RETHINKING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
FOR THE FUTURE
In this day and age of data informed decision-making and ever changing best practices, teachers and
school leaders are increasingly pulled in a variety of directions as they attempt to create an environment
that fosters meaningful learning opportunities and motivated learners.
While many factors complicate educators’ efforts to create a focused yet broadly accessible plan to
address this challenge, it helps to think about teachers in the same light as students. All are learners,
and the conditions that motivate teachers and students to learn are the same. If this is true, educators
should see this awareness as an opportunity to rebuild professional growth practices so that they inspire
the same motivation to learn for themselves that they attempt to foster in their students.
This call to action spurred our Staff R&D Team to form a task force in 2013 that would attempt to
reconsider Professional Development (PD) as we know it and build a vision for the future of professional
learning in schools. Whether you are a teacher, educational leader, or a change agent in any industry, I
hope that you will find relevance for your own organization or your own professional growth needs in
our work. Indeed, the premise of this work is that one size does not fit all when it comes to professional
learning, and the same will certainly be true for how organizations implement professional learning
plans that carry them into the future.
The task force began with a concentric approach in which we considered:
What does successful PD look like in non-educational industries?
What does successful PD look like in schools?
What does successful PD look like at our school?
We attempted to find answers to these questions by researching and learning about the current state of
professional development across industries and by using a design thinking process. Because empathy
and understanding people’s needs is the starting point of any design thinking process, we tapped into
the collective experience and wisdom of our own faculty and staff through surveys. We started by asking
ASB teachers and assistants about their best and worst PD experiences with a focus on pinpointing what
exactly made those experiences so good or bad. We also asked them to identify “go-to” individuals at