September 28, 2013

Fire the principal. . . well, not really

How much professional development would you receive, if your school had no principal? Depending on the kind of teachers you have, you'd get none or quite a bit.

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Consider the kind of PD you have in the current top-down model. Most likely, the administrators at your school board or your principal decide what PD is provided. If you are like most teachers, in many cases, you may see this instruction as completely worthless.

How would things be different, if you decided the kind of professional development that took place at your school? What if you or your colleagues directed this PD? Isn't it possible that your interest would increase exponentially?

Staff-led PD is not such a wild idea. When you consider what principals present at PD and faculty meetings, most of it could be shared in an email with a few links to articles or videos. Teachers know what they need, yet they are rarely asked what those needs are. So, you want better PD? Try these steps:

  • Tell your principal that you and a few colleagues want to design some staff-led PD.
  • Poll your colleagues to see what they want (survey monkey is a useful tool for this).
  • Find several highly-motivated staff members (these don't always have to be teachers) who are interested in designing a half of whole day of PD.
  • Use resources like education technology sites ( and are two good ones)
  • Ask for feedback when your PD is complete.

This is a marvelous starting ground for staff-led PD and a good way to "fire" the principal.

Don't miss ROLE Reversal: Achieving Uncommonly Excellent Results in the Student-Centered Classroom, now available in the ASCD store, Barnes & Noble and at and Mark's new book, The 5-Minute Teacher: How do I maximize time for learning in my classroom

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