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Teachers drive their development at the Condon K-8 School

How do you make professional development more engaging and practical for teachers? Involve your teachers! At the Condon K-8 School in Boston, teachers design and facilitate their PD—and the impact on teacher investment and collaboration has been incredible.

Principal Robby Chisholm and his Instructional Leadership Team (ILT), a group of teachers from across grades and content areas, met in August to ground themselves in the school’s mission and map out a plan for the year. They concluded that, for the school to meet its instructional goals, teachers must play a central role in identifying, crafting, and delivering their PD. 

Giving teachers that responsibility, they reasoned, would capitalize on the staff’s knowledge and creativity, maximize buy-in, and ensure the PD would meet their needs. It also respected teachers’ requests.

In the same way we want teachers to be responsive to data, as a school leader I need to be responsive to it.

In feedback surveys from previous year’s PD, consistently we heard that teachers wanted teachers to drive PD more. I feel like we can say this year we have committed to that and our feedback data has improved significantly as a result.
— Principal Robby Chisholm

Robby worked with ANet coach Alexis Rosenblatt, with whom he’s collaborated for almost three years, for support. Alexis shared successful strategies for distributing leadership that ANet has learned from our work in over a thousand partner schools. 

During weekly ILT meetings, team members engage in their own development as they plan for upcoming professional development. They use their time together to:

  • Share targeted objectives 
  • Vet the agenda
  • Model facilitation moves that grade level leads will need to support the content of each session
I love that the ILT is facilitating [PD]. That is our biggest win: we built capacity of the team to plan and lead PD. It frees me up to think about the next level of work.
— Principal Robby Chisholm

This year, the ILT successfully facilitated all 8 monthly PDs, weekly grade level common planning times, and taken the lead on multiple school subcommittees.

Involving teachers in the planning of PD creates common learning experiences, where everyone can plan common experiences for students. Together, teachers and leaders can look at the student work and make decisions that impact instruction within and across grade levels. They also build in time to read articles and apply the learnings to an immediate, hands-on task.

Robby and the Condon K-8 School ILT laid out and executed on a vision for what it truly looks like to build and model teacher leadership in all aspects of the work of the school. Teachers’ voices are heard, and they ensure any time spent on PD and planning directly contributes to driving instructional change.

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