6 Steps for Planning a PD Calendar

It seems as tho many coaches have now settled into the school year and things have been a little all over the place. Being an instructional coach can begin to feel overwhelming. There is so much to do! It’s easy to get bogged down in stress to the point that nothing gets done. One of the things I struggled with the most as a coach is creating a PD Calendar with topics that will support your school’s goals. If you are lost as to where to start here are the six simple steps I use.

Step 1: Use schoolwide data 

The first place to start, when assessing the needs for your school is to take stock of the data that you have available. Some forms of data are:

  • Disciplinary data
  • Process data
  • Classroom observation data
  • Testing data

Step 2: Talk to Your Principal

Your principal is the one with the vision and is the leader of the ship. You are a support anchor, meaning you help to hold everything down, for both teachers and administrators. 

Plan a meeting with your administrator to talk about the school’s mission, vision, and core values.  Then, make sure that you are both on the same page about where the school is currently at with respect to these overarching goals. You may want to suggest a “team” mentality in which each month you and the principal do walkthroughs together. Review school-wide data together. Then discuss what you see happening and what you both think the teachers need.  

Use these observations to formulate a strategic plan and set annual, measurable, goals for the professional development that you’ll deliver.  

As you plan specific sessions, make sure to involve your administrators. You may use the “All Involved” strategy. Set meetings with your principal or administration team and go over your presentations before delivering them. Ask if they would like to add anything to your notes, and if so, incorporate those additions into the sessions. 

Step 3: Survey the faculty

Email an open-ended questionnaire near the beginning of the year, asking teachers what PD topics they would like to focus on. Chances are that your district or state has been pushing teachers to do certain things, but teachers feel ill-equipped to do so. Ask teachers what their biggest struggle is. 

Step 4: Determine a problem and possible solutions that can be addressed with PD

Given all of this information, start to identify the main goals for professional learning this year.

Summarize the most important strategies that you feel you need to teach and backward design the outcomes of the session.

Answer the questions: 

  • What do you want the teachers to be able to do when the training is over?
  • What evidence will you need to show that a teacher has implemented the strategy? 

Once you have done this preliminary research decide how will introduce the strategy and give titles to each of the sessions you will deliver.

Step 5: Get Clarity on time slots

There are two ways to look at developing a professional development calendar, and they are based on what time of day you will deliver the sessions: during school hours or after school hours. This makes a big difference when looking at developing a calendar. 

Here are a few questions to ask before you start.

  • What time of day will I be presenting?  During the regular school hours? During teachers’ planning times? During regular grade level or content-specific meetings?
  • Is this professional development mandatory for teachers to attend or is it completely voluntary?
  • Will all of my teachers be attending? 

Once you get some clarity, you will know how to proceed.

In my current role as a building coach, I am required to deliver biweekly professional development sessions to all classroom teachers. Since I know I will deliver biweekly, I map out my topics at the beginning of the school year based on the school’s initiatives. 

Once I have determined the titles of sessions, I map those out on the calendar. I consider roadblocks that might occur and try to make sure that there are sessions built in for reflection and implementation struggles. I also include work sessions with teachers on specific topics.

I follow this model with all initiatives that need to be introduced and supported. Then I strategically place those on the calendar according to their importance, along with a good time to start a series of professional development sessions (You don’t want to start a new set of sessions during state testing; teachers will not be engaged.)

Step 6: Get everyone on board

After my calendar is developed, I share it with my administrators.  Everyone on the team must understand that the calendar I create at the beginning of the year is a working document, meaning it can change at any time. There will be times when you need to push a session back, add a session on a different topic, and so forth. Think of this as your curriculum map to ensure that students master a foundational skill before we can move on. The same happens when developing a professional development calendar. 

For the sessions, each month choose topics that are on a continuum.  Make sure that you have enough sessions to front-load information and follow up with actionable support during implementation. 

You may not have made such plans before or been as thoughtful in your planning. That’s okay. When you are starting out, you don’t need to necessarily have a detailed description for each session right away. Just plug the topics into a calendar template,  Google Calendar, or your instructional coaching planner.

Resources this post references

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