The Unsurprising Need For Differentiated PD (Survey Results)

Last week I asked you to fill out a survey about professional development. Many of you (342 to be exact) took time to fill out this survey and share your thoughts on professional development in education right now.

At this point I think I’m supposed to say, “Wow, these results really surprised me!” Except that they did not surprise me. It was interesting to see the perspective that both teachers and administrators have on professional development, but the results were what I was expecting.

Professional development needs more choices, more practical strategies shared, and better ways to connect the PD to actual teaching practice. Here’s the results:

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When asked, “What is your experience with differentiated professional development?”, here are some of the responses:

Just the EdCamp style and personal APSummer institutes for some teachers.
The technology PD that I have attended this year in my district has provided me with the opportunity to choose my learning for the afternoon. Choice (as we all know!) is so important in learning. As teachers we are moving away from “coverage” in our classrooms and allowing students the opportunity to explore and dig deeper into learning. The same needs to be applied to the PD our districts are providing us … instead of just more and more and more to “cover” what needs to be shared with us, instead of digging deeper.
I love webinars and online training. They are wonderful time savers and I can actually do more PD when it is available in some type of online format.
We have menu days for technology where teachers choose which sessions to attend. That’s it. It is only half a day or rarely one day per school year. We have bi-monthly technology workshops, but they are voluntary. You can choose to attend. Some of them allow you to use the time to work on whatever project you want, other workshops have a set topic.
I’ve done some targeted courses online and that i signed up for, but at school inductions, it’s normally whole school and we sit in a room for hours.
I can’t really think of a professional development I’ve been a part of that has used differentiation. I’d love to learn more.
At my previous district, we had a league-wide inservice day. It was set up like a conference with different sessions presented by different speakers, and a keynote in the early afternoon.
I can only think of a handful of times in the last 10 years that we have had a chance to attend differentiated professional development given at the school. If we want something different, then we have to seek it out and attend on our own.
Very minimal. Not worth sharing.
I do not have any experience in differentiated professional development to my knowledge.
Not sure what differentiated PD looks like?
Not much.
None. Our district always has everyone doing the same thing.
I would love to see things separated more – specific to the grade level groups we teach, ie, elementary, middle school and high school, and for the subject areas in middle and high school as well.
We’ve had some differentiation in the district, but we’re still primarily stuck in “one-size fits all” mode as admins see their initiatives as having priority and rarely have time to follow up to provide additional support for those who need it or time to give to those who seek to advance or innovate.
Mine is when I go to conferences on my own dime and choose my own sessions.

If we believe that our students learn best when the instruction is differentiated, shouldn’t the same be applied to teachers, leaders, and all educators?

I’m happy to say that I’m busy working on something that will hopefully change professional development as we know it. I know that is a big statement, but I really do believe the work is worth it…

Can’t wait to share more when the time is right!

I also gave away 20 copies of my new book Learning By Choice to 10 teachers who filled out the survey (and 10 copies for one administrator). Congrats to all the winners! I’ll be contacting you shortly via email to get your mailing address. Here are the results and how I selected the winners randomly live on video:

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