Personalized Learning for Teachers Too: Professional Development Should Reflect Learning, Not Seat Time!

By September 4, 2013 My Thoughts 3 Comments

“… so, in conclusion, you can provide personalized learning opportunities for your students right now! You can build a blended learning environment to support anytime-everywhere learning! You can track student growth through portfolios! And you can support a growth mindset by encouraging students to reflect on their journey and set personal goals!

Thank you for listening. Also, I was told to inform everyone that this session counts as two hours towards the required twelve hours of in-district professional development. Please make sure you sign out when you leave. Thanks!”

Does anyone else see anything wrong with this?

Think about the BEST learning experiences you’ve had recently. I can almost guarantee that some of those experiences were self-directed. Maybe you read a really inspiring blog post or book… maybe you engaged in an inspiring #edchat on a Sunday night… maybe you took time out at a conference to share your ideas with some colleagues… and maybe you went to an EdCamp and learned from your peers.

Did those learning experiences count as professional development?

In most districts, they probably didn’t. Here’s the problem: we’re encouraging personalized learning for students, but then we’re turning around and telling teachers that their learning only counts if they are sitting in the traditional four walls of classroom. That is so ridiculous that it is almost laughable.

If we really believe that education should be learner-driven, then we need to model that with ALL of our learners- including our teachers.


I’m including more information about the “Personalized Learning Plan” portfolio that all of the 270+┬áteachers in my district are using. I’m really proud of my district for taking this on. After a few long discussions, everyone agreed that teachers should be responsible for choosing and tracking their own professional development- and we built a portfolio to help support that directive. The portfolios took less than a week to deploy across the entire district, and we’ve already had great feedback from staff (see image to the right).

Continue reading on the Just Start for Kids & Schools Blog ->


  • Nicely done Krista. I was discussing this very concept earlier today with a small group of colleagues preparing for an upcoming conference. You beat me to the punch on this post, so I will just comment and share. I agree with your position, and I am looking forward to hearing about the progress of your team.

    • Thanks Robert. I’d love to hear more about that discussion & your thoughts. After writing this post, I’ve heard from a lot of districts who have moved / are starting to move in this direction, and I’m interested in what’s working for other people! ­čÖé

  • Brian Casey says:

    Great idea for PD. The big question is how to best provide PD for teachers at different levels. Giving teachers a way to plan their own training is powerful. This would fit well into the CESA 6 model of documenting professional growth. Thanks for sharing

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