Relevant Accountability

One thing that I don't do a very good job of is follow up with our staff. It's something I know and have been working to correct. There are many reasons why, but I need to get over those reasons (and it doesn't matter for this post anyway).

During our weekly curriculum & technology meeting, one of our curriculum directors (new to us this year) said "how do you know that your PD worked?" He's said this to me before, but today it hit me a little different. How do I know if it made a difference? How is that measured? I can do a really good training, I can sit and teach you to do almost anything, but how often do I go back and follow up with you? Does your administrator? Department head? Continual professional development is key to anything you want to be successful, but our district, including me, rarely does that with technology. We have a professional development day every month. The morning is typically group workshops/meetings/goal planning, etc. The afternoon has long been set aside as "time to work in your room." I typically have at least one, usually multiple, trainings on that day. But rarely does one month relate to the next.

Something I heard about at EdCamp Des Moines was "sandbox time" where teachers take the afternoon (maybe not the whole afternoon...) of a staff development day and work by themselves or with a group to create a product related to the morning meeting. Staff "experts"* are on hand to help with that process. That product is shared with an administrator at a later date. As I was thinking about my morning meeting throughout the day today, I kept coming back to "relevant accountability" - we need to hold teachers accountable for the PD that they attend, but it has to be relevant to their classroom, preferably relevant to instruction they are doing within the next 10-20 days**.

We are having a couple technology-related "mini-conferences" this year with our junior highs and one of our high schools. Their exit ticket, which they will need to return to their principal before leaving for the end of the day, is going to have relevant accountability - what did you learn that you will use in your classroom? Then I need to make sure I hold up my end of the bargain.

*Experts could include department heads, student tech group (suggested at the high school today), Instructional Tech Facilitator, etc.

**I pulled a range out of my head. My thinking was the amount of instructional days between our professional development days. I'm not stuck on that range.