#SOL16: Professional Development


What is Professional Development?

Are those groans that I’m hearing?  Does professional development bring a bit of a frown to your face or a sinking feeling in your stomach?

I’ve had the privilege of engaging in powerful professional development (PD) over the course of the last two weeks.  I’m going to cite four specific examples of PD that have been powerful for me and then explain the critical attributes that contributed to my learning!


Powerful PD:

  1. #TCRWP 90th Saturday Reunion
  2. #TWT Blog Series on Professional Development
  3. #G2Great Twitter Chat on Thoughtful Decision-Making
  4. #TheEdCollabGathering

What made these four instances powerful learning experiences?


All of these examples were freely chosen by me.  I chose to travel to the #TCRWP 90th Saturday reunion.  Once there, I had approximately 150 sessions to choose from – a veritable buffet of choices that was incredibly difficult. (You can read about those sessions here, here, here, here and here.)  The #TWT Blog Series could be read in order or as I had time to savor the content.  The #G2Great Twitter Chat involved choices about which questions I responded to as well as conversations that were extended.  And #TheEdCollabGathering on Saturday offered multiple sessions in four different time frames so I could choose the sessions of greatest interest.


There was no cost for any of these PD offerings.  Of course, the #TCRWP 90th Saturday reunion involved travel to New York City – but the PD was a gift from Lucy Calkins and colleagues just as #TheEdCollabGathering was a gift.  I attended the Saturday reunions from my living room for several years before live attendance!  The #TWT blog series and the #G2Great Chat were free – only required my time!  Free is a nice selling point for my frugal mind!

Learning Collaboratively with Others

Whether it was a turn and talk with Tara or Erica, or tweets to attendees or those at home, or even reading and collecting blog posts from others, #TCRWP is ALWAYS about learning collaboratively with others.  We kept talking over lunch at the end of the day – not yet ready to end the day.  Twitter chats are also always about learning with others.  Retweeting, or finding “frame-worthy” tweets, is all about rejoicing in the language precision of friends’ 140 characters that just must be repeated verbatim.  And a blog post series allowed me to respond to the #TWT authors and their posts directly or on twitter.

Available 24/7 to Revisit

The learning continues after each of the events above.  My notes, multiple blog posts and conversations on Twitter or Voxer are available 24/7 to revisit #TCRWP’s 90th Saturday Reunion. I can continue to revisit the #TWT PD Series and send links to friends for conversations.   I can review the #G2Great twitter chat in a column of my Tweetdeck as well as read Amy’s wonderful analysis blog post here. And all of the Hangouts on Air by #TheEdCollabGathering are available for viewing . . . anytime . . . anywhere.

Passionate and Inspiring  Presenters

Not only were each of the presenters above passionate and inspiring, but they were also knowledgable and skilled at “pushing” for action.  It was never enough to learn because the learning wasn’t the terminal point – that was reserved for the plan for “How are you going to use this?”  Masterful, experience, and models of reflective practices . . . EACH.AND.EVERY.ONE!

So a tough question . . .

If those are characteristics that I value in my quest for PD that fuels my heart, soul and mind, how does that match up with PD that I provide?



Learning Collaboratively with Others?

Available 24/7 to Revisit?

Passionate and Inspiring?

Choices are built into the task that teachers are asked to complete.  They have to “do” something but they have choices.  Free?  Yes! Learning collaboratively with other?  Yes, with pair-share and productive group work. Available 24/7 to revisit?  Yes, thanks to google docs and slides there is always some artifact to leave behind.  Passionate?  Yes!  Inspiring?  I hope so!

If nothing else,  naming these characteristics that I value will push me to make sure they are included in future PD sessions!

What characteristics do you value in PD?

slice of life 2016

Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  Thank you for this weekly forum!

33 responses

  1. It is amazing what is available. One just needs the interest and passion to access. So grateful for the resources.

    1. Availability, interest, passion – all fuel our learning. I can never decide if learning is another chicken/egg conundrum. Is it the more I learn, the more I need to know? Or the more I know, the more I know there is YET to learn?

  2. Learning from the PLN AND CHOICE on what pd meets your needs is key for me! There’s been a lot to choose from lately and that is wonderful.

    1. Amy,
      The choices just seem to get better and better! I can’t believe the “giants” that I’ve been able to learn with in the past view years! Maybe “access” to those great readers and writers is another feature! All good!

