Teachers constantly juggle a number of different national, state, and district initiatives in today’s fast-paced and complex educational environment. Organizing professional development days that meet the varying needs of every teacher has become increasingly difficult as the pace of change far exceeds the number of days allowed for PD. To that end, Garnet Valley has adopted the acronym C.H.O.I.C.E., taken from Brad Currie (@bradmcurrie) and Jason Bretzmann’s (@jbretzmann) book, Personalized PD: Flipping Your Professional Development for its framework when designing professional learning days.

In keeping with our goals of offering and utilizing C.H.O.I.C.E. (Constant Progress, Honoring Professionals, Ongoing, Individualized, Collaborative, and Energizing) sessions, our district divides the professional learning calendar into three distinct models: Technology Boot Camp, Assigned Professional Development Days, and CHOICE Professional Development Days.

All sessions are driven and organized based on feedback from staff and analyzed by the district’s LEAP Committee, all utilizing face-to-face, synchronous, and asynchronous blended instruction. Our teachers choose their specific learning topics at their own pace with their preferred instructional model.

This year’s Technology Boot Camp welcomed 400+ participants, including administration, faculty, staff, students, and parents. Professional learning sessions ranged from “Becoming a Certified Digital Educator” and “Introduction to Schoology” for teachers new to technology, to “Breaking Down the Walls of Your Classroom with Blogging,” and “Launching 20% Time,” for those more seasoned.

Specific learning solutions also included training on Garnet Valley’s new SIS, Alma, which was selected because of its ease of use, allowing more time for PD initiatives across the learning community. Additions to this year’s Technology Boot Camp included both a parent and student session and a Keynote Speaker with Fox Business School’s Dr. Darin Kapanjie (@kapanjie), who provided excellent insight into what universities want in high school graduates and what potential employers require from those graduating college.

(Next page: How to use C.H.O.I.C.E to make your own PD engaging for teachers)

These guiding principles ensure successful use of C.H.O.I.C.E to differentiate your professional learning:

  • Organized professional learning takes a lot of time and planning
  • Differentiated professional learning takes an unwavering commitment by district administration
  • Collaboration between curriculum and technology offices is critical
  • All stakeholders must have an openness to listen to critical feedback and study survey data

To plan the most meaningful and relevant professional development for our faculty and staff, the following timeline keeps us on track:

Since fully adopting C.H.O.I.C.E. more than a year ago, the feedback from our faculty and staff has been tremendous. Our teachers see that their feedback is being utilized to build and make improvements to  subsequent professional learning days. Staff absences are down, and staff members volunteering to facilitate sessions are up, a clear sign that PD days at Garnet Valley are meeting the needs of our teachers.

About the Author:

Samuel Mormando is the Director of Technology for Garnet Valley School District.