ASB whom they consider to be sources of their own professional learning. From this, we hoped to
deduce the growth needs of educators so we could begin to define those needs more clearly.
As a result of the survey, task force members were able to go deeper by picking the brains of those
identified “go to” individuals, a handful of teachers and teacher assistants who had earned the
reputation among peers as professional growth exemplars. We asked those exemplar teachers to
articulate why their colleagues identified them as such, but we also wanted to know how they pursued
professional learning on their own, as well as how they would improve PD practices if they could.
Concurrently, the task force identified themes in the academic literature that would help us to better
understand the elements of exceptional professional growth. Many of our conversations revolved
around how we can identify high quality professional development. Is it as simple as asking teachers
what was effective for them, or is there conclusive literature that tells us definitively when PD actually
trickles down to student learning? We were on a data hunt, and we needed to find clear connection
points in the literature to determine which practices work and why. This part of the research and
development process helped us in our efforts to define professional learning, as we were seeking
different points of view that would allow us to begin imagining what PD for the future looks like.
The sections below are an attempt to organize our thinking and our process. Much of what you read in
these sections is excerpted from the PD 3.0 Report that was written by the PD 3.0 Task Force.
In 21 Trends for the 21st Century: Out of the Trenches and Into the Future, Gary Marx identifies
personalization as a key trend shaping the future of education: “In a world of diverse talents and
aspirations, we will increasingly discover and accept that one size does not fit all.” He goes on to say,
“Part of the puzzle will be how to meet the demand for a more customized, tailored approach to
teaching and learning” (Marx, 2014).
Meeting the demand for a more customized, tailored approach to teaching and learning necessarily
implies personalized professional development for teachers. In How People Learn, the National Research
Council states that “One of the most important tenets of professional learning is that PD models are
learner-centered. Professional development opportunities are selected or crafted by the learner”
(Bransford et al., 2000). Additionally, “Researchers have pointed out that teachers go through certain
developmental stages as they progress in their careers, each of which triggers specific needs and crises
that they must address" (Diaz-Maggioli, 2004).
The standardized nature of traditional professional development programs assumes that all teachers
should perform at the same level, regardless of their particular experience and needs. It is important
that teachers have personal choice in professional development to meet their individual growth needs
(Diaz-Maggioli, 2004). The global trend regarding personalized learning also exists at ASB. A 2013 faculty
survey resulted in 71 percent of teacher respondents showing a preference for an increase in the
number of teacher choice professional development days as a component of their contracts.
If personalization is so important in professional development, how do we achieve it? Answering this
question starts with defining personalized learning.