District Administration April 2017 - 40


PRISCILLA A. SMITH

Personalized learning reshapes PD

HOW TO- Instructional Technologist William Deyamport III, standing, helps
a teacher at Hattiesburg School District with technology training using online
modules. Above, he explains how to add assignments to a program.

new ways to personalize learning through
new technology while others use the approach as a catchy new label for existing
PD strategies.
Defining a trend
New technology platforms-along with a
growing body of research about the most
effective ways to hone teachers' skills-are
helping to drive the shift toward personalized professional development.
It is less about customizing the way
teachers learn a specific skill, and more
about identifying the different skills individual teachers need to improve instruction. Beginning teachers don't need the
same training as mid-career teachers, just
as teachers in rural or urban districts may
need different kinds of support.
"Personalized professional development is about meeting teachers where
they're at and helping everyone to move
forward as far as they're able," says Jason
Bretzmann, a Wisconsin public school
social studies teacher and co-author of
Personalized PD: Flipping Your Professional Development (2015). "It's an ongoing,
continuous process."
In practical application, personalized
PD often encompasses a variety of strate40 April 2017

gies that many districts will find familiar:
teacher observations and feedback, professional learning communities, and increased access to digital learning.
But it's also a shift from measuring development by the hours a teacher spends
in workshops. The newer competencybased learning models focus on specific
classroom goals and gives teachers a sense
of autonomy, Bretzmann says.
Bring on the badges
Kettle Moraine School District in Wisconsin started using microcredentialing in
2015 to personalize learning and implement a compensation system that recognizes teacher development, says Superintendent Pat Deklotz.
Microcredentials are digital badges
that teachers can earn by taking short
online courses, completing project-based
work or creating "artifacts" like a test they
designed or a journal for tracking health
goals. Teachers at Kettle Moraine can increase their salary anywhere from $200 to
$600 for each microcredential they earn.
The district offers about a dozen microcredentials, including in Competency
Based Rubric Design, Foundations of
Practice in Learner Motivation and Pro-

ductive Research. The digital badges are
listed in teachers files and can also be
added to r´esum´es or digital portfolios to
delineate skills.
Although teachers decide which microcredentials to pursue, the district carefully
selects courses each year that align to larger
district goals. Teachers also have to be preapproved for the micro-credential so that
the district doesn't go over budget.
Occasional trainings are mandated
districtwide, but those are limited to big
changes-such as implementing a new
student information system -that require
everyone in the district to get the same information, Deklotz says.
An unexpected result of the new system has been a greater alignment and
support for district goals among staff. A
greater number of teachers participate-
and even collaborate-in professional development they wouldn't have had in the
past when advanced studies were offered
only as part of a master's degree.
All kinds of coaching
Collaboration, particularly with a coach, is
an important component of many personalized learning initiatives. Coaches, who
are often teachers or support staff with
specialized training, work one-on-one to
strengthen teachers' skills. At Hattiesburg,
for example, a technology coach might
help one teacher learn to use a specific
program and then work with another to
make math lessons more engaging.
Wichita Public Schools in Kansas
started developing personalized learning
pathways for teachers in 2012, during the
rollout of a new student behavioral supports initiative. Each building in Wichita
has at least one assigned leader (such as
a teacher or vice principal) who attends
weekly professional development sessions.
That leader then acts as an instructional
coach to help guide professional development for the rest of the site.
Wichita also offers special training
events, including a day of live "virtual"
trainings offered via videoconferencing
software on the last day of the fall semester. Teachers are given the autonomy to
choose from a variety of workshops and
District Administration



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration April 2017

District Administration April 2017 - Cover1
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