Guide: Summer Professional Development

The kids are out of the building. Teachers are packing up their classrooms for summer. It’s hot outside, yet, the air conditioner in your office is blasting so cold that you need a jacket. You sit down in front of a stack of feedback surveys. “Alright, time to plan my summer professional development!”

OK, maybe that’s not your first thought as summer hits. And yet, your growth is important. The most powerful way to instill a growth mindset in teachers is to have one yourself.

So, how do we prioritize our own growth? Gather up your momentum, teacher feedback, and fresh memories about the school year. Then, use all of that to make decisions about how to continue learning over the summer. 

Identify Your Growth Opportunities

Another coach here at SCT is a climber. She told me about how she always wants to train the grips that she is best at. I don’t blame her! It’s good for our confidence when we practice things we’ve mastered. Unfortunately, working her strengths doesn’t improve her climbing at all. She really needs to build muscle in her weakest grips.

The same goes for your growth as an instructional coach.

First, you’ll need to identify growth opportunities. The best way to do this is to review those teacher surveys we discussed in the last post.

1. Separate the survey questions into two categories:

  • Mostly 1s and 2s
  • Mostly 4s and 5s

The questions on which you received mostly 1s and 2s are opportunities for growth.  

Look for patterns in the questions that you identified as growth opportunities.  Here are some examples:

Questions related to ”Staying Current on Best Practices”

  • My coach is informed on the latest trends in curriculum and pedagogy.
  • My coach is informed on the latest best practices in instruction.
  • I have gained helpful resources from my coach about current educational best practices.

Questions related to building relationships

  • My instructional coach communicates regularly with me.
  • My coach maintains open, two-way communication with me.
  • I feel comfortable expression my professional concerns and vulnerabilities with my coach.
  • I trust my coach.

Other categories mentioned in our survey are:

  • Questioning without judgement
  • Remaining student focused
  • High Impact Instructional Practices
  • Taking Risks
  • Making Data Informed Decisions
  • Having an Impact on Teacher Growth

Choose one or two of these categories that you think you should prioritize.

Our survey actually breaks the questions into 8 specific categories, if you’d like to really break it down.

Consider School Initiatives

Finally, make sure to consider school initiatives before you sit down to plan your summer professional development.

To do this, make a list of initiatives and decide how comfortable you are with each one. If the initiative is completely new to you, you’ll need to spend part of the summer learning about it.

Choosing Professional Development

Now that you’ve identified one or two growth areas as well as potential school initiatives, begin thinking about the professional development you’ll need.

For a school initiative, the choice is straightforward. Find a workshop, seminar, or online class that addresses the initiative directly. If it’s a popular initiative there will be no shortage of these.

For example, if your school is looking to implement math talks, find a workshop about it! Participating will provide you with ideas and resources for the professional development you deliver to your teachers.

If you need to work on teacher growth, choose professional development that’s directly related to coaching. You could attend a workshop about delivering professional development or read our Simply Professional Development ebook.

For a quick, yet intense session, attend our Simply PD Summit!

Maybe you only need to make a few small adjustments to your coaching. In that case, try a coaching-related podcast, or read my book, Simply Instructional Coaching. If you need a deeper reset, take one of Simply Coaching and Teaching’s LIVE Interactive Workshops.

My summer course can also help build relationships, question without judgment, and make data-informed decisions. We’ll talk a lot about building trust and ways to communicate better with your teachers.

Perhaps the surveys indicated that you should improve your high impact instructional strategies or broaden your pool or resources. In this case, you might want to attend a workshop centered around on a particular set of standards.

These workshops typically help you get comfortable with the standards. They may also provide resources, aligning lesson plans, and assessment ideas.

In order to improve your knowledge of current best instructional practices binge a podcast like Jennifer Gonzalez’ “Cult of Pedagogy.” Every episode outlines inspiring instructional strategies and provides the details on implementing them. Stay relevant with coaching by checking out two of my favorite podcasts Buzzing with Ms. B the Coaching Podcast and Always a Lesson’s Empowering Educators Podcast. These two podcasts give me so many ideas as a coach.

You could also try reading a book with fun, easy-to-implement strategies, like Lang’s “Small Teaching”.  Anything that will broaden your toolkit is a great choice!

The Bottom Line

To recap, your growth as a coach matters! In order to take your learning into your own hands:

First, analyze the surveys to find growth opportunities.

Next, consider school initiatives and what you’ll need to learn to facilitate them.

Finally, search for learning opportunities that are aligned with the biggest gaps in your knowledge.

I hope that I can be a part of your summer professional development! Let me know how I can help!

Resources this post references

(Just click on the link on the picture)


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