  3. Our quickly changing digital world has completely changed the face of professional learning, hasn’t it? It is amazing to be able to have access to so many great minds and be able to collaborate with others to help make us better at the thing that we love to do. Thank you for making feel grateful!

    1. Yes, and these kinds of conversations continue to grow even more ideas. Sharing knowledge instead of “stockpiling” it really helps the kiddos we serve the most!

      You are welcome, Kim!

  4. I feel honored that you included our TWT blog series with all of these other incredible PD opportunities. Thank you, Fran.

    1. Stacey,
      All your posts are insightful but your series always have JUST what I need! ❤ TWT

  5. Living where I do I sometimes can not attend Pd that I know I would love, but the availability of archives, live stream, tweeting, and more has helped me feel better connected.

    1. Erika,
      The connections always seem to draw me in and then the learning is magnified! Thank you for continuing to grow and learn . . .across the miles!

  6. Thanks for sharing with us Fran. It’s always eye-opening to see what the teachers do to maintain their teaching status. 🙂

    1. You are welcome, Lisa. It’s that time of year (tax-time) when I always shudder at my personal professional development (books, TC, time, travel) and really don’t want someone to say, “But you have all summer off.” Only ONE summer in three decades plus that I have NOT attended professional learning opportunities on my own dime!!! Funding what I value!!!

      1. Kudos to your dedication Fran! It’s teachers like you who keep our kids on the right track!

      2. Thanks, Lisa. So much to learn! Education is an ever-evolving world! Always more to do! ❤

      3. I hear you, Fran!

  7. Fran,
    Your thoughts on PD really hit the spot. I will be thinking about your ideas as I begin planning our summer into fall opportunities! Thank you!

    1. You are welcome, Christine! It’s a good time to reflect when beginning to plan! ❤

  8. “How are you going to use this?” is the follow-up question I ask with all my classes. It lets me know what has been absorbed and I’m no longer surprised at what I can learn from my attendees . Excellent post with a lot of excellnet points.

    1. I like to pair “how” and “when” to get a little more “actionable”responses! I love when I learn just as much or more from my attendees as well!


  9. For me the key component of any good PD is choice, whether it be something I choose to attend or choices I am given while at the session. This makes me feel like I have an active part in the PD and I tend to get more out of it. I think these are important pointsw for anyone planning a PD session to keep in mind.

    1. Thanks, Bob! Choice is also key for all our kiddos as well!

  10. I enjoyed this discussion. I guess choice is probably the one I feel is so important. It is great when it’s free, but I pay to attend NWP, NCTE, ILA even though I am presenting. I do like the idea of being able to revisit the sessions through some type of archival system. I feel that the SOL16 community provided me with solid PD – lots to think about – so I am returning here every Tuesday I can make it. Thanks for this discussion, Fran.

    1. Lynne,
      The communities that exist – Twitter chats, Voxer, SOL16 – are all so critical for fueling our minds and hearts! I think there are many WINNING combinations – but choice seems to be the biggest one so far!

  11. That’s so great Fran. So glad that you have such wonderful opportunities. I have something similar with the National WritingProject. Our local writing project has been a God Send for me.

    1. We desperately need to find our “tribe” so we can “feel a little less weird”. We may need to hunt a bit but there are many opportunities available! ❤

  12. Your list is one that I wholeheartedly agree with! PD our way is a wonderful way to connect and learn. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    1. You are welcome, Dalila! ❤

  13. Great, thought-provoking post, Fran! Choice is always key, but so is providing something teachers can use immediately with their students! Love learning with you, as always. Will you be at a TC institute this summer?

    1. Catherine,
      I will be at June writing and reading again!!! YAY!

  14. I love your reflections! I find that voice and choice are so important for student and adult learning. We are getting better about offering more choice to students, but in some places we forget the value of this for our adult learning. My new role as a director of professional growth is all about individualized, personalized professional learning- I appreciate your thoughts on the topic. Thank you for sharing!

    1. You are so welcome, Amy! This is NOT a definitive treatise on PD – but it was incredibly eye-opening to consider the PD that was available in a two week time frame! Enough to review, use, and reflect for a few moons! ❤

  15. […] think of HOW one gets better.  Previous posts about professional development are here, here, and here. I love learning.  I love learning with friends.  Therefore, one of the best tools that I use for […]

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