“PD in a Box” has become a new, engaging way for teachers to learn at their own pace and on their own timetable. Professional Development usually occurs in-person as an onsite meeting among staff. Teaching best practices or new instructional initiatives are introduced and expectations for implementation are described.
These meetings are usually jam packed with information with little time to process a plan for implementation. Instructional coaches, who support the development of teachers, have started putting together an ongoing learning opportunity called “PD in a Box.” This increases the amount of time teachers have to process new learning and create a plan to implement it back into their classroom. This learning opportunity has a positive impact on both teacher proficiency and student achievement.
What is “PD in a Box”
“PD in a Box” is a physical box an instructional coach puts together for teachers. Each box has an instructional focus (ie. classroom management or reading workshop). All the materials included in the box are to help teachers implement the instructional focus strategy with fidelity and greater success. Directions, a focus strategy, implementation tips, and a personal note of encouragement from the instructional coach are included. Teachers then try out the new strategy in their classroom over the next few weeks. By participating in this on-going learning opportunity, teachers earn PD credit to keep their teaching license active.
How to Set Up “PD in a Box”
Instructional coaches can follow these steps to set up “PD in a Box” at their school site:
- Meet with administration to get approval for the idea and discuss details on expectations and implementation
- Create a content calendar (quarterly or monthly) to plan the focus strategies for each box
- Roll out the learning opportunity and expectations to teachers (model the process or show an example)
- Have teachers sign up to participate (allow them to opt-in or out throughout the school year)
- Create a bulletin board highlighting the learning opportunity and showcasing an example strategy box
- Gather materials for creating each strategy box
- Assemble the boxes
- Deliver the boxes
How to Implement “PD in a Box”
It is important that this learning opportunity remains a positive experience for teachers. Since it is not required, instructional coaches need to be cognizant of their messaging around it so that it doesn’t seem like one more thing to accomplish, rather an exciting opportunity to hone their craft.
Instructional coaches can do this by:
- Being extremely clear on the directions in each box – what is the strategy, how it benefits the teacher and students, a variety of ways to implement the strategy, hiccups and obstacles that might occur etc. When teachers have all the information they need to be successful, the greater the likelihood that they will give it a try.
- Being on call to trouble shoot any potential problems that arise and answer any questions or concerns on teachers’ minds. This builds relationships as well as teacher confidence.
- Watching teachers implement the new strategy live with students (when they are ready, of course). Giving non-evaluative feedback on implementation increases teacher accountability, ownership and a desire to continue the on-going learning opportunity.
- Gathering teacher feedback, testimonials or descriptions of their experience participating in the “PD in a Box” initiative. This can be added to the bulletin board to encourage other staff to give it a try while celebrating the work of teachers going above and beyond to better their instructional practice.
Examples of “PD in a Box”
In my Teacher Leader Mastermind, instructional coaches and administrators are rolling out this learning opportunity to their staff. Below are examples of what they have put together:
- “PD in a Box” advertisement
- “PD in a box” Sign Up Sheet
- Bumper Sticker Learning Summary Activity and directions
- Post-it Palooza
- PHOTO: This “PD in a Box” includes a bag to hold all of the materials, directions for the strategy “See, Know and Wonder,” reading and writing materials, as well as a special treat and themed gift. (Photo courtesy of Missy Sinclair)
How will you implement “PD in a Box” at your school site?