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Running head: FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE

From the Inside – Out: A Study of the Current State of Professional Development for

Educators in One District.

by

Cynthia Settecerri
Birmingham Public Schools

Anthony Stamm
Ann Arbor Public Schools

Oakland University

Lindson Feun, Ph.D


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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Acknowledgements 5

Abstract 6

Chapter 1: Introduction
Overview 7
Background and Rationale 9
Assumptions 10
Limitations 11
Research Questions 12

Chapter 2: Review of the Literature


Overview / Introduction to Action Research Topic 13
Summary 18

Chapter 3: Method of Study


Overview 20
Selection of Subjects 21
Research Design 21
Description of Instruments 23
Data Analysis 25
Summary 25

Chapter 4: Results of the Study


Overview 27
Triangulation of Data 27
Discussion of Results 29
Teacher Survey Responses 30
Administrator/Principal Responses 42
Central Office Responses 51
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Chapter 5: Conclusions and Recommendations


Conclusions 56
Recommendations 57
Implications for Future Research 59

References 60

Appendices
Appendix A: Letter of consent - Deputy Superintendent 63
Appendix B: Letter of consent – Coord. for Professional Learning 64
Appendix C: Letter of consent - Birmingham Administrators 65
Appendix D: Letter of consent - Birmingham Colleagues 66
Appendix E: BPS Central Office Administrative Survey 67
Appendix F: BPS Teacher Survey 69
Appendix G: BPS Administrative Survey 80
Appendix H: Survey Responses from Teacher Survey - What is Going Well 89
Appendix I: Survey Responses from Admin. Survey - What is Going Well 94
Appendix J: Survey Responses from Teacher Survey – What is not Going Well 95
Appendix K: Survey Responses from Admin. Survey - What is not Going Well 102
Appendix L: Survey Responses from Central Office Survey 103
Appendix M: Tables from Teacher Survey 110
Appendix N: Tables from Administrative Survey 116
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Acknowledgements

Special thanks to former Birmingham Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Daniel Nerad and

current Deputy Superintendent, Rachel Guinn, Ed. S., for their support in allowing us to review

the current state of professional development and being open to the feedback provided by the

teachers and administrators.

Thanks as well to our colleagues and administrators in Birmingham Public Schools for taking

their time to complete our surveys and their willingness to be involved in dialogue around the

current state of professional development in our district.

A sincere thank you to Cynthia’s father, Paul DeHorn, for his diligent proofreading of this paper.

Thanks to the Birmingham Public Schools’ Board of Education, for the resources and support to

provide any necessary changes needed to improve teaching and learning for all staff and

students.

Finally, thank you to, Lindson Feun, Ph.D., Instructor at Oakland University, for his support and

knowledge to help with a successful action research project.


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Abstract

Using the Birmingham Public Schools in Oakland County, Michigan as a backdrop,

researchers, who are both Instructional Specialists, set out to determine the effectiveness of the

professional development that is currently in place. This action research was conducted to find

whether the practices of professional development effectively supports adult learners, whether

the professional development supported improvements in student learning and if transfer from

professional development was being observed in the classroom. Teachers, building

administrators, and central office administrators were surveyed to triangulate perception data

through Likert scales and open-ended response questions. This study found that there are

various holes in the current state of professional development and more importantly identified

discrepancies between administration and teachers in the beliefs and structure of adult learning

through professional development. Recent research suggests that professional development

needs to lead to learning, as defined by Katz & Dack as a “permanent change in thinking and

behavior.” Improved outcomes will require educators at all levels of a district system to examine

and question their beliefs about the effectiveness of the different teaching strategies that they are

facilitating learning around or implementing in the classroom. Suggestions were made to

increase the use of known standards of professional development, continue to refine the use of

The Learning Center and Pathways, and to increase flexibility and individuality of professional

development to help create this change for leaders as well as teachers.


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Chapter 1

Introduction

Overview

Birmingham Public Schools (BPS) is a school district located in the southern portion of

Oakland county. The district is comprised of eight traditional elementary schools (K-5), one

third through eighth grade building, two traditional middle schools (6-8), and two traditional

high schools (9-12). The district also houses a preschool program, an early childhood special

education program, and a post-secondary program. As of the 2016-2017 school year,

Birmingham had 8,122 students enrolled in grades Kindergarten through twelfth grade.

According to mischooldata.org, Birmingham public school’s staffing count is reported at 2,172

staff members. Of this number, approximately 630 of the staff members are certified teachers

requiring professional development in order to maintain their teacher certification.

During our tenure at Birmingham Public Schools, we have offered extensive

opportunities for professional development both during the school day as well as after hours to

offer enough hours for teachers to maintain their certification but also to explore their passions. It

is because of these opportunities and the way that professional development, sometimes referred

to as professional learning, is offered in the Birmingham Public Schools. During this study, the

researchers plan to look at the offerings, the way that opportunities are provided, and the

decisions that influence the type and variety of professional development that the district

provides.

Birmingham Public Schools and the Birmingham Education Association (BEA) have

worked collectively for many years to define and determine how and what professional learning
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should be offered. The structural frame is noticeable here because both sides are reacting to the

restraints placed on it by the State of Michigan in teacher certification renewals but also in how

negotiations are done between the district and the union. Negotiations have brought the two

sides to the table many times with professional learning and its offerings often a piece in the

bargaining of the new contracts. Through these negotiations, the idea of professional learning

has become very politicized in both how and when it will be offered. During negotiations, the

BEA often bargains from within the human resource frame, intentionally focusing on the purpose

of increasing human capital and receiving an increase in the dollars that are spent to improve on

that capita. One pilot program which was negotiated, offers a small number of online courses

entitled “Pathways,” housed on an online program called The Learning Center (TLC). These

courses were developed to be offered to teachers during the 2017-2018 school year. Through the

structural frame, the two sides create certain days of the year when and how teachers will receive

professional learning as provided by the school district in order to maintain their teacher

certification and advance district goals. In reflecting on how the symbolic frame impacts

professional learning in the Birmingham Public Schools, the tone is set in the ideals that what is

most important is not what happens but what it means (Bolman and Deal, 2017, p. 241).

Professional learning has often been viewed as a means to an end, attainment of a teacher

renewal, not always as an opportunity to improve and hone the teachers craft or to see greater

improvement in student learning. Though both are goals that are openly stated by the district and

the union, the actions and structure of professional learning often seem to indicate otherwise.

As Instructional Specialists in Birmingham Public Schools, deciding what topic to study

was easy to choose because part of our work involves providing and receiving professional

development. Additionally, we have a desire to review the present practices within our district
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and compare those practices to current research while providing meaningful experiences for

teachers. Knowing what expectations are held for professional development and the robust

opportunities that the district provides, we felt that taking the time to dig into the current practice

of professional development would be beneficial on several fronts. First, the district's

professional learning committee is in the process of developing a new system and format for

offering professional learning. Our research could play a vital role in the development of these

offerings and future success of this committee's work. Second, teachers are spending more time

participating in professional development due to the increase in demands of the teaching

profession and district initiatives. We wondered if these increases were evident in the teachers’

practice and as a result an improvement in student learning and achievement. We believe that

professional learning can be improved, and when accomplished, the result will be seen as a

measurable increase in student learning.

Background and Rationale

Teachers are often asked to do more with less. Districts are being inundated from all

sides with varying demands and state legislation to improve student learning. However, are we

really doing as well as we can as an organization? We are continuing to offer professional

development for educators the way it has been done for years. Jeff McCoy (Smith, 2016, p. 48)

notes the irony that “we preach to teachers about providing hands on, engaging instruction to

students - and we do it by lecturing to them for 50 minutes!” Are educators happy with the way

that they have been receiving professional development for so many years or is a change needed?

“Twenty-first century teachers need professional development (PD) that is personalized, flexible

and embedded in classroom practice.” (Smith, 2016, p. 46) Districts are being forced to reduce
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budget expenditures which has the effect of reducing professional development of teachers. We

noticed that teachers often spend a lot of time outside of their classroom engaged in professional

development. Which led us to wonder, does teachers’ time outside of the classroom have a

detrimental effect on student learning? In addition to this point, if teachers are engaged in such a

large amount of professional development, is this learning transferring to their classroom

instruction? Because professional development does in fact take time away from classroom

instruction, we questioned how often the district and building administrators monitored the

transfer of professional development to the classroom. This led us to then question, how do you

measure transfer of professional development into the classroom and how do teachers perceive

this transfer based on what is offered and how they learn best?

Now, more than ever, there is a need to focus on a different kind of professional learning.

One that will help our teachers make true pedagogical shifts in their practice. (Smith, 2016,

p.47) We are interested in discovering whether the practices that are taught and shared during

professional development are transferred to a teacher's regular classroom instruction. If not, then

what recommendations can we provide, based on current research, to observe an increase in

transfer of professional development into teachers’ practice? We also surveyed staff members

regarding the types of professional learning experiences they deemed best in having a connection

to improved instruction leading to increased student engagement and ultimately increased

achievement. The term, professional development, is used in Chapter 1, 3, and 4 of the study

because it describes the current state in Birmingham Public Schools. Because Chapter 2 & 5,

describe current research and recommendations for change, the term, professional learning, is

used to reflect a shift in adult learning.


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Assumptions

1. The respondents surveyed will understand the language of the instrument, will be

competent in self-reporting, and will respond objectively and honestly.

2. Interpretation of the data collected accurately reflects the intent of the respondents.

3. The teachers involved in our research project will feel the same as we do.

4. The district is interested in improving professional development for teachers and

administrators.

Limitations

1. One limitation is that the results of the study cannot be generalized to other districts since

the study focused only on the Birmingham Public Schools.

2. Majority of the responders were Kindergarten through fifth grade teachers. This is a

limitation because in our roles as Instructional Specialists we are more well known in the

elementary schools.

3. If respondents were unable to complete the survey in one attempt, there was no way for

them to save their completed portion in order to resume later; thus, respondents may have

been counted more than once.

4. The survey was available to all staff members in the Birmingham Public Schools,

however without capturing additional demographic information, we were unable to

determine what buildings and subject areas had representative data.

5. The survey was sent out electronically (Google Form) to teachers in the district’s created

distribution lists. If a teacher does not check email or is not proficient in the use of

technology, they may choose to not participate in the survey.


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Research Questions

1. How does the current structure of Birmingham Public Schools model quality professional

development that supports teachers through implementation of researched based adult

learning?

2. How does Birmingham Public Schools current structure of providing professional

development support teachers in the demonstration of how to facilitate best practices into

their classroom?

3. In what ways does Birmingham Public Schools measure the success and transfer of

professional development and its impact on student learning?


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Chapter 2

Review of the Literature

Overview/Introduction to Action Research Topic

According to Michigan Law, teachers are required to attend at least 150 hours of

professional learning every five years in order to renew their teacher certification. Teachers new

to the profession are also required to receive an additional 90 hours of professional development

outside of the school day. These can be additional professional development offered by the

district or through designed college programs. The latter used to be the primary way that

teachers would receive their continuing education due to a previous law that stated college

credits were required. This law has since been overturned and enrolling in a college program is

no longer required. As a result, districts have the responsibility to offer professional

development to educators each year and an increased responsibility to provide the additional

opportunities for new educators.

District leaders and policymakers are always looking for effective professional learning

opportunities that will not only help shift teacher practice in the classroom, but also provide

important strategies to students that need to be prepared for further education and work in the

21st century. Teachers need to be able to employ sophisticated forms of teaching in order to help

students master challenging content, problem-solving skills, as well as effective communication

and collaboration. School districts also must grapple with how they can induct new staff and

provide them the needed professional learning that other staff had received previously. Research

has identified key features and rich descriptions of models that inform education leaders about

leveraging professional development to improve student learning.


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Effective professional development should be a structured professional learning that

results in changes in teacher practices and improvements in student learning outcomes. Listed

below are some of the common themes that cross multiple research studies and support

professional development of teachers:

Is content focused – it focuses on teaching strategies associated with specific curriculum content

that support teacher learning. Helping teachers to understand more deeply the content

they teach, and the ways students learn the content is a vital dimension of effective

professional development.

Incorporates active learning – engaging teachers directly in designing and trying out teaching

strategies through active learning and providing them an opportunity to engage in the

same type of learning they are designing for their students. This type of PD uses

authentic artifacts, interactive activities and other strategies to provide deeply embedded,

highly contextualized professional learning.

Supports collaboration – high quality PD creates space for teachers to share ideas and

collaborate in their learning, which often include job-embedded contexts. By working

collaboratively, teachers can create communities that positively change the culture and

instruction.

Uses models of effective practice - Curricular models and modeling of instruction provide

teachers with a clear vision of what best practices look like. It is helpful for teachers to

be able to view models that include lesson plans, unit plans, sample student work

observations of peer teachers, and video or observations of colleagues.


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Provides coaching and expert support – coaching and expert support involved the sharing of

expertise about content and evidence-based practices, focused directly on the individual

needs of teachers.

Offers feedback and reflection - high quality professional learning provides built-in time for

teachers to think about, receive input on, and make changes to their practice by

facilitating reflection and soliciting feedback.

Is of sustained duration - effective PD provides teachers with adequate time to learn, practice,

implement, and reflect upon new strategies that facilitate changes in their practice.

Darling-Hammond, Hyler and Gardner (2017), Rodman (2018), Stewart (2018) and Lockwood

(2018).

Another consistently noted characteristic is the promotion of collegiality and

collaborative exchange. (Guskey, 2003, p.748) Educators at all levels value opportunities to

work together, reflect on their practices, exchange ideas, and share strategies. Connecting

teachers, especially new ones, with their colleagues who can serve as mentors and model practice

not only strengthens the experience for teachers, but also enriches the quality of instruction for

students. Hirsh & Crow (2017) noted that in Learning Forward’s (2011) Standards for

Professional Learning, “educators learning in community is a key structure for addressing many

of the common problems in traditional models of teaching and learning.” (p.5) It also helps to

create the needed support among teachers that commonly teach in isolation. The key to

professional learning communities is their commitment to continuous improvement, collective

responsibility, and goal alignment.

Research indicates that collaborative learning puts teachers in constant structured

communication with one another, offers a consistent and reliable means for teachers to find
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support, solve problems, and grow as a result of working with expert peers. Most importantly,

learning collaboratively helps teachers change their teaching practices. Working with a

knowledgeable partner in a safe environment allows colleagues the opportunity to pose

questions, examine strategies and fine tune what works best with students. (Hirsh & Crow, 2017)

Research also notes that professional development needs to be personalized, flexible and

embedded in classroom practice. Teacher leaders have found the need to offer hands-on,

engaging and just in time professional learning. It has become essential to open classrooms as

learning labs for other teachers to learn and observe. Job-embedded professional learning

(JEPL) is teacher learning that is grounded in day-to-day teaching practice and is designed to

enhance teachers’ content specific instructional practices with the intent of improving student

learning. This type of professional development is primarily school, or classroom based and is

integrated into the workday. It consists of teachers assessing and finding solutions for authentic

and immediate problems of practice as part of a cycle of continuous improvement. JEPL is a

shared, ongoing process that makes a direct connection between learning and application in daily

practice. This requires active teacher involvement in cooperative, inquiry-based work. JEPL

activities include designs such as mentoring, coaching, lesson study, action research, peer

observation, and examining student work. Professional learning communities (structured time

for teachers to come together and discuss issues of teaching practice and student learning) can

also be forums for job-embedded professional development. (Croft, Coggshall, Dolan & Power,

2010, p. 2)

Job-embedded professional learning also opens doors for sharing best practices through

twitter chats and Edcamps. Twitter chats have become a phenomenal source of information

highlighting best practices and innovative thinking about instruction. They have become the
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professional learning community that can be used as a mirror, window, and sounding board for

daily practice as a teacher or instructional coach.

Edcamps (unconferences) work by providing conversations that are the platform for

sharing information. Edcamps cultivate a space filled with choice and voice. A recent study on

teachers’ professional learning preferences indicate that teachers feel more supported in their

work and better prepared to support their students’ learning when they select some of their own

professional learning opportunities. (Howard, 2016) Edcamps continue to redefine professional

learning for educators around the world. This type of professional learning is empowering,

relevant and found to be extremely effective in changing teacher practice.

Research about how adults learn also should inform the design of any effective

professional development effort. According to the National Staff Development Council, adults

learn best when they are self-directed, build new knowledge based on preexisting knowledge,

and are aware of the relevance and personal significance of what they are learning. Therefore,

effective professional development should begin with an analysis of school needs in terms of

both student and teacher learning based on formative evidence of their performance. Powerful

and practical connections also can be made between district and school improvement plans and

job-embedded professional learning resulting in greater coherence across a school system.

Additionally, building effective collaborative learning cultures isn’t an easy task.

Districts need to take a look at a balance between teacher-led collaboration and guided systemic

improvement. This balance needs to include opening up classroom practice through classroom

observations, action research and team teaching. (Stewart, 2018)


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A major emphasis of professional learning in high-performing countries is teacher

research and inquiry. Stewart found a variety of inquiry approaches; including action research,

lesson study, and learning circles, allowing teachers’ roles to change from always being on the

receiving end of knowledge from research, and instead, being co-creators of this knowledge from

experiences within their own school or district.

Kallick and Zmuda (2017) also include teacher’s voice as an important consideration

early in the professional learning design process. They define voice as the learner’s

“involvement and engagement in ‘the what’ and ‘the how’ of learning early in the learning

process”. Envisioning the future of personalized and impactful professional learning requires

that we step away from one-size-fits-all, “sit and get” professional development, but it also

demands more than just teacher choice and voice. Realizing improved outcomes for all students

requires that professional learning makes a difference when it results in permanent changes in

thinking and behavior.

Hargreaves & Fullan (2012) believe that professional development should include “high-

yield strategies” that become more precise and more embedded when they are developed and

deployed in teams that are constantly refining and interpreting the results found from

implementing them. This can only result from in-depth collaboration.

Summary

Learning Forward (an organization working to advance professional learning for student

success) claims there are seven important standards for effective professional learning. These

seven components are woven into the research analysis referenced above.
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When professional learning involves:

• working in a learning community committed to continuous improvement

• skillful leaders who develop capacity and create support systems for further learning

• coordinating resources

• using a variety of data to plan, assess and evaluate teacher and student learning

• integrating theories, research and models of human learning

• applies research on change and sustains support for implementation

• aligns its outcomes with educator performance and student curriculum standards

it increases educator effectiveness and results for all students. “Because professional learning is

at the core of every effort to increase educator effectiveness and results for all students, its

quality and effectiveness cannot be left to chance.” (Learning Forward, 2011) When educational

leaders organize professional learning that aligns with these standards, and in turn educators

engage in professional learning to increase their effectiveness, the result should be an increase in

student learning.
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Chapter 3:

Method of the Study

Overview

The design and methods of the study were developed to generate data in order to review

the current practice of professional development in Birmingham Public Schools. The study’s

purpose was to take a closer look at the current state of professional development, transfer of

professional development into the classroom, ways to improve professional development based

on specific input and feedback provided by all stakeholders, and administration's view of

professional learning within the district. The primary focus of the research was to determine

whether the professional development that is offered by the district transfers to teachers’

instruction in the classroom. An additional focus of the study is to provide some

recommendations based on this research that the professional learning committee can consider as

they work within their circle of influence to affect how professional development is offered

within the district. Consent forms can be found in appendices A-D.

Selection of Subjects

Two hundred and forty teachers, preschools through post-high school, responded to our

survey from the approximately 630 (the response rate was 38%) certified educators who are

required to complete and document professional development in order to maintain their

certifications. Eighteen building administrators also took the survey which allowed them to

report their perceptions of professional learning and classroom transfer. Central office

administrators were surveyed individually with personal interviews by the authors of this study.
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These nine administrators included the Superintendent and members of his cabinet in addition to

key members of the instructional department and the President of the Board of Education for

Birmingham Public Schools. The participants were obtained through the survey found in

Appendix E and F that was sent electronically to district teachers and administrators of

Birmingham Public Schools. Per Michigan Law, teachers and school administrators are required

to obtain 150 hours of professional learning every five years to renew their teaching and/or

administrators' certificate. Teachers who hold a provisional certificate are required to attend an

additional ninety hours beyond the one hundred and fifty hours in their first three years of

teaching to renew their certification. Because professional development represents such a

substantial cost and time investment to the school district, we felt that a review of the current

system was needed to ensure that teachers’ needs were being met by the professional

development that is offered. Often the perception is that professional development is determined

by central office and building administrators as a response to various needs, therefore it was

important that their voice be considered when reviewing the professional development offered in

Birmingham Public Schools.

Research Design

Survey questions were created to ensure consistency of the surveys among teachers,

building and central office administrators. Once reviewed by Dr. Lindson Feun, Instructor at

Oakland University, the surveys were shared with the Deputy Superintendent, the Birmingham

Education Association President, and Professional Learning Committee to ensure

comprehensiveness. The process of conducting a comprehensive survey was approved by the

Birmingham Education Association President and school administrators to ensure that the survey
FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 21

questions were unbiased and non-leading. Additional measures were taken to ensure that the

surveys allowed participants to provide meaningful responses while maintaining a format that

would allow teachers to respond in a timely manner without taxing their time or endurance in

completing the survey.

Once the surveys were reviewed and piloted with limited participants it was created

digitally and shared via a link to teachers and administrators across the district. School

principals were given time to complete the survey by the Deputy Superintendent during a

principals meeting ensuring that most of the school administrators would be able to complete the

survey. The teacher survey was emailed to all buildings on or about January 9, 2018. Additional

attempts to have teachers complete the survey in order to get a reliable number of responses was

done until March 29, 2018 when the survey was concluded with 240 valid responses.

Personal interviews were then conducted with identified central office administrators (the

Superintendent of Schools, Deputy Superintendent for School Administration, Assistant

Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, and the Assistant Superintendent of Human

Resources, and other key instructional personnel) in March and April of 2018. In order to

increase the validity of the interview process, the same questions were used during all interviews

and the authors of this paper conducted all the interviews. The selection of administrators was

done to have a cross section of the district with members who played a vital role in the support

and determination of professional development provided to district teachers and administrators.


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Description of Survey Instruments

A voluntary, anonymous professional survey created using Google Forms was used to

gather the data for this research from the teachers. Section 1 of the survey was used to provide

the purpose of the survey and to request permission to complete the survey by posting Appendix

D and asking participants to continue if they agree. Once agreed, the participants were able to

take the survey (Appendix E). The survey was sent via email multiple times between the dates

of December 20, 2017 and April 6, 2018 to all teachers in the Birmingham Public Schools. In

Section 2, participants were asked to identify demographic information such as the grade level

they teach, the type of teaching certificate they hold, the number of years they have taught, and

approximately how many hours of district provided professional development they participate in

every year. In Section 3, teachers were asked about their preferences of professional

development. Questions included items like the number of hours of professional development

that they attend annually, how much is of their choosing, and whether it applies to their specific

role. Participants were also queried as to (1) whether their administrator would be supportive of

them attending professional development activities, (2) if they are asked to provide feedback

regarding professional development that they attended, and (3) whether they are asked about

application to their classroom instruction. Finally, in this section, teachers were asked if

additional compensation plays, or would play, a role in whether they chose to attend professional

development. This was phrased as a per hour pay and a pay increase in the form of a lane

change. The reason these questions were asked was based on conversations that have taken

place within the district about how to compensate teachers using a new professional development

system of micro credentialing and being able to provide feedback to the Professional Learning

Committee. In section 5, teachers were asked about their personal learning styles and how they
FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 23

best learn when participating in professional development. In particular, the question of the

group size was asked from individual/small group learning to large group/auditorium style

learning was best for them and how much of each type they participated in within the

Birmingham Public Schools professional development offerings. Section 6 asked teachers to

share their experiences in professional development that they have participated in that they felt

were particularly valuable and specifically those that they witness the most amount of transfer of

improved student learning back in to their classrooms. The last section, section 7, asked teachers

to provide open feedback about what was going well with professional development in

Birmingham Public Schools and what they felt needed to be improved.

School administrators completed their survey in January 2018 during a principal's

meeting at Central Office. The survey served as an opportunity to gather perception data from

each school administrator on their experiences with professional development and to gather

feedback on their teachers’ professional development experiences. Section 1 of the survey

served as a way to get permission for the survey data to be used in this research paper. In section

2, principals were asked demographic information including the following; years of experience

and the grade level that they supervise. Section 3 asked about current professional development

content that they have attended. They responded to what they have received for professional

development as leaders and how much personal choice was given during those sessions.

Questions in this section also asked about how feedback was collected from teachers who

participated in professional development. Section 4 asked about personal learning style to see

how principals generally preferred to participate in professional development. Section 5 asked

about a specific feedback that the administrators participated in and in what ways that

professional development was beneficial for them and their learning style. Finally, in section 6,
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there was an opportunity to collect open ended feedback on what is working well and what is not

working well in the current state of professional development in Birmingham Public Schools.

To triangulate our research data, we identified approximately eight central office

administrators and one School Board Trustee that we could interview in person. In order to

conduct consistent interviews, a set of questions (Appendix E) were established to be used for

the interviews. The first couple of interviews were conducted jointly as researchers to ensure

that our questioning and data collection would be consistent in our interview process. Interviews

were conducted in March and April 2018.

Data Analysis

The surveys were analyzed by looking at each of the Likert scale questions, assigning

them a value and ranking them in order by mean value. (% of each response for Likert scale was

computed using Google Forms) This was completed for both the principal survey and the teacher

survey. The results were reviewed and compared based on participants’ responses. The results

from the one-on-one interviews with central office administrators was entered into a document

and individual and collective responses were analyzed to look for commonality. Finally, all

open-ended survey responses were reviewed and analyzed looking for patterns and common

responses.
FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 25

Summary

Reponses regarding the current and desired state of professional development within the

Birmingham Public Schools were reached through surveys provided to teachers, principals and

district level administrators. The results of the survey were then analyzed to provide specific

feedback to the Teaching and Learning Department of Birmingham Public Schools and the

Professional Learning Committee. It is anticipated that the results would allow both groups to

make better decisions and provide improved professional development for the educators within

Birmingham Public Schools.


FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 26

Chapter 4

Results of the Study

Overview

In order to identify the current state of professional development in the Birmingham

Public Schools, surveys were conducted using an online survey site: www.google.com/forms.

We surveyed both certified teachers and school administrators with similar questions using the

online tool. Additionally, one-on-one interviews, related to the online survey questions, were

conducted with key central office administrators and the School Board President.

Triangulation of Data

Data used in this action research was collected from surveys given to teachers, school

principals/administrators and central office administrators. These three surveys were the only

sources of data that were collected and used for this research. Each survey included similar

questions so that it would be possible to triangulate data based on the responses given by the

respondents.

Data Source 1 - Teacher Survey

This survey was completed by over 240 teachers from around the district. The responses

contained various perspectives around professional development and offered a wide range of

opinions. Due to the large number of responses the discrepancies were not a major factor in the

results of this survey. Some of the limitations of this survey included the fact that we were
FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 27

unable to survey a representative number of teachers in middle and high school and thus had to

depend on a large percent of responses from elementary level. The fact that the researchers have

more day to day professional relationships and are more well known to elementary teachers may

have account for a greater percentage of elementary responses. While we offered a large

window for teachers to complete the survey, there were numerous ongoing surveys from the

district that may be limited responses to the professional development survey. As a result, the

willingness of the teachers could have varied when they were completing our survey.

Date Source 2 - Principal/Administrator Survey

In an analysis of this survey, we were able to conclude that the responses from the school

administrators provided an accurate representation of the school district. The principals

generally agreed at 50% or higher on most of their responses of the survey questions. This

demonstrated that there was some congruence in their perception of what our questions were

asking. From a review of the responses there seemed to be very little discrepancy in the

responses provided by the school principals. One limitation of this data was that when the

survey was given not all school administrators were present. Specifically, assistant principals

were not in the room when time was given to complete the survey. We had to rely on them

completing the survey at another time resulting in few responses.

Data Source 3 - Central Office Survey

This survey was completed in a one-on-one format with central office administrators. In

an analysis of the survey data, we found that responses varied depending on the role of the
FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 28

central office administrator. We found a few discrepancies among this survey’s responses. The

first being that the responses often varied in the use of the term “professional development” and

“professional learning” as though this terminology could be used interchangeably. The

responses to the survey questions varied greatly and made it difficult for researchers to identify

specific themes in the responses of the administrators. The primary limitation of this survey is

that it was limited time as we had to schedule time to speak with central office administrators

individually. Another limitation was that the interviews were split between two researchers so

there could have been some inconsistency in the way that questions were asked, and responses

were recorded.

Results

For the certified teaching staff and the school administrators, the surveys were very

similar in their structure to allow for comparison of the responses. Additional questions were

added to the surveys to support topics that were only used at the district level in supporting

professional development of staff and therefore were not analyzed in this research paper. The

results are divided into six sections that help to easily compare each part of the surveys given to

teachers and school administrators. Section 1 of the survey simply allowed for the staff and

administrators to learn about the Purpose of the Survey and provide an agreement to participate.

In section 2, the survey collected Demographic Information from participants including the

number of years they have been in the role as an educator or administrator, grade level(s) they

teach or support, and for teachers the type of certification that they hold that require professional

development for renewal. In section 3, the survey questions specifically asked about the type

and quality of professional development that is offered in Birmingham Public Schools. Section 4
FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 29

of the survey, the participants were asked to respond to questions about their Personal Learning

Style. This included perceptions of how they learned best and in what type of environment such

as in person, online, hybrid, large and small group learning were most beneficial. Section 5 asks

for the number of hours that teachers had received professional development in the last school

year and to reflect on a recent professional development experience. Finally, section 6 asks

respondents to provide open responses regarding professional development that is in place in the

Birmingham Public Schools. The questions were structured to elicit perceptions about what is

going well and not well with professional development in the Birmingham Public Schools. The

data from most of the questions were detailed in separate tables which can be referenced in

Appendix M (Tables for Teachers) and Appendix N (Tables for Administrators).

TEACHER SURVEY RESPONSES

Section 2: Demographic Information

We surveyed certified teachers and building administrators with a similarly structured

Google Form to gather information regarding current professional development. Section 2

gathered demographic information about respondents. Researchers received 244 responses

(approximately 38% of certified teaching staff) 18 responses (approximately 62% of

administrative staff) and 13 individual face-to-face responses (100% of central office staff).
FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 30

Figure 4.1 Demographic Information about Respondents

In a review of the data, most of our respondents were from the elementary level. The

researchers have built relationships with staff at this level and spend most of their day supporting

educators at this level, which might attribute to the higher percentage of response. Nevertheless,

the responses generally matched the representation based on percentage of the teachers at each

grade level across the school district.


FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 31

Figure 4.2 Teachers Years of Experience

Approximately 87% of our certified teaching staff are required to renew their certificate

every 3 - 5 years which includes required professional learning as well as opportunities to engage

in self-selected courses. Because 83% of respondents hold a standard teaching certificate or

professional teaching certificate, we gathered information on how much professional

development they participate in beyond the 30 required hours. (See additional Tables related to

this section in Appendix M)


FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 32

Section 3: Preferences of Professional Development

In section 3, we focused on whether teachers felt that the professional development

matched the needs that they had as educators and whether they were asked to provide feedback

on the professional development that they attended. The teachers were first asked about personal

choice in attending professional development. An overwhelming majority of teachers (82.3%)

felt that half or less of the professional development that they attend was a personal choice. We

knew that teachers had opportunities to attend professional development through the

Birmingham Public Schools, but we did not anticipate that teachers would feel that half or less

were choices that they made.

Another question that was posed during this research was whether the professional

development that teachers attended would meet their needs for their specific assignment.

Professional development is often offered by school, grade level or department. Prior to this

research study, we noticed that often staff members would be in professional development that
FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 33

was targeting learning that did not directly impact their role in the classroom. As an example,

Unified Arts teachers are often required to attend building staff development where little to no

discussion directly relates to their role but rather other content areas like reading or mathematics.

Our question was reaffirmed with almost 40% of the teachers responding that the hours they

attend in professional development do not directly apply to their specific role. Based on our

current practice only 7.8% of teachers feel that the professional development that they participate

in directly applies to their specific role.Another question that was posed during this research was

whether the professional development that teachers attended would meet their needs for their

specific assignment. Professional development is often offered by school, grade level or

department. Prior to this research study, we noticed that often staff members would be in

professional development that was targeting learning that did not directly impact their role in the

classroom. As an example, Unified Arts teachers are often required to attend building staff

development where little to no discussion directly relates to their role but rather other content

areas like reading or mathematics. Our question was reaffirmed with almost 40% of the teachers

responding that the hours they attend in professional development do not directly apply to their

specific role. Based on our current practice only 7.8% of teachers feel that the professional

development that they participate in directly applies to their specific role.


FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 34

The follow up to the previous question was whether administrators sought teachers'

feedback. A significant number of teachers reported that they were not asked to provide

feedback after attending professional development. The results showed that administrators asked

for feedback a little more than half of the time (50.2%). Even with feedback, principals and

other administrators failed to adapt their instruction to meet the needs of all staff through

professional development as noted in the previous question.

When questioned about whether the district followed up after professional development

around district supported initiatives occurred, 172 (70.8%) respondents didn’t think the district

had provided check-ins or follow up with additional learning to ensure transfer to the classroom.

Of the 244 teachers who responded to the survey only 31 felt that the district followed up after

providing professional development to ensure that the learning transferred to the classroom.
FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 35

Approximately 60% of respondents would be willing to attend professional development

outside of their contractual time if receiving a financial incentive. Approximately 70% of the

respondents felt an incentive in the form of a lane change would encourage them to attend

professional development outside of their contractual time. (See additional Tables related to this

section in Appendix M)

Section 4: Personal Learning Style

As Birmingham Public Schools continues to enhance the professional development that is

offered to staff, we felt that it was important to review the way that teachers would prefer to

learn so that appropriate professional development could be offered to meet their individual

needs. Upon review of the data from the questions about the size of groups that teachers wished

to learn 74.5% responded positively to learning in a small group compared to 19.7% who

preferred large sized groups for professional development sessions. The evidence was clear that

teachers preferred to learn in small groups (less than 10 learners) rather than large groups and

were generally split (57.2%) when asked about a medium sized group.
FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 36

Figure 4.3 Preferred Size of Learning Group

When asked about the type of learning environment that was preferred, teachers were

able to reflect on the following options: Face-to-Face, Hybrid, or Online. Looking at the number

of educators who disagreed with a specific type of learning, it was online that received the

largest percentage of dissatisfaction (29.6% disagreed). (See additional Tables related to this

section in Appendix M)
FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 37

Figure 4.4 Preferred Learning Environment – Teachers

Section 5: Professional Development Details/Transfer

Generally, at least half of the teachers in BPS participated in more than the required 30

hours of PD. An overwhelming response (82%) favored within the contractual school day as

their preferred option for when PD would be offered, which included opportunities for PD during

the contract day, during district-wide delayed starts and during district half days.
FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 38

Figure 4.5 Timing of the Professional Development Offered

When participants were asked about the format of the PD they selected to describe from

recent PD experiences, (37.4%) selected a large group format to reflect on their experience.

Very few participants chose online or hybrid participation. (32.5%) of teachers surveyed

confirmed transfer of the content or skills learned at this PD to their classroom. Many of the

participants (37.4%) recognized active learning during the PD and (18.9%) thought it was

present most of the time. Participants (70.2%) also confirmed that the PD they attended aligned

with their professional goals. Participants (79%) also saw alignment in the PD with the district’s

strategic plan. A selection of participants (56%) confirmed that this PD experience offered help

to deepen their content knowledge and (37%) of the participants recognized how this knowledge

and transfer back into their teaching made a link to student achievement. When asked which

format led to the most transfer of knowledge, skills and pedagogy to your teaching, (37%)

preferred small group format, (33 %) medium-sized group, (3.1%) large group, (9.1%) a
FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 39

combination of online and face-to-face, (14.4%) face-to-face and (3.1%) online only. (See

additional Tables related to this section in Appendix M)

Section 6: Feedback – Open Reflection

This section is comprised of the teacher’s open-ended responses. We analyzed all 245

teacher responses, trying to identify similar themes centered on what was going well and wasn’t

going well with PD in our district. Keep in mind that most responses were primarily from the

elementary level.

The first question dealt with what teachers reported as going well with PD. Many of the

participants (20%) liked the variety of professional development that the district has offered.

Teachers were encouraged by the new Pathways program, an online program that presented the

opportunity for teachers to complete professional development hours with several different focus

areas on their own time. Teachers appreciated the opportunity to be compensated for time

invested in these new Pathway courses as well as when completing a project with application to

their classroom work specifically with student outcomes in mind. Comments reflected a peaked

interest in this type of professional development because it was planned with a variety of teacher

input. They were also appreciative of the flexibility of providing continuing professional

development and collaboration about one specific topic and embedding teacher worktime into

the PD. Teachers also liked being able to practice strategies from professional development in

their classroom and return for follow-up learning within several cycles during the year. Job-

embedded opportunities were also reported as being a valued component of professional

learning. Participants appreciated the opportunities that the district provided to help with their

renewal requirements. Many of the participants enjoyed having fellow teachers as the facilitators
FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 40

of the content. Teachers were encouraged by the new Pathways program, an online program that

presented the opportunity for teachers to complete professional development hours with several

different focus areas on their own time. Teachers also had the opportunity to be compensated for

their time spent on these new pathway courses and well as a special incentive with additional

compensation when completing a project with application to their classroom work specifically

with student outcomes in mind.

The second question dealt with what teachers reported as not going very well with recent

experiences in professional development. Several of the participants (30%) responded with

comments that dealt with a “one size fits all” type of PD offering. Many comments referenced a

lack of differentiation within the professional development offered for teachers and itinerant

staff. As referenced in previous surveys, many felt that the district does not encourage PD

opportunities beyond our district offerings. In addition, if professional development is

encouraged and funded for staff members to attend PD outside of district offerings, there isn’t

any accountability to bring back learnings from these sessions. Another common complaint dealt

with a disconnect between the professional development and the inability to apply it in their

classroom due to lack of understanding. Many teachers were disappointed in the lack of choice

for PD. Teachers responses also referenced a lack of time for collaboration with fellow grade

level or content teachers. Teachers were also dissatisfied with the format of the professional

development. Responses referenced too much stand and deliver without opportunities for

discussions, connections or questions. Common themes included questions about: (1) the

appropriate time frame for specific professional development, (2) administrators and/or central

office thinking about a sense of urgency for specific professional development, (3) consistency
FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 41

across the district, (4) the lack of reflective practice, and (5) time for refining a teacher’s practice

in the classroom.

Many teachers made comments about the time that PD was offered. For instance, if PD

was offered during a late start session, there wasn’t time for reflection on how it might be

implemented in a classroom before rushing back to start a class minutes after the session had

ended. Many sessions were offered after school which didn’t always allow for all teachers to

participate. Many teachers were discontented with the content planned for the back to school

days. Many also commented on the lack of time allotted to professional learning communities

once new initiatives, curricular materials and district assessments were decided upon. Another

prevalent concern was a lack of feedback or follow through after PD sessions. The repetitive

content in professional development required from a district level was also expressed. (See

additional responses related to this section in Appendix H & J)

ADMINISTRATOR SURVEY RESPONSES

Section 2

School administrators were asked to determine the number of years that they have been

serving in their role as school leaders. The data showed that there was a distribution of

experience across the district. The one area where there was a large percentage was in the 13 –

18 years of experience where 50% of the group reported to have served as an administrator.
FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 42

Figure 4.6 Years of Administrative Experience

Section 3

In section 3 of the survey for administrators, we felt that it was important to gauge the

professional development that that administrators received. We wanted to know if they were

having their needs met as instructional leaders and whether the professional development that

they chose to attend was supported by the district. The first question asked whether

administrators received professional development that directly applied to their role as an

administrator and 77.8% felt that half or more of their professional development content applied

to their work.
FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 43

It is often said that the school administrator serves as the instructional leader of their

building. Therefore, teaching pedagogy should be an integral part of the professional

development that the administrators receive. So, we asked them how much of the time that they

spent in professional development helps them with teaching and evaluating pedagogy. Fifty-

percent of respondents felt that they rarely or sometimes spend time learning about pedagogy and

best practices.
FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 44

It was asked of the administrators whether they sought feedback from teachers after the

teachers attended a professional development activity provided by the district. Less than 80% of

the time, administrators rarely or in some instances asked for feedback. Only 5.6% of

administrators almost always asked for feedback after teachers attend district provided

professional development. It was asked of the administrators whether they sought feedback from

teachers after the teachers attended a professional development activity provided by the district.

Less than 80% of the time, administrators rarely or in some instances asked for feedback. Only

5.6% of administrators almost always asked for feedback after teachers attend district provided

professional development. (See additional Tables related to this section in Appendix N)

Section 4 - Personal Learning Style

Administrators were surveyed on their preferred preference of the group size that they

like to learn with. The results show that administrators prefer learning in a small group much

more than they do in a large group of 20+ members. Almost 90% of the respondents preferred to

learn in a medium sized group.


FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 45

Figure 4.7 Preferred Size of Learning Group – Administrators

Administrators were also surveyed on the mode by which they preferred to learn. They

were asked whether they learned best in face-to face situations, hybrid learning, or online

learning. The administrator's responses showed that they almost always or most of the time

would rather engage in face-to-face learning (66.6%). Over half of the group felt that online

learning was considered the least desirable learning environment. (see Figure 4.8 on next page)

(See additional Tables related to this section in Appendix N)


FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 46

Figure 4.8 Preferred Style of Learning – Administrators

Section 5: Professional Development Details and Transfer

Section 5 of the survey collected information on the details of the PD attended as well as

the transfer of knowledge and application for administrators as well as the teachers that they

oversee. Almost half of the administrators (44%) that participated in the survey reported

attending 15-20 hours of professional development offered by BPS staff members.

Approximately 72% of the administrators surveyed stated that most professional development

they attended in the district was offered during the school day. Some participants reported

having several required PD sessions to attend dealing with special education, 504 or evaluation

training which were provided outside of the district. Most of these professional development
FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 47

opportunities were offered in a large group format. 66% of the administrators stated they have

found that PD training has an impact on their daily work.

About half of the administrators believed that the professional development offered

promoted coherence with their individual goals, alignment with state standards and / or the

district’s strategic plan. Similarly, administrators (49%) thought the professional development

was linked to improving and deepening their content knowledge or was used to improve student

achievement. Administrators (61%) also stated that a small group PD format provided the most

knowledge/skills/pedagogy transferred back into the classrooms by their teachers. Additionally,

44% considered a medium sized group for professional development to be impactful as well.

Administrators were skeptical of the large group format making as much of a difference in the

teachers transfer to the classroom due to lack of participation and collaboration.

BPS does send teachers outside of the district to a variety of professional development

opportunities. We asked how administrators went about following up with teachers that had

attended outside PD. Many of administrators (38.9%) had an informal conversation after one of

their teachers had attended PD and 33.3% stated that teachers also had opportunities to share

their new knowledge at a staff meeting. Similarly, 83.3% of the administrators commented that

they have one-on-one conversations with teachers after they have attended a PD session. A third

of the administrators used a walkthrough to ensure transfer of the content/skill/pedagogy from

the PD sessions that were offered in the district and/or PD sessions that specifically focused on

the 5D+ Rubric for Instructional Growth and Teacher Evaluation (5D) training and application.

(See additional Tables related to this section in Appendix N)


FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 48

Section 6: Reflection – Open Feedback

Section 6 of the survey for administrators involved open response questions which

allowed the administrators to respond to what was going well with professional development

within Birmingham Public Schools and what was not going well. The respondents were

generally school administrators, not assistant principals as the assistant principals were not in the

meeting when the survey was completed. They were asked subsequently to complete the survey,

but many failed to do so. In order to review the data, we looked through the response to generate

themes in which the responses tended to align.

When asked to reflect on what was going well in the district, administrators identified the

following themes: (1) A variety of professional development, (2) available format options, (3)

content specific PD, (4) the district’s professional development catalog (5) access to experts, and

(6) available resources to support PD. Of these themes two were most often identified by

administrators to be what is going well in professional development.

The first of these themes receiving 16.7% of the responses was the variety of professional

development that the district offers. Several quotes from the survey reflected on “there being a

lot of PD opportunities for teachers” and “variety of topics” and “understanding of current

practices.” These responses also demonstrated that the variety of offerings that the district

provides through the Pathways model is valued by administrators in meeting the needs of

educators.

The second theme, also receiving 16.7% of the responses, was the format options of

offerings for professional development. Currently, the district offers professional development
FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 49

through several modes including; district-wide PD days, district early release days, pathways

which support several modalities for professional learning, opportunities through Oakland

Schools, and sending teachers to various trainings across the state and country when appropriate.

Some of the comments which administrators made to speak to the format options being a

strength for professional development included “offering face-to-face, blended, and online

options” and “I believe we do well at offering PD but could be better about follow up.”

The second question relative to what is not going so well in professional development

within the district allowed the administrators to share some areas that they felt could be

improved. Again, we looked through the responses to determine common themes embedded

within these responses. The negative themes were as follows: (1) PD is often not connected to

the strategic plan, (2) limited support for non-certified staff members, (3) too much time out of

the classroom/lack of subs, (4) not enough choice, (5) limited PD for administrators, (6) lack of

time for PD, and (7) lack of follow up on PD that is offered.

By far, the most common theme that was present in the administrators open response

feedback related to the time that teachers are out of their classroom and the lack of subs available

to support the work during the school day. This theme was present in 38.9% of the responses to

our survey and is often discussed throughout the district when sub shortages are felt in schools.

Principals reported that attending PD during the day is difficult, "The PD that is offered is

typically during the normal school day, which - in the context of a building administrator’s role -

makes attendance nearly impossible.” Several responded that “teachers out of the classroom” is

an on-going problem with professional development.

The next most frequently mentioned concerns of the administrators had to do with their

perceptions that PD is often not linked to the strategic plan and lack of follow up. These were
FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 50

both present in 11.1% of the responses given by administrators. Some administrators responded

by saying that professional development still feels “a mile wide and inch deep.” Another

administrator concluded that “If professional development was more closely aligned to the

strategic plan it wouldn’t feel so wide in its approach.” Another comment related to the strategic

plan was “the lack of professional development needed to close the achievement gap.” The lack

of follow up was also listed as a concern for what we are not doing well in Birmingham Public

Schools. Administrators responded that “we need to spend more time on follow up” and that PD

felt “disjointed and one and done.” (See additional responses related to this section in Appendix

I & K)

CENTRAL OFFICE SURVEY RESPONSES

Our information for central office surveys was collected through one-on-one interviews.

Our results showed some similarities, but also revealed some inconsistencies across the

departments at central office.

The first question which was posed to the central office staff related to how they monitor

the transfer of professional development of teachers to the classrooms. They suggested using

several different methods to ensure transfer of learning into the classroom. Within their

comments, the following methods were included: (1) learn then practice, followed by a feedback

loop; (2) primary belief of collective efficacy; (3) job-embedded; (4) results-based Professional

Learning; (5) providing choice (through the Pathways courses); (6) using instructional coaches to

follow up with classroom teachers; (7) individually spending more time in classrooms; (8)

aligning professional development with Learning Forward standards and 5D+ framework.
FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 51

The second question which was posed to the central office administration was how they

receive formal feedback following professional development sessions. In almost all of the

responses we received, it was agreed that formalized feedback wasn’t occurring after

professional development sessions presented through the Teaching and Learning Department.

The comments we received included: nothing structured, no system in place, no direct feedback,

any data collected wasn’t being used, and consistent feedback doesn’t occur. Many also

responded that “we should be considering a way to measure the overall quality and find a way to

evaluate the amount of transfer into the classroom.”

The next question in the survey to the central office administrators revolved around how

they measured the effectiveness of professional development that was offered. Due to the

varying and different types of professional development opportunities for Birmingham teachers

and administrators, responses varied depending on the experience that each administrator was

referring to. For instance, required professional development presented (to departments, grade

levels) required for certification, responses varied between unsure of any measurement to

specific ways to collecting feedback such as; exit tickets, surveys, analyzing student outcomes

and/or collecting student work as evidence of transfer to student learning. When referring to The

Learning Pathway that was created and offered primarily online, the response was that feedback

to the presenter and creator were included at the conclusion of each course.

The fourth question posed to the central office administrator asked who decides how

professional development is offered each year. The responses indicated a mix between being

district and building priorities driving professional development decisions. As expected, there

seems to be some competition for time and priorities between the Teaching and Learning

Department and what is needed at the building level. A bulk of the professional development
FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 52

offered to teachers that support district priorities takes place during the week before school starts.

This content is often based on the work of the district strategic plan, district improvement plan or

the school improvement plans.

The fifth question that was asked to central office administrators was to ask about how they

envisioned professional development occurring within Birmingham Public Schools and what

were some of the things going well and things that could be improved. The respondents

considered the Pathways courses (emphasizing choice and differentiation), inquiry-based,

collaborative work, literacy labs, site-based professional learning, research-based, reflective,

touching kids and limited areas of focus to be the type of professional learning that is going well.

We noted a shift in language from professional development to professional learning in the

responses we received.

Central office respondents were also asked about what wasn’t going well with professional

development. A common theme was that the feedback loop was missing as well as long term

strategies. There was lack of time to provide district professional development regarding new

initiatives and not frequent enough scheduled time to be used for building needs.

We also asked for what was currently in place and going well with professional development

within the district. Central office respondents gave several suggestions for things to consider:

providing ongoing professional learning with site-based support, drill down to focus on a few

initiatives, considering a balance between individual and district needs for adult learning, find a

way to ensure inspiring, motivating, nurturing and reflective professional learning that touches

our students.
FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 53

The sixth question that was presented to the central office administrators dealt with the cost

associated with offering professional development each school year. Of the several members

that we interviewed, only one of the respondents was able to give a dollar amount for the

expenses being used for professional development. Many of the respondents felt that the amount

for what would be offered for district professional development depended on the decisions of the

Assistant Superintendent, Teaching and Learning. There was a bit of discrepancy as to how

often the budget was reviewed. It appeared that considerations for budget use were typically

based the recommendations of the Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning.

When asked what considerations are made when determining how to spend district

dollars on professional development, we were told that the Board of Education approves an

instructional budget but does not dictate how to spend dollars. Some decisions are dependent

upon the hard and soft funds allocated to the Teaching and Learning department. Almost half of

the central office administrators referred to the expenses involved in paying for substitutes. A

cost analysis of paying subs versus paying teachers was also mentioned. Considerations for

amount of time for district vs. building needs as well as capacity building were mentioned by a

few. Considerations for value of large group vs. small groups with representatives from each

building were also mentioned. External focus and requirements from the state were mentioned

by two members of this central office team. Based on the responses, researchers were unable to

identify an exact dollar amount that is spent on professional development for staff on a yearly

basis.

In our eighth question, we asked what has been the most positive outcomes of the

professional development that is offered to teachers and school administrators. One response

indicated that “some professional development was aligned to the strategic plan.” Job-embedded
FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 54

professional learning (JEPL) and teacher labs were mentioned by half of the central office

administrators as being a positive aspect of professional development. Culturally Responsive

Teacher (CRT) professional development was mentioned as an example of a well-planned

district-wide professional development. Pathways was described as “nice way to think about

things differently and differentiate instruction for teachers.” One central office administrator

listed grade level meetings as a useful way to disseminate information at the beginning of the

school year. Central office staff were also involved in the Principal Learning Network (PLN) to

gather understanding of problems of practice across levels. One respondent mentioned finding

an avenue for informing the community about professional learning opportunities happening

across the district or at individual buildings. Several central office administrators mentioned

zeroing in on planning priorities for professional development as well as being intentional about

offerings.

The final question that was asked of central office administrators was to reflect on

possible areas of improvement for professional development within the district. About a third of

the respondents at the central office thought a change in the beginning of the year calendar for

professional development would be helpful and understood that this is a coordinated effort with

the BEA. They believe that instead of such a large amount of time spent in the week before

school it would be best to spread these days out across the school year. One respondent noted

that an increase of “coordination is needed to limit how much teachers are stretched” and another

noted that “more focus is needed with an increase in vertical alignment.”

Researchers received additional comments linked to areas of improvement for

professional development such as “professional development is blurred between actual

improvement and district priorities.” Several comments discussed the need to have more aligned
FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 55

professional development and to ensure that professional development allows for “follow-up,

more than just a one and done PD.” One administrator commented “Everybody is asking for

teacher’s time – how do we capitalize on that time and make it worthwhile when it comes to

planning PD. Is there a sense of urgency and just in time?” and are we doing enough to “focus on

good instruction that will lead to student achievement goals”

Finally, about a third of the central office respondents felt that a new teacher induction

program was lacking in our district. This includes questioning how we are circling back to

ensure learning is taking place. Of the many interviews, one respondent thought looking at the

passion of the teachers was critical. (See additional responses related to this section in Appendix

L)

Chapter 5:

Conclusions and Recommendations

Conclusions

The purpose of this action research was to determine whether professional development

in Birmingham Public Schools was supportive of teachers learning as determined by evidence

and researched based practices that best support adult learning. Additionally, we wanted to

identify whether the current structure of professional development supported teachers’ ability to

transfer the learning into their classroom and how or if this transfer was measured by the

organization. One conclusion that was recognized by both teachers and administrators was the

desire to change the way that we implement professional development as an organization. A

second conclusion indicated a lack of consistency in what stakeholders think PD should be.
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Research has indicated that to find the heart of teaching adults, learning about it doesn’t just

focus on the “how” of professional learning but more importantly the “why.” As research on

professional development has discovered, schools should offer teachers shared professional

learning experiences which focus on problems of practice, as well as assessing and reflecting

upon the effectiveness of different teaching strategies. These actions should structure and support

adult learning that leads to personalized professional learning experiences that are differentiated

to meet the needs of individual teachers.

The implementation of The Pathways for educators via The Learning Center has

potential to serve as a catalyst for change in the personalized professional learning experiences.

Additionally, coherence is also needed between the district improvement plan, school

improvement plans and job-embedded professional learning opportunities to allow for a

systematic approach to professional learning that is supported across the school system.

Supporting this type of professional learning environment would allow for increased

collaboration thus enabling teachers to learn from the great work of their peers without

reinventing the wheel. Therefore, teachers can support this work within the same system of

resources and with similar student cliental.

Although considerable attention has been devoted to defining what constitutes effective

professional development, teaching about learning as it relates to student outcomes has only

recently become a priority of investigation. Integration of pedagogical content knowledge,

assessment and understanding of how students learn is something that needs more attention in all

areas of education including this district. From a systematic approach, our research found that

this district is not presently equipped to adequately measure this integration. We are not yet at a
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place where we can measure the transfer of professional development to the classroom and its

impact on student achievement.

Recommendations

The results of this study indicate that though Birmingham Public Schools is on the

leading edge of providing some non-traditional options for professional learning there is still a

lot that needs to be done for the benefit of teachers and ultimately the students. The responses

from the central office personnel shows considerable differences in understanding of

professional development or professional learning. This can lead to a fragmented and

nonsystematic implementation of professional development for educators. A new framework

demands a clear understanding of the difference between professional development and

professional learning. Professional development is typically single-shot, one-size-fits-all

workshops for teachers based on the expertise of the individuals delivering the session.

Professional learning, on the other hand is: targeted and based on the specific learning needs of

the students and school community, individualized for the strengths and needs of the teachers,

grounded in the principles of adult learning theory, sustained and supported through

implementation with coaching and follow-up, and consistently monitored and assessed to

evaluate its impact on student learning and adjusted when necessary. If teachers and leaders are

going to develop in their profession, we must ensure that they see their own growth as

continuous, as opposed to a singular event.

Our first recommendation would be to develop a consistent framework for PL that all

stakeholders support. It would be important for central office stakeholders to have an awareness
FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 58

of what the Teaching and Learning department has determined as the focus for PD at each level

in a given school year. It would be important for all stakeholders to understand why and how

this focus was determined. Conversations with school leaders (administrators and instructional

support) involved in the planning, implementation and facilitation of this PD would help to plan

for consistency, needs assessment, school goals, district focus and ongoing assessment of

outcomes at the classroom level would be essential. Once the PD has been implemented, it is

important for administrators to be able to provide feedback to teachers regarding the impact on

their instruction and ultimately learning of students as well as teachers be able to provide

feedback on the quality of the PD.

This recommendation could be successfully implemented by reviewing professional

learning research about new practices which support adult learning. The professional learning

research evidence indicates that collectively looking at new learning can help an organization

recognize whether their professional learning experience is: 1. motivated by and connected to

changing the learning experiences of learners, 2. directly linked to a focus area, 3. related to the

understanding of why new ways of doing things are better than previous practices and 4. is

sustained and supported over time.

Another recommendation would be to charge our leadership team with taking an in-depth

look at the following: 1. learning more about ways of planning and implementing professional

learning around the standards for professional learning, 2. evaluating the impact of the learning

on learners, 3. building the conditions of trust within our system, and 4. acknowledging that

although opening up teachers’ practices may lead to more learning, this involves a major shift

from our current practice in our work around problems of practice within our classrooms.
FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 59

Finally, research does point to a shared collective inquiry approach as being the practice

that will yield the most coherence within a system to examine our current practices and explore

new productive possibilities (Timperley, Kaser & Halbert, 2014). This would be another

approach that we would recommend.

Implications for Future Research

It is recommended that further research be undertaken in the following areas:

1. The current use of the Pathways Professional Learning model should be closely examined

to determine whether transfer of the content occurs in the classroom.

2. Study whether the current strategic plan meets the needs of the professional learning that

teachers require to improve their practice to increase student achievement.

3. Increase the consistent use of professional development surveys and feedback and

evaluate the feedback to determine areas of improvement in providing professional

development to educators. Learning Forward offers a book written by Joellen Killion

Assessing Impact: Evaluating Professional Learning (3rd edition) which would be a great

resource for current research.

4. Increase the understanding and implementation of the Standards of Professional

Learning. Learning Forward offers a book written by Stephanie Hirsh & Shirley Hord A

Playbook for Professional Learning: Putting the Standards into Action which would also

be a great resource for implementation strategies for this district and others.
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References

Bolman, Lee G. and Deal, Terrence E. (2017) Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice and

Leadership. Sixth Edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Imprint.

Creemers, B., Kyriakides, L., & Antoniou, P. (2013). Teacher Professional Development for

Improving Quality of Teaching. Retrieved November 7, 2017.

Croft, A., Coggshall, J., Dolan, M., & Power, E. (2010). Job Embedded Professional

Development: What Is It, Who Is Responsible, and How to Get It Done Well. National

Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality. Retrieved November 7, 2017.

Darling-Hammond, L et al. (2009). Teacher Learning: What Matters? Educational Leadership,

47-53. Retrieved April 8, 2018.

Darling-Hammond, L., Hyler, M.E., Gardner, M. (2017) Effective teacher professional

development. Palo Alto, CA: Learning Policy Institute.

Desimone, L. M., Porter, A. C., Garet, M. S., Yoon, K. S., & Birman, B. F. (2002). Effects of

Professional Development on Teachers’ Instruction: Results from a Three-year

Longitudinal Study. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 24(2), 81-112.

Foster, Elizabeth, (2017) New report and tool kit build momentum for effective professional

learning. The Learning Professional, 38(4), 12-13.

Garet, M. S., Porter, A. C., Desimone, L., Birman, B. F., & Yoon, K. S. (2001). What Makes

Professional Development Effective? Results from a National Sample of Teachers.

American Educational Research Journal, 38(4), 915-945. Retrieved November 7, 2017.


FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 61

Guskey, T. R. (2003, June 1). PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT THAT WORKS: What

Makes Professional Development Effective? Phi Delta Kappan, 748-750. Retrieved

November 7, 2017.

Hargreaves, A., & Fullan, M. (2012). Professional capital: Transforming teaching in every

school. New York: Teachers College Press.

Hirsh, Stephanie & Crow, Tracy. (2017) Becoming a Learning Team: A guide to a teacher-led

cycle of continuous improvement. Learning Forward. Oxford, OH.

Hirsh, Stephanie, et al. “Standards.” Learning Forward Dashboard, Aug. 2011,

www.learningforward.org/standards.

Howard, Nicol R. & Thomas, Sarah. (2016) Edcamps: The New Professional Development,

Edutopia.

Mooney, N. J., & Mausbach, A. T. (2008). Align the Design: A Blueprint for School

Improvement. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Rodman, Allison. (November, 2018). Learning Together, Learning on Their Own. Educational

Leadership, 76 (3), 12-18.

Roesken, B. (2011). Mathematics Teacher Professional Development. Hidden Dimensions in the

Professional Development of Mathematics Teachers, 1-28. Retrieved November 7, 2017.

Sawchuk, Stephen. (2017). Teacher Professional Development: Many Choices, Few Quality

Checks. Retrieved December 12, 2017. From Education Week Teacher website:

www.edweek.org.
FROM THE INSIDE–OUT: A STUDY OF THE CURRENT STATE 62

Smith, Tara. (2016). The Future of PD - A Collection of Best Practices. Retrieved November 26,

2017, from Tech and Learning website: www.techlearning.com.

Standards for Professional Learning (Learning Forward, 2011)

Stewart, Vivien. (November, 2018). How Teachers Around the World Learn. Educational

Leadership, 76(3), 28-35.

Timperley, H., Kaser, L., & Halbert, J. (2014, April). A framework for transforming learning in

schools: Innovation and the spiral of inquiry. Centre for Strategic Education (CSE),

Seminar Series(234), 1-27. Retrieved December 15, 2018, from www.cse.edu.au.


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Appendices

Appendix A:
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Appendix B:
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Appendix C:
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Appendix D:
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Appendix E:

BPS Central Office Administrator Survey

Purpose of the Survey

The purpose of this survey it to obtain your perceptions regarding the current professional

development offered for teachers employed by the Birmingham Public Schools. The survey will

take approximately 15 minutes to complete. The information obtained by this survey will be used

as a part of an action research project by Anthony Stamm, Instructional Specialist - Beverly

Elementary School and Cynthia Settecerri, Instructional Specialist - Bingham Farms Elementary

School. These results of the action research will be shared with administrators with the purpose

of setting goals for the future of professional development offered by Birmingham Public

Schools. There is no foreseeable risk in taking this survey. This survey is completely

confidential, please do not put your name anywhere in this document.

1. How do you ensure transfer of learned professional development to the classroom?

2. How often do you receive formal feedback about a professional development offered in

Birmingham Public Schools?

3. How do you measure the effectiveness of a professional development?

4. Who decides what professional development is offered each school year, when is this

done?

5. How do you envision professional development within the district? What is going well

and not so well?

6. What are the approximate costs of offering professional development each school year?

7. What considerations are made when determining how to spend those dollars?
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8. “What has been the most positive aspects of the professional development offer to

teachers and administrators?”

9. “What changes do you think are needed to improve the professional development for

teachers and administrators?”

We want to thank you for your time and willingness to meet with us to complete this survey.

Your responses are incredibly valuable to us and to this project. We will be sure to share the end

results with the district and the public at the conclusion of this action research project.

Recommended Interviewees:

• ✔ Dan Nerad - Superintendent

• ✔ Rachel Guinn - Deputy Superintendent for School Administration

• ✔Joe Hoffman - Superintendent of Teaching and Learning

• ✔ Deborah Gollnitz - Coordinator for Assessment and Program Evaluation

• ✔ Bill Pugh - Coordinator for Professional Learning

• ✔ Michelle Tindall - Coordinator for Global Learning

• ✔ Hallie Snyder - Coordinator for Career Focused Education and Character Education

• ✔ Dean Niforos - Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources

• ✔ Steve Scheidt - President Board of Education


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Appendix F:
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Appendix G:
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Appendix H - What’s Going Well - Teacher

There is support to go to PD during work hours


Guided Reading (2)
Pathways (3)
Meeting the minimum number of hours required to renew my certificate.
Very little. Some teacher led PD is good, but too often the teachers are burned out and not fully
engaged in what they are doing. They don't have time to prepare the best lessons.
optional PD opportunities that align with teachers' specific interests/needs
I think BPS is really lacking in PD that is specific to individual needs.
I am excited about the new opportunities to select PD that is meaningful and purposeful to me as
a learner. I also like that there are a variety of experiences (face to face, hybrid, etc). I wish that
the PD that was built into the work day (late starts/half days) was more meaningful and
applicable.
I like the new Pathways classes. They offer a nice variety of classes in several different formats.
It's going to be fun!
Going to grade level PD at the beginning of the year has been helpful. I like buildings being able
to provide PD THEY need within their own buildings through coaches
Variety
gets my requirements met
Currently, PD directed toward specific Content Area such as ELA is most effective, given time
to work with colleagues and create/ change curriculum is incredibly helpful and relevant.
I feel there is an initiative to provide more content specific professional development with
compensation, which is greatly appreciated.
The change to anytime, anyplace PD.
I feel that there is a lot of support for collaboration of staff members between buildings.
The use of teachers as facilitators. I'm intrigued about the upcoming pathways.
I really appreciate the current coursework in Pathways. I found myself reflecting on my current
unit of study quite a bit after doing the Motivation course. I really appreciate that it is pushing
me to do some reading/reflecting, then implementing things into my classroom with the micro-
credential opportunity. I think this is a great way to get PD without having to rearrange my
schedule.
BPS is very supportive of teacher-led professional development.
Definitely, the institution of the Pathways opportunities.
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K-2 Teacher labs allow a small group of teachers to examine the practice of guided reading and
observe and implement new things to affect classroom instruction.
There are currently several PDs called Pathways that offer financial incentives and a variety of
delivery modes
New offerings are much more relevant to curriculum pedagogy and strategic plan. Usable by
staff in their classrooms. Also, the idea of choice is important.
The pilot pd pathway plan is an excellent idea, but it can be expanded.
Many opportunities to attend PD
I like that the 30 required hours are built into the year.
more focused on student well-being
I like meeting with my grade level teachers to compare successes and suggestions.
Bringing in outside resources when appropriate
Having choice is helpful. Being paid for after school training is important.
Inspiration. Leadership. An attempt to do as we DO, rather than simply as we say.
The overall idea of personalized learning is good. However, didn't this current group of
stakeholders read Drive by Daniel Pink? A bag of loose change isn't intrinsic motivation.
I believe that BPS is making a concerted effort to improve professional development through
more opportunities for peer run professional development at the building and district level. I
believe that they have a good idea with the new Pathways incentives and their ability to provide
professional development to a greater number of staff members through both hybrid and online
PD opportunities.
I agree that creating a positive work culture will improve staff moral
I believe the science professional development has been fantastic, it has been very helpful, the
training was clear and easy to apply directly in my classroom. Also, the learning how to improve
student discussions in my class has been helpful.
The best PD this district has to offer is through the ISD. The rest of the district PD is sporadic,
poorly planned, poorly delivered, not evaluated. No one in this dept. has elementary knowledge,
they lack child development background and minimally should study adult learning
Sessions being taught by our colleagues
There is less big company professional development
Recent trends allow the PD to be more teacher-led.
I love the PD days that mirror an EdCamp unconference.
There have been many offerings in terms of technology integration in our district.
The after-school PD opportunities that you can go back and use immediately in your classroom.
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I think there is a sincere effort to try to offer sessions that will help teachers to help students.
They are trying to make a shift to more teacher-led sessions, and occasionally they do allow us to
pick our own professional development sessions during late start days.
I like the new TLC choices, I think teacher labs and coaching are both positive PD models.
There is a central office administrator who is committed to being in schools and designing PD
based on specific needs.
There are a lot of options and the presenters do a good job of trying to get small group work time
in.
I'm glad you've finally started designing professional development that we can use and that
applies to our needs and wishes. I am happy we will get paid, but I enjoy learning, so the
payment is a bonus but not necessarily a requirement for me. By paying me, you do show you
respect my time as a professional. Lord knows, I work plenty hours on my own anyway.
When my school does have PD 1/2 days, the content is specific to our program needs.
Presenters are always amazing but sometimes I want PD that is very content specific. High
school teachers need that.
types of assessments for instruction
There is a lot of it.
I appreciate that our required professional development time (for the state) is built into our
contractual calendar time. Right now, at this point in my parenting, I am very limited in what I
am able to do before and after school. Before children I was more flexible and able. Now I'm
dealing with making sure my children are where they need to be in the morning and shuffling
them to extra curriculars after school. I know this will change as they become less dependent on
me.
We have a lot of resources
Culturally Responsive Teaching
time for prediction and reflection on the learning content
I love that West Maple has dove into this NPDL learning in the classroom. Some teachers have
been able to attend PD about this in NPDL and I would LOVE too.
Departments can propose PD related to subject matter
Many options
like the sessions with coaches, face to face if needed help
The district provides enough hours to meet our state requirement and certificate renewal needs.
There's an emphasis on PD being more teacher driven.
I think our PD is very relevant to the needs of children today.
There is an effort to provide support within the general ed curriculum for all staff.
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There are generally choices that allow for everyone to have options.
I am allowed to go outside of the district to get PD. Nothing provided by BPS really helps my
field.
The required hours are offered, and extra hours are optional
The fact that new options are being explored is a good sign. There seems to be a real desire to be
respectful of a busy teacher's time and they are trying to make PD more meaningful.
Science
I think the science training for coaches and the NSGX standards has been great. Math
foundations has also been great, but this is a small population of our teachers getting this
information.
It is well planned, consistent, varied format, relevant to current trends
I like the options offered in Pathways as well as the financial incentive. I have found several
topics of interest. I am also very excited about the Guided Reading Teacher Lab professional
development. I like being able to connect with teachers across the district and not just in my own
building.
I think the Pathways Program sounds like a good change, but I have not participated in Pathways
yet
They are doing well with relevancy.
We are beginning to use the expertise that we have in the district to guide our PD. The models
that have been researched to work are beginning to be used.
The implementation of Learning Specialists. They are always willing to help find and/or provide
aspects of Professional Development that transfer to the classroom.
it is becoming more choice based, able to find things that apply to certain subjects or
departments.
Offering additional learning opportunities for people who are interested
The opportunity to take online, hybrid classes and classes in person
A variety of interesting courses is being offered.
The options being offered online and being compensated for our time.
providing continuing PD and collaboration about one specific topic. Embedding teacher
worktime into the PD. The ability to take what is learned back to my classroom and use it the
next day and then to meet again to learn more.
All 30 hours are imbedded in the school calendar
It is offered, and choices are given
There are a variety of PD options offered.
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Pathways options
I’m interested in the pathways
Offer many timely options that keep up with current trends.
Development that allows for the renewal of your certification
We get enough hours provided so we do not always have to search elsewhere
Restorative Practices
Options, options, options! This way we can focus on PD that is directly connected to evaluation
goals.
The many opportunities that we offer for professional growth
A lot of choices with financial incentives.
I am excited about the new Pathways opportunities because of the flexibility and convenience.
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Appendix I – What's going well (Admin)

I am very excited about the Pathways PD


The Pathways concept
There is a lot of PD opportunities for our teachers.
The variety of topics and the encouragement of central office to participate in the PD. Money
follows what is important.
small cohort groups that are ongoing with more than one staff member attending. linked to
current practice where staff can come back and implement and then get feedback.
Time for PD
CRT is a slam dunk---its ongoing and its strategic, it's reflective, it's personalized.
Workshop model for PD
Online opportunities are a great component
variety of topics, understanding of current practices
I believe we do well at offering the PD, but we could be better about follow up.
Offering face-face, blended, online options
The quality and usefulness of the PD is outstanding; facilitators/speakers/etc. are very
knowledgeable and give us strategies that can be applied immediately.
Ongoing consistent focus on a few specific professional learning broad topics
We have resources for staff to attend PD.
Building level staff development has been going very well. District wide CRT training has been
well thought out and implemented.
Variety
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Appendix J: What’s not going well (Teachers)

Teacher Responses: (not going well)


Often not relevant, compensation doesn't make it worthwhile to stems after hours trainings
Limited choice, weak classroom connections, no follow up, no accountability
It is all top down. It's not motivated by what we need but what central administration tells us we
need
There is a lot of required PD that does not necessarily fit with the needs of all of the teachers that
are required to attend.
whole grade level meeting at start of year
PD is too broad, and a one size fits all delivery.
That our PD within the work day is not more applicable and purposeful. It is not differentiated
and is always the same format.
We don't really follow up on what happened when the teachers tried something.
Like the grade level PD but need to change up the format.
Accessibility - need more online/mixed courses
not specific to my role.... ever
CRT (Culturally Responsive Teaching) has done a great job with PD, but it is time to move on to
something new. I feel we are "beating a dead horse".
Most of the PD sessions are scheduled after school, which is challenging when you have other
commitments. It would be nice to offer Saturday or before school sessions. Your work is
appreciated!
As mentioned earlier, district PD needs a complete paradigm shift. If just making teachers
knowledgeable of new practices led to more effective instruction, education scholars and
professors wouldn't have such boring classes. Also, PD presenters should be modeling their
practices in sessions. If 50% of my lessons were on PowerPoint (like PD sessions), my students
would either riot or sleep after the second week of school. Not to mention any names, but rhymes
with A Sparks should be a model for all presenters to learn from.
Often, we don't have enough time to work with colleagues in our departments. Some of our
professional development time might be better used for time to improve lessons, design new
activities, and review assessment data with colleagues to directly improve our day to day
teaching of specific topics and units.
Not as much choice as I would like. More options to move lanes would be nice.
Something I haven't loved, as an instructor, is that I am forced to meet the needs of elementary
and secondary teachers. I find that the sessions I hold for tech teaching are usually no more than
4 people, because most people don't want to attend two-hour sessions, over an hour after they are
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out of school. I wish that we could structure after school PD so that secondary people could start
soon after their school day, then elementary would have a later option. I also think if we could
offer more online or hybrid options outside of just Pathways, this could be adjusted!
I teach students with autism. Not much pd is relevant to me.
Long staff meetings are sort of a waste of time. Rarely do the DPPD reflect how encore is multi-
grade level or some of the needs.
Too much large group PD that isn't always relevant to smaller sub groups.
The beginning of the year PD continues to be a disconnect with teachers.
It would be great if some of our August PD could be like the PD offerings that we have been
receiving through the new platform. Perhaps at least 1 of the 4 days.
Instead of requiring certain PD, what if pathways were the PD? What if we could choose what
we wanted to learn and focus on and that was our 30 hours? What if pathways were our PD,
instead of being additional PD?
The lack of subs has resulted in me not being able to attend things I have signed up for.
I feel like what I already know is being reinforced; I need time specific to my field.
The lack of subs has hindered my participation. I didn't receive a sub 4x already this year.
Some of the DPD at the beginning of the year doesn't seem very engaging.
need more options
Information about possible offerings is not always timely. There should be repeated
opportunities if you are unavailable for a course. There is a lack of accountability for bringing
information back from PD outside of the district because there is no vehicle for sharing. We used
to have some PD that was driven by personal need which seems less available now. The district
does not do a good job of sharing PD opportunities beyond our own district, such as, ISD,
regional, or state level offerings.
Some professional development responsibilities are being heaped upon teaching staff. Using our
depth of intellect in our buildings is one thing, but expecting large scale, professional
development presentations from teachers is another. Often the pace of the PD is too slow.
That the end user has so little say still in the PD offerings being promoted.
My primary concern with many of the professional development sessions is the quality and
credibility of some facilitators.
I believe there could be improvement with large group trainings, the topics often seem vague and
don't apply to everyone. Reflections aren't as thoughtful, and many times are a "show" of what
others want to see, instead of true reflection. Additionally, content is often rushed or not clearly
described.
Unplanned, not strategic, trendy, driven by the superintendent's social justice agenda vs.
developmental needs of children. The current focus is not on academic achievement, embracing
the new technology, new curriculum. Instead, all our in-school PD is about 5D+, character
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education and culturally responsive teaching. When are we going to focus on academically
responsive teaching so that the 5D+ process can evaluate my instruction rather than my skills as
a 'social worker'? We aren't going to close the achievement gap via chasing character education
awards. Our different learners aren't going to take advance high school classes if they are not
competent & confident learners.

The special ed dept is woefully lacking in meeting the needs of specialized training for
professionals. New Sp. Ed teachers are left in the dark. There is no needs assessment because 4
administrators don't even know who we are and where areas of strength and weakness exist. The
parents of students with special needs (not their teachers) have been successful in adding PD to
the pathways pilot. How sad that these are online courses instead of tapping into the resources
already present in our ranks. (Interestingly, it seems much of the PD being offered is not
instructor specific - but rather online......are we not able to attract real people to lead these
classes?)
This district has so many administrators - we should be better at addressing professional
development. Regrettably, needs are not being met - or even identified. (We evaluate the
teaching staff - but not the PD). I don't know where all of these administrators are working - but
they certainly are not present in the buildings. The past two years has been spent developing
Pathways. This endeavor should be far more advanced than where it is today given all of the
attention and time spent on it. If I worked at this pace with my students - I'd be out of a job.
(Two years later we have less than a dozen, online classes with minimal alignment to areas of
need.) I hope the evaluation data on this pilot will be available to the public. I applaud the IS
staff for tackling this project - but in reality, while you will advance your own degree work - it is
unlikely, given the current leadership, that any substantial improvement in PD will result.
Disappointing.........
Delayed starts. I would prefer to get out earlier to do training at the end of the day. When the
elementary kids come late it messes up the schedule and is hectic to be rushed out of a session
and right into your classroom.
not enough time with grade level throughout district
The current district-level
Too many of our professional development hours follow a "one-size fits all" approach.
Personalized learning is a buzz word for students, but I think it may actually be achievable in a
PD context. I'd like to see an open-ended poll asking teachers what they'd like to learn more
about. Also, there is no tuition reimbursement available to teachers who want to take classes at
the university level.
There is generally no follow up from anyone in the district to see if the PD was helpful or if there
is more information needed to implement the assigned tasks.
Much of our professional development is aimed at one type of learning. The teachers who can go
on have to sit through things they know. The teachers who need to go slower are getting lost and
the ones in the middle are picking up what is being presented. Just like with our own teachers we
need to differentiate the PD as well.
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Teachers feel overwhelmed and need help seeing how "new" learning opportunities will fit in
with what they already do, rather than add to what they do. Some "work smarter, not harder"
sessions would be helpful.
A lot of district initiatives are still top-down without consulting teachers, which leads to
meaningless PD that is a waste of our time.
Lack of coherent PD ... a little bit of this about math and some of this about CRT, and a sprinkle
of this about guided reading; too much in too many directions
4 days before school starts is not well planned and specific enough
Delayed starts that could be handled with an email
Staff meetings
It seems like the person I mentioned above is the only administrator that is committed to
elementary PD.
There is still a lot of stand and deliver going on. I know power-points are helpful, but I feel that
the most beneficial time is spent talking in small groups with teachers who have experience with
the PD topic.
At the beginning of the school year, you have totally ignored the needs of your teachers. We
need to get into our rooms to set up our classrooms to create a positive learning environment.
Many of our classrooms have been used by summer camp or been remodeled. We've had to pack
everything up and now set up again. This takes a long time. We need to meet with our content
area partners to plan and collaborate. You make us sit for a whole district speaker that seems to
be more of a motivational session than what I'm really needing at that time. Think of Maslow's
Hierarchy of Needs...try to remember what was on your mind as a teacher. You were thinking:
"Who are my students; What is my focus this year; How do I want my first day of school to go;
What do I need to make this first week run smoothly; Who are my special needs students; Who
are my ELL students; Who are my students new to the district?
My school does not participate in delayed start. I feel that we are not receiving ample
information or updates on 5D/ Pivot like in the other schools. Thankfully staff that do work in
other schools often let us know what has been told to them.
The technology changes come so rapidly that I feel like we are offered "training du jour" based
on the latest gadget or initiative. For instance, I learned schoolwires because we were told that
was the platform the district was using for its website and at the same time, my colleagues are
using google classroom or Weebly or something entirely different. It is hard to keep up.
The number of hours for CRL
For those of us in special education, especially itinerant staff, the majority of PD provided at
staff meetings and delayed start days is irrelevant to our jobs. Many of us do not have classrooms
and most of the PD is directed to classroom teachers. In addition, Special Education typically has
only one-half day a year that we all get together. There are many demanding and legal
requirements to our job that require ongoing PD. Receiving this information via emails and
newsletters is not very helpful, can be overwhelming and does not provide a good opportunity
for questions or dialogue. Having multiple opportunities to meet with our SISS colleagues to
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hear the information all together and have opportunities for collaborative learning would be
greatly appreciated.
Sometimes I feel like our time is not valued and we are having meetings just for the sake of
having meetings. The content might not be relevant and frustrated. I could use that time more
efficiently.
Too much to do, not enough time. All the extra stuff is too much for the students. We need to
deepen their understanding not widen it. Teachers are underpaid and not appreciated. There is no
trust in the teachers. The 5D has ruined the excitement in the classroom, it makes teaching feel
robotic.
After school training when the trainers are not informed to the problems.
The technology pieces are very confusing, and more guidance is needed. Teachers are afraid to
let this "cat out of the bag."
A lot of the PD I attend within the district does not apply to my kindergarten classrooms. I also
think the delayed start timing is hard. A lot of times I get a lot of good ideas but do not have the
time to go back and reflect/make sense of it within my own classroom because the kids
immediately come to school. Without that taking place it's hard to come back to it with so much
to do already...
Large group PD that most times doesn't apply to all present
No enough opportunities or incentives with those options
Hard to always do things before or after school
Many sessions tend to be the same format and occur at the same time (delay start) which does
not allow for ample time to digest any learning that occurred as we rush to teach 1st hour.
There isn't much follow up or time to discuss with colleagues.
Special Education teachers have had very little to no appropriate opportunities to learn and
develop their craft. There has been no opportunity in six years to meet with special education
peers for mutual support and sharing of ideas, techniques and strategies for accessing the
curriculum with students who present with learning challenges. We are isolated and left adrift.
Many of the district mandated Professional Development that is already embedded into the
school day does not affect most staff members and does not address a true need.
My subject is a UA and PD here does not allow for the UA's to have appropriate subject
orientated PD.
The PD is not always applicable or sometimes focuses on the same content over and over when
there are more pertinent topics
There is often a negative or dismissive attitude of veteran teachers regarding PD which is
demotivating to younger teachers like myself. Burnout is a real thing and too many mandated PD
classes and hours leads to a lack of passion for what is important to the individual teacher.
too much at times
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There is very little sharing out. Small groups are getting trained in NGSX or math foundations
for example, but it is taking a long time for the information to be shared with others. Change is
always slow in education, but it seems that by the time most teachers finally learn a new way of
teaching something we are already on to something else.
Not relevant to my subject matter sometimes
It would be nice if the Pathways options were organized in a way that the courses build on each
other.
The number of initiatives continues to be overwhelming.
Maybe frequency.
Decisions are not being made in a timely manner. Consistency across the district is not there.
There are not enough "elementary" admins to help make decisions at that level. The internal
incentive isn't there for teachers to continue to grow and learn. Teachers that are in need of good
PD are not "choosing" to take part. The most effective model for PD is not being used.
Not following up on previous Professional Development that would not only provide a
"refresher" for current teachers but also help new teachers or those re-assigned to a new grade
level.
still need more choices, professional development lead by people outside of Birmingham with
the content knowledge
The required (all staff) PD sessions are not always relevant to my teaching or my needs.
Lack of subs
Work from my regular school day regularly carries over into the evening which makes it difficult
to attend after work sessions.
The required offerings by the district are often the same and don’t seem to apply directly to my
teaching.
Specials teachers, interventionist and other ancillary staff often have to attend PD that does not
directly pertain to their area of teaching. As a result, they do not receive PD that allows them to
grow in their area of expertise unless they seek PD outside of the district and get permission to
attend from supervisors.
Ask us what we want!
more time to implement what we have learned
Too much.......
follow through
Not much follow through on implementation and support.
Not much for my subject. I would imagine PE classes would find some development lackluster
Does not always align with what i teach
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There needs to be a more streamline process/database rather than emails, TLC, flyers, meeting
announcement etc.
I wish there were more continuity and opportunity for feedback
We rarely are afforded the time to sit with colleagues to discuss how to implement whatever
we've just learned into classroom routines in a timely enough manner--that is, right after the
learning has occurred.
I'd like to see more content specific options available through Pathways (science, social studies,
etc.)
too much required and too much crammed into the curriculum to really do justice to all
responsibilities
BPS does not provide relevant PD according to the new initiatives they want us to do or
technology. They tend to just throw things together and never revisit. Quality PD is when 1 or 2
things are the focus and yearlong PD is provided. CRT would be great if it was consistent among
all schools in the district and if certain CRT leaders were not so closed minded.
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Appendix K: What’s Not going well (Admin)

We need more PD tied to closing our Achievement Gap. Also, ensuring ALL teachers receive
PD which can help us do this is important
The implementation of relevant courses on Pathways for other instructional personnel
The amount of time teachers are out of their classroom.
When training staff, I think it is important to give teacher choice. Additionally, I think too much
of our PD has been mandated for a specific topic.
PD during day and no subs available, staff choice after school and not knowing what people
attended, the 4 days before school - too much in too short of period - overload with no
implement or recollection
Programs specific to my area of administration
Most PD is sit and get, and it's dumped on elementary folks in august and we have no other
chance to discuss with elementary staff. So, then I need to send them to places during the year
struggle for subs, etc.; and then I need to individualize.
Pullouts during school day/Teachers being out of the classroom
Not everyone is receiving the same online PD (in school PD yes) time is a concern to get it all
done.
not enough time to attend when it doesn't affect time out of classroom
We need to spend time with follow up, assessment, etc.
Too many different focus areas ... a mile wide and inch deep
The PD that is offered is typically during the normal school day, which - in the context of a
building administration role - makes attendance nearly impossible.
We must be careful that we don't have too many PD priorities.
Disjointed; one and done
As an administrator in the district, I rarely feel developed as a leader in the district aside from
opportunities with the deputy superintendent.
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Appendix L: BPS Central Office Administrator Survey Responses

Question 1 – How do you ensure transfer of learned professional development to the


classroom?
Random supply and demand
Learn and practice with feedback loop
Professional learning is different than professional development
Primary belief of how we can improve teachers
Professional development should align to standards (learning forward)
Pathway model/ job embedded/ results based/ choice
See the new Pathway courses
District provided professional development is signed off on, follows the state requirements
Compliance with MOECS categories
What is offered has been vetted/ official/ appropriate
New pathways / classroom assignments (micro credentials) and other assignments
Using coaches and instructional specialists to follow up with classroom teachers
Principals and Assistant Principals to follow up as needed
Visit buildings and spend time in classrooms
Try to follow up in additional sessions
Co-teaching and modeling individually when possible
Circle back, touch base, and 1:1 conversations
Get feedback from participants after PD: Google form, exit ticket, etc
PD is according to the CTE needs and requirements which are always changing
PD is often about a requirement more than pedagogy
5D+ and overall framework
I do not directly oversee PD
PL is the key lever for improvement (most important)
Provide quality instruction & increase student achievement
Align to a set of standards
Job-embedded, results-based and choices
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Learn, then feedback, cycle of learning


Collective efficacy

Question 2 – How often do you receive formal feedback about a professional development
offered in Birmingham Public Schools?
Formal PD feedback doesn’t occur
Feedback is received from other central office administrators
Feedback is given based on the whole group and not individual sessions or attendees
Some individual teacher conversations occur but nothing structured
No feedback about the school professional development
I don’t interfere with the Instructional Department (Teaching & Learning)
I get feedback from the union president on the pathway roll-out to ensure that time spent is
useful and that the pf is valuable
Survey & data feedback
Use of the pathways
KALPA survey, though data wasn’t being used
Very infrequent within BPS
One-legged conversations
No formal system - individuals seek feedback as needed
The use of the 5D evaluation system has helped everyone
Giving surveys at the end of PD’s with varying questions and use feedback to adjust
I haven’t received any formal feedback – no system in place
There currently isn’t enough formal feedback from PL – we should be considering overall
quality, transfer to the classroom
Question 3 – How do you measure the effectiveness of a professional development?

Don’t know, a gap that needs to be addresses


Use standards to build the pathway groups
Negotiating the money spent with the union
Do teachers, admin and other certificated staff have the time
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Survey’s
Some courses the facilitators collect data and student work as evidence
Exit-tickets and reflections
Formative assessment
Checking lesson plans and meeting notes
Coaching opportunities
Looking at end result, student outcomes

Question 4 – Who decides what professional development is offered each school year, when
is this done?
1st week back to school
District vs. Building time
Valuable use of time on PD in meeting district initiatives
Building principals – time for SIP
1/2 day and back to school days
Instructional Department plans, some days are developed by the Assistant Superintendent
Competition within the Instructional Department with principals informing
Opportunities for coordinators to make decisions based on need
Teaching and Learning department with input from the principals along with safety and
compliance
Strategic Plan
School Improvement Goals

Question 5 – How do you envision professional development within the district? What is
going well and not so well?
Pathways – well great idea, link initiatives to PD and money
Not always providing feedback
Frustration over how we can’t be more creative on the use of time
Weekly intervals in PD to support diverse needs and is responsive
Collaborative in nature (inquiry driven)
Long term strategies
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Well – Literacy labs, collaborative, and pathways


Not well – delayed starts, lack of built in time, not enough frequency
Blend of district level coherence with site-based needs
Ongoing professional learning with someone to support on-site
School calendar when it is more spread out and not so front loaded
Professional learning committee is helpful to get a voice
Having a focus at the district level would be helpful
Limit the number of focus areas and really drill down
There needs to be a balance between individual and district needs of adult learning
Research-based, cutting edge, narrowed, focused
It should not be compliance-based or just checking a box
It should inspire, motivate and nurture
It should be reflective
Grass roots level – touching kids
Important to inform parents
Consider what needs to be done collectively

Question 6 – What are the approximate costs of offering professional development each
school year? Need to get any specificity?
Based on recommendations from the instruction department based on need
The budget is created each year
A lot of money is spent on various PD’s
Constrained by teachers being unable to leave the classroom or work outside of the school day
Budget is every three years
CTE spends 12 –15,000 a year on PD, curriculum, and external PD
5D+ is expensive for all administrators
Teaching and Learning Asst. Supt decision / recommendations
Question 7 – What considerations are made when determining how to spend those dollars?

The school board approves budget but doesn’t impact or dictate spending can impact initial
thoughts
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Difference between hard and soft dollars and how that is spent
This is decided by the Instructional department
Sub shortages and sub costs (costs of paying subs vs. paying teachers)
District PD calendar
Look for grant opportunities
Review needs as a team in the instructional department and budget based on curriculum needs
Use of the sub budget and how subs are allocated
Time, capacity, and sub-time
What is the value added to the larger group of teachers?
Sending limited number of teachers what is the net gain for the group and the ripple effect
External focus and requirements by the state
Pathways – concerned about potentially too expensive for bargaining

Question 8 – What has been the most positive aspects of the professional development we
offer to teachers and administrators?
Some offerings align with the strategic plan
Pathways design is good but do people know the intent
Job embedded professional development is occurring at the high school in math
Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) is a good example
Looking at new ways of offering PD
Pathways is a way to look at things differently – are all things being created meeting teacher
needs
Teacher labs and job embedded gets good feedback from staff
Teachers like the idea of getting time to work on their practice
Online PD is going well – pure online PD is filling up / blended and hybrid and 1/2 full
Spent time to develop and build a vision
Working with people within their classrooms
Trying to offer PD for everyone and not just early adopters
Teacher leaders
Grade level meetings at the beginning of the year in elementary have been useful
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Great team of teachers who developed a PLN and support each other
How do we get the community involved in understanding the importance of PL?
Think about avenues for learning and informing?
Job-embedded professional learning coupled with PL
Planning priorities – be intentional
Question 9 – What changes do you think are needed to improve the professional
development for teachers and administrators?
How do we change the calendar to spread professional development days throughout the school
year?
How do we get support from the school community when additional release days or days off
impact students?
Lack of time
Continue to align professional development to strategic planning
Don’t get too caught up in small details
Blurred between actual improvement and district priorities
New teacher induction program
Control with Pathways and how we can push it out to all staff
The use of professional learning networks to help principals focus on problems of practice – is it
meeting their need and beneficial to them
Additional opportunities to support principals through the assistant superintendents' meetings
Coordination is needed to limit how much teachers are stretched
More focus is needed with an increase in vertical alignment
Follow-up, more than just a one and done PD and follow-up with tools
Focus on good instruction that leads to student achievement goals
Multiple layers to ensure student achievement
Getting more insight/training as an admin on district initiatives
Calendar that allows for flexibility after the beginning of the year
New teacher training when they walk in the door
Knowing that one and done PD sessions aren’t useful – Pathways is a positive
What is the best way to start the school year? how can we use those 4 days that make the most
sense to teachers and administration?
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How do we circle back to make sure learning has taken place?


Everybody is asking for teacher’s time – how do we capitalize on that time and make it
worthwhile when it comes to planning PD. Is there a sense of urgency and just in time?
Continue with strategic plan priority
Teacher assessment – Teacher development
Critical – what are teachers passionate about?
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Appendix M – Tables for Teachers


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Appendix N – Tables for Administrators


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