Planning and preparing for professional development (PD) can be stressful and time-consuming. The last thing you want from your session is for teachers to walk away thinking “that could have been an email.” There are many articles, books, and videos available that provide ideas and suggestions on creating engaging and interactive PD. Let’s take it a step further. Let’s talk about ways to utilize data to drive PD sessions.
Use Data to Inform Upcoming PD
There are many ways to gather and use data as you begin planning for upcoming PD opportunities. Below are three ways to inform your upcoming PD using data:
- Coaching Trends
As a coach, you can utilize coaching trends (check out our post on You’ve found Coaching Trends in Your Data… Now What? for strategies on finding coaching trends) from around your campus to identify the purpose of the meeting. Find priority needs based on coaching trends and research best practices, teacher supports, student supports, and strategies that would benefit teachers on your campus. As coaches, we can do the research for the teachers, and then break it down into bite-sized chunks for teachers to easily digest in a short amount of time. Coming into a PD session with teachers and sharing the purpose (data trends), followed by the research (bite-sized chunks), along with implementation strategies (based on research), will provide the what, why, and how for the session.
- Teacher Surveys
Surveys are also a great way to determine future PD topics. Tools such as Survey Monkey and Google Forms allow you to quickly record teacher responses and analyze the data. By asking a combination of open-ended and multiple-choice questions, you can gauge teacher needs and requests for support. Within your survey, you can also ask teachers for their preference on the format of the PD (in-person, virtual, self-paced, book study, etc.). As you begin preparing your teacher survey, be prepared to deliver a PD based on the teachers’ responses. In other words, if teachers have the choice to do a book study, make sure that you have books on the topic ready to go and that the time/space is available for a book study to take place (this is usually a multiple-week endeavor).
Example Teacher Surveys: Google for Edu Coaches Curriculum – Beginning of Year Survey or Google for Edu Coaches Curriculum – Onboarding Survey
- Student Data
Utilizing student data to determine PD needs can have a big impact on your school. This data can come from assessments (i.e. Core Phonics Survey), IEPs (i.e. servicing Autism Spectrum Disorder), behavior referrals, truancy, and so on. Similar to coaching trends, it is important to spend time analyzing the data to determine areas of need. When student data is driving your PD, it is important to share the data and the findings with teachers to get their buy-in. Just be sure to remove teacher and student names (or any information that would breach confidentiality).
Use In-the-Moment Data During a PD
During a PD session, there are many opportunities for you to gather data and provide on-the-spot differentiation. One way to collect quick data is to take a room pulse. Take a few minutes to ask teachers what their comfort or expertise on the upcoming topic is. This can be used to determine if a deeper dive of content is needed, or if there are components of the training that can be skipped. Room pulses can be done on Google Slides, Pear Deck, Nearpod, Jamboard, post-it notes, or any other resource that allows for quick responses. You can take multiple room pulses throughout your session.
Quick surveys are another way to gather data during a training session. Using dot stickers on chart paper, teachers can place their dots on a graph to indicate their understanding of a question or theme. Quick surveys keep teacher responses confidential while creating a quick visual of the group’s understanding of the content. This can be utilized to shift the direction of your PD (similar to how you would make shifts using quick pulses).
Overall, any formative assessments can be utilized to gather data and adjust PD similar to how formative assessments are utilized in the classroom to adjust lessons.
Use Data to Build Coaching Cycles After a PD
Take your PD to the next level by making it ongoing. Survey teachers at the end of a PD session to see where additional support is needed. Based on the survey results, reach out to individual teachers and see if they would be interested in engaging in a coaching cycle with you. The goal would be to personalize the learning journey for the teachers that you are supporting. In coaching cycles, you can meet teachers where they are and support them in implementing the research-based strategies that you demonstrated or presented in your session.
“One-and-done” PDs are not nearly as effective as ongoing training and support throughout the year. Set the tone for teachers at the beginning of each PD session to let them know that you plan to work directly with teachers in coaching cycles to follow up on the training. This not only demonstrates that the topic for the PD is important, but it also shows that you are prioritizing the topic through ongoing support. Create a collaborative space where teachers are amenable and open to engaging in coaching cycles.
Track the number of teachers who choose to engage in coaching cycles after each PD session. This will help determine what worked and what didn’t work in future sessions. This data can also be utilized to create coaching goals.
Data should drive professional development just like it drives coaching cycles. Let’s take our PD to the next level by utilizing data before, during, and after each session!