.
The worst part of this: teacher time is our most valuable asset and should be protected! Teachers are too busy to sit through PD that isn’t meeting their needs.
The more time teachers spend in crummy or irrelevant professional development, the worse their PD attitude gets. I’ll be the first to admit: I developed a bad PD attitude!
Over time, poor PD can actually create a pretty negative climate on your campus because it doesn’t meet teacher or student needs.
So how can you best meet the needs of teachers on your campus through PD differentiation? Here are four different ways!
1. Start by figuring out what the needs are.
There are a couple of ways you can do this. You can send out a survey, asking teachers what areas they’d like to grow in, or you can do a sweep of classroom visits and notice trends.
2. Offer a couple different book studies.
On our campus, we tried offering differentiated book studies. I ran a literacy study, the math/science coach hosted one on number sense, and the interventionist/dyslexia teacher ran one on primary literacy. Our principal and AP even offered one about management strategies! This way, teachers could sign up for the book study that they found most relevant to their classroom work.
3. Split and flip.
This works best when you’ve got another faculty member who will offer teacher training at the same time you will. If you have a day or a half-day inservice, divide the time and faculty in half, or along appropriate lines for your purpose. You take the first group and train them in something relevant. The other trainer takes the second group and trains them in something relevant. Then you flip the faculty, and provide a different training so you actually meet their needs. Check out the example below.
4. Differentiate materials.
Sometimes you’ve got a big group and no way to split them up. They need training in a similar area, but the work they have to do isn’t exactly the same. In that case, try differentiating materials. For example, in a K-5 guided reading training, you might have teachers…
– read an article
– watch a video
– work with some guided reading books
– do a sorting activity of reading strategies
In this case, you can differentiate the article to be relevant to different grade levels.
You can differentiate the video to demonstrate different reading levels or strategies.
You can differentiate the guided reading books to reflect the levels of the kids teachers will actually work with.
You can differentiate the strategies on the cards to be relevant to the reading levels.
Just like in your classroom, teachers can participate in similar activities but get information that actually helps them in their work.
This is a really fun way to showcase teacher strengths while valuing the different needs of teachers. I wrote about this extensively in last year’s instructional coaching series. Head over to check it how to host a teacher conference, but not before you enter the giveaway!
Want free tools for planning professional development? Learn about conducting a needs assessment, the PD planning checklist, and engaging activities for teachers to participate during PD!
Great ideas! Thanks for sharing. The struggle is real!
I am planning a book study/PD once a month at our vertical articulation meeting and am so excited–I have differentiated the focus question for each grade level group. I like the differentiation of materials idea–that could be like blended learning for adult learners.
Great ideas! I love the split and flip idea. I am working with an EL coach this year, and I think this would be beneficial to our time and the teacher's time.