Through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, we’ve crafted a new framework for  Professional Development. One where teachers give shape to their development opportunities, receive the support they need, and enable them to collaborate and share their best practices.

We call it “Blueprint to PD Redesign.” And we’re bringing it to you.

What are the elements of the Blueprint to PD Redesign?

A district will update and improve its professional learning system, so that it:

  • Engages end users (teachers)
  • Is differentiated based on user needs
  • Is personalized in accordance with each teacher’s goals
  • Is district run, school based and teacher driven
  • Has a demonstrated impact on outcomes

What does the redesign process look like?

The process begins with an introductory meeting, to be held between Pivot staff and the district superintendent. Ideally, this meeting will occur at the beginning of a school-year. Pivot staff will cover the following with the superintendent:

  1. The goals of the process (as seen above).
  2. The method Pivot will use to facilitate the process, which is Pivot’s change design model.
  3. The steps the superintendent will need to take to launch the redesign, which are:
    a. Select a sponsor and a driver for the project—these will be district staff members from the Curriculum and Instruction and Professional Development departments and should be people with whom the superintendent is prepared to work closely.
    b. Make a commitment to communicate regularly with the school board, staff involved in the redesign process, and the community at large throughout the course of the work.
    c. Identify members for the Design Team using existing artifact.

If the superintendent signs on, the redesign process can officially launch. In alignment with the change design model, it will take place in four phases.

These phases are described below in an interactive timeline, along with reflection videos from our pilot districts, Mt. Diablo Unified School District and Riverside Unified School District.

How will the design team succeed?

This team is charged with examining and designing solutions for core district problems. There is hard work ahead and it won’t always be smooth sailing. However, in the end, not only will you create something that is desirable to stakeholders, based in best and next practices, and feasible, but it will also be something to really own and be proud of!

To better equip you and your fellow Design Team members for success, the following questions are answered below.

In education, we continuously examine our current state and work to improve experience and outcomes of our students, families, staff, and community. This new effort honors the work that has come before us, as it is a part of the ongoing improvement continuum. It also recognizes that previous improvement work may have diminished and invites you to make innovative leaps now.

Given the effort you have already put in, it may take a leap of faith to engage on this journey. That said, you are an important part of creating new solutions. We invite you to think in new ways and help drive the change forward.

A team comprised of 8-10 people (large enough to include diverse perspectives but small enough to move the work forward).

The Project Driver plans and drives the project forward. The Driver is also usually the person who does the day-to-day work in this area and will have ongoing responsibility for it when the project is finished.
Other team members fill the gaps that the Project Driver may not cover through experience or expertise. The Design Team is necessarily cross-district. The Design Team may consist of other members of the Drivers’ district team. It may include staff from other departments critical to project success. Additionally, the Design Team should also include members of the stakeholder groups directly and/or indirectly impacted by the project. These Design Team members could include principals, teachers, other site staff, students, families, etc. They can provide the ‘users’ perspective and also champion the work with their peers. Also, it may be important to include members of interest groups (like union representatives, local CBO members, etc.), depending on the scope of the project.
The design team is a team that is tasked with doing the work:

You will attend regular Design Team meetings (at least in the beginning, we
suggest weekly meetings).
Over time, team members will assume more responsibility. This would include examining the current context by talking to stakeholders and analyzing that information and other data with your Design Team. Next, the Design Team would be responsible for developing prototypes (draft documents or tools) and gathering feedback from stakeholders on the prototypes. Then, the Design Team would meet with your team to refine the prototypes, based on feedback.
In most cases, membership on this Design Team will add to your responsibilities, so most likely you will need to consider balance.

Creating significant lasting change in a district requires that the Design Team works together effectively. In practice, this means that the work will be:

Collaborative: Every member of the team has a critical role to play. Active participation, both in the team meetings and in between meetings, is essential.
Iterative: The Design Team will focus on creating incremental changes, which will build toward something new, substantial and sustainable. Be prepared to rewrite and redo and do it all again.
Learning-Focused: It is critical to be willing to try new ways of doing things. It is also important to do something, rather than wait and plan for the perfect thing. Learn from mistakes, make improvements and move on. Failure is only a lesