IEP’s are for Teachers too. Planning your PD.

Tonight’s Edchat topic as well as @llacrosse’s article got me thinking about how we look at professional development. I have noticed that PD is mostly offered as a whole group session on certain topics. The problem with this is that a lot of time you have a mixed audience of different skill levels. Some are bored, some are content, some are overwhelmed. Why do we continue to offer PD in this way? Is the whole staff getting the most out of the PD sessions that you are offering? As the title of the post says I am going to share my thoughts and my plans for this year.

Picture from English4Today.com

First off lets define an IEP.

The IEP should describe how the student learns, how the student best demonstrates that learning and what teachers and service providers will do to help the student learn more effectively. Key considerations in developing an IEP include assessing students in all areas related to the known disabilities, simultaneously considering ability to access the general curriculum, considering how the disability affects the student’s learning, developing goals and objectives that correspond to the needs of the student, and ultimately choosing a placement in the least restrictive environment possible for the student. –Wikipedia

Lets pull that apart:

The IEP should describe how the student learns, how the student best demonstrates that learning and what teachers and service providers will do to help the student learn more effectively.”

 

How does the student teacher learn? Do they like to see a live demo (hands on)? Do they like things “Written Down”? Do they like watching video’s so they can pause and go over the steps?

Are you offering all of these?

 “Key considerations in developing an IEP include assessing students in all areas related to the known disabilities, simultaneously considering ability to access the general curriculum, considering how the disability affects the student’s learning, developing goals and objectives that correspond to the needs of the student, and ultimately choosing a placement in the least restrictive environment possible for the student.”

Developing goals:

In my past districts all of the teachers are hearded into a room for an hour to learn about something and then sent to the next session. Are you setting goals with your teachers? Are you painting the picture of how these tools and techniques fit into “their” world? Are we assessing the skills that are taught? Finally,are we holding sessions in the least restrictive environment? We go back to the different skill levels. The less skilled teachers are not going to ask questions.

“The IEP team is responsible for conducting an annual review to ensure that the student is meeting goals and/or making progress on the benchmarks specified for each objective. However, if the present IEP is not effectively helping the student in the classroom, an immediate revision is to occur. This is something all teachers should have in mind because of the consequences that not doing this would have, not only from a legal point of view, but also because if an immediate revision of the IEP is not requested the child will struggle through the rest of the year.

-Wikipedia

We are the IEP team. The curriculum and IT department together needs to evaluate PD sessions and make sure each individual student  teacher is making strides and improving their knowledge and skillset. If the IEP is not working than you need to revise. If not the teacher will not be able to build on what they know and they will struggle through the rest of the year.

I have never been a fan of someone ranting without having a solution. So I am offering my plans for this year as well as what has worked for me in the past.

1:Create a google form asking the teacher What are your needs? What do you need help in? What are you struggling with? What are you good at? We can use this form to also collect our gifted students that can help be our leaders and go to people in the buildings. Most of the time I have found you can give those teachers new things and they will help your staff.

2: Collect responses and start to plan out your PD sessions. In the passed I have used 2 thought processes.

 

  1. Learn to Earn– Build incentive. Example: Digital Camera’s are inexpensive and they are constantly being utilized in the classroom. Create a set of classes that the teacher can earn a piece of technology to utilize in their classroom instead of just throwing it and seeing what sticks.
  2. Buffet Style PD– I offer PD twice a week. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Tuesdays are devoted to “Tech Tuesdays” which is one on one time to play. I am available as well as my gifted staff to work on projects a teacher is working on. It could be a lesson, something they want to add to their teacher website, or creating a google form to use in the classroom. These sessions are very informal and one-on-one. Thursdays are a revolving topic each week. I add these events to a google calendar and invite the whole staff. The staff than can say “Yes” or “No” if they need the skills or the PD. These sessions are pulled directly from the forms we sent out at the beginning of the year.

You are not in this alone. Their are several people as well as tools that can help you. Here are 5 tools that can help you develop and deploy your IEP-PD Plans

  1. Google Apps: Google Forms to identify the IEP-PD needs. Google Docs/Presentation to share resources and have a one stop place for teachers to access material.
  2. Diigo: Diigo is great for when you the “Explorer” is out on the internet super highway finding resources to bring back to your district. Use Diigo as your second brain to remember that one awesome resource that you found that one time 🙂
  3. Screencast-o-matic.com: SCOM is an online screencast program that does not require any software installation to use. It records everything on your screen as well as your pretty face if you choose on your webcam.
  4. Google Groups- Google groups are a great way to have your different groups subscribe to your feed and keep them up to date on trainings as well as resources.
  5. Twitter: We are all here for you. That’s what a PLN is for. You have the experts. Feel free to pass one of your students onto someone that you know is knowledgeable on the subject.

 

As a lot of you know I am more of a how-to guy. This post is out of charecter for me but I have been stewing on this idea since #Iste11.

 

How do you do PD at your school or institution? Is it working for everyone? Where do you fall?

 

Thanks

TJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TJ Houston

TJ Houston is the Director of Technology at Shelby City Schools and New London Local Schools for Epiphany Management. TJ leads professional development in all areas of technology and loves developing ways to make teachers, students, and staff's lives easier with the use of technology. TJ also loves photography and his portfolio can be found at http://www.tjshots.com. All of the views on this site are his own.

  • I really like this idea. Thanks for writing this post.

    I’ve struggled with how to differentiate PD for a long time. Some things I’ve tried have worked well. Others not so much.

    I’m currently working on some free, online, peer-driven PD courses on P2PU. (See http://www.k12opened.com/blog/archives/581 and http://www.k12opened.com/blog/archives/602.) Your ideas here have me thinking about some new ideas to try out there. Thanks again.

    • Thank you for stopping by! Thank you for your kind words. I will check out those resources! Thanks for sharing!

  • Scott Krieder

    Great post!

  • John Marr

    Your belief in effective professional development resonates with me. I understand your feelings concerning ineffective professional development. What can be done?

    Start by not giving teachers IEPs. IEPs are part of the Individual with Disabilities Act. The IEP guides the delivery of special education supports and services for the student with a disability. Teachers do not have disabilities, they lack focus. 

    Quick story about PD. Professional development was incredibly effective pre-World War II. The draft and the shifting economics of the time created a shortage of qualified teacher. Many states issued emergency teaching certificates to individuals who otherwise would not be in the classroom. Suddenly you had a glut of poorly trained, poorly qualified educators. Professional development ceased to be a reflective process of equals, and became more a, “you don’t know what your doing so sit there and I will tell you what you need to do to not screw up.” As a result professional development is seen by a many educators as a four letter dirty word. To in anyway insinuate that teachers have a disability discredits your great idea and feeding into this issue.

    You make a great point:

    “We are the IEP team. The curriculum and IT department together needs to evaluate PD sessions and make sure each individual student  teacher is making strides and improving their knowledge and skillset. If the IEP is not working than you need to revise. If not the teacher will not be able to build on what they know and they will struggle through the rest of the year.”

    Change the word IEP with PDP and I am right on board. The following is a taken from the Federal Professional Development Requirements found at http://www.wcs.edu/professional_devel/appendix.pdf 

    “The NCLB Final LEA Consolidated Plan must include a Professional Development Plan based on a needs assessment and must include the descriptions of the professional development activities to be carried out by the LEA as listed below. A comprehensive approach to the development of the plan should be taken in order to ensure that all teachers are highly qualified and able to 
    assist all students…”

    Ohio has great standards for professional development found at http://esb.ode.state.oh.us/PDF/Standards_ProfDev_sept07.pdf.

    A great first step would be to see if these goals are reflected in your district’s professional development plan, which should guide all district level PD offerings. The point of the PDP is to be specific in nature. In my district, the PDP is so watered-down that anything can be used to meet the plan. This is a dis-service to teachers, students, and my community.

    You offer great points. I would be interested in your thoughts concerning what you find. Thanks for your post and I look forward to reading more in the future. 

    • Wow. Thanks for the awesome well thought out comment. Thank you for all of the resources. I will share with you what I find. 

      THANK YOU!
      TJ