Why Is It Important to Create Individualized Professional Development for All Staff Members?

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
– Benjamin Franklin

Have you ever had a situation where you walked into your school building's main office and asked the secretary at the desk for help (example: print labels or mail merge) only to find that they were not able to do what you were looking for them to do? You might have walked away saying to yourself “why do they not know how to do these simple tasks?”

When it comes to finding support getting some of the more basic aspects of digital life it all comes down to making sure that the staff members who need to do specific tasks know how to do those specific tasks. To make sure this happens; we need to first identify each of the key members of our educational family and determine what skills they need to know to effectively do their job.

Identifying Staff Member Needs

Providing Individual PD (Professional Development) for Each Staff Member

Is your school district looking to improve student achievement by creating a dynamic Instructional Coaching Program? If the answer is YES, this post covers a subject that has been asked about in every professional development session I have ever produced. “How can we support ALL of our staff members to make sure that we are ALL learning equally?”

This post serves as the 5th in our series supporting the creation of EdTech Integration Plans. Please take a moment to visit our additional posts on this topic:

  1. Create a District Snapshot
  2. Define Your Endgame
  3. Formulate an Essential Question
  4. Create a Staff Needs Assessment
  5. Identify Staff Member Needs Based on Title and Position
  6. Build a Professional Learning Roadmap
  7. Create an EdTech Menu
  8. Develop Standards-Based Lesson Plans
  9. Develop Recommendations
  10. Share Your Plan with Administrators
  11. Create and Approve your Final EdTech Integration Plan

Who are the Staff Members in Question?

To make sure that all our staff members are not only fully prepared to do the tasks assigned to us, but to also have the support of the Instructional Coaching Department, it is important to break down each member of your organization and determine what they need to learn and what skills from each application need to be taught.

Traditionally, a school district can be thought of as having 3-4 subsections of employees.

  • Administration
  • Certified Staff
  • Non-Certified Staff
  • Other

Unfortunately, it is too often the case that, during professional development days, the certified staff is in some type of professional development, the administrators are overseeing that professional development, and the non-certified staff are in their offices or at their desks doing whatever their normal day-to-day tasks are.

Is this effective planning? Does this get the job done? Does this type of professional development plan support the growth of all staff members?

Instead of breaking down professional development into “those who need it” and “those who don’t think they need it,” it is far more effective to break down every member of the team and assess what they need.

Your district could then be broken down into the following:

  • Superintendent
  • Business Office
  • Central Office Executive Assistants (Confidential & Non-Confidential)
  • Principals & AP’s
  • Building Administrators (Department Chairs)
  • Building Secretaries
  • School Councilors
  • Special Services
  • Support Staff
  • Aides
  • Teachers
  • Coaches
  • Long Term Substitutes

Notice that at the top of this list is the Superintendent.  It is essential that the Superintendent has a Growth Mindset and be the first one to share with the team the importance of being a constant learner.  I have had many amazing meetings with my upper administrators which were basically “show and tell” sessions that involved sharing the latest and greatest features of applications being used in the classrooms.  This is a fantastic way to get your Coaches in front of Central Office leadership.

Building a Professional Development Platform for ALL Staff Members

During this step of the EdTech Integration Plan process, it is important to sit down with your district and not just clearly identify everyone who is in your district but exactly what applications, tools, and equipment they need to know and then, identify what it is that they need to know about each of those items.

Let us take Microsoft Word or Google Docs for example. Would you put a secretary and a middle school teacher in the same professional development session and teach them the same way with the same curriculum? Of course not. You would want to teach your office worker how to do things such as paragraph styles, mail merge and find & replace. The middle school teacher on the other hand might be taught paragraph styles but would also want to be taught how to use Microsoft Word or Google Docs to create a dynamic lesson with their students.

Same application … two completely different PD sessions.

Going Beyond the Major Applications

While it is easy to do a comparison in how to provide professional development on word processors, this concept goes well beyond the computer. For example, how often does your district take the time to properly update your office staff on how to merge and hold phone calls, send multi collated print jobs to the copy machine, or translate documents into multiple languages?

How Should You Break Down Your District to support Job-Based Professional Development?

The first step in this process is to lay out all the applications and equipment that is used in the district. In this example, the school district is running a Google-based platform and additionally supports a Student Information System.

The school district would have these items to organize:

  • Google Workspace Applications
  • District Website
  • Chromebooks
  • Digital Learning Platforms
  • Safety & Security Protocols
  • Frontline
  • IEP Direct
  • PowerSchool
  • Telephone System
  • Copy Machine System
  • Windows 10 OS
  • Chrome OS

As you can see, there are plenty of major topics that a district needs to think about in its quest to support every staff member.

How Do You Break Down Individual PD Sessions for each Staff Member?

Let us take the first topic, for example, Google Workspace. Inside of the Google system, you have a series of major applications (Docs, Sheets, Slides). Each of these has its own set of skills that staff members need to be aware of based on their role in the district.

When using a large brushstroke, a teacher may need PD on:

  • Google Docs
  • Google Slides
  • Google Forms
  • Google Drive

However, an office staff member might need to PD on:

  • Google Docs
  • Google Slides
  • Google Forms
  • Google Drive
  • Google Sheets
  • Google Calendar
  • Google Chrome

You can see in the example above that the office worker needs additional professional development time to learn additional applications within the Google Suite to be able to completely do their job effectively.

How Do You Provide Professional Development to Every Staff Member Effectively?

In this post, we have looked at the 5th step in the journey towards creating an effective EdTech Integration Plan for your school district. If you are at this point in the progress, you are now in the “building” phase meaning, your district has already produced a District Snapshot, you have Identified your Essential Question, and you have surveyed your staff to learn what type of skills they think they have.

The 6th step in the EdTech Integration Plan process is to create your Professional Learning Roadmap. This is where we take all the research and information that we have compiled and along with the knowledge of what each staff member needs to know based on their role in the district, create a plan of action that will demonstrate how the professional development will be given.

About the author, Jeffrey Bradbury

Jeff Bradbury, creator of TeacherCast, and father of the famous @EduTriplets Thanks for checking out TeacherCast today. Please take a moment to find me on all of my Social Media channels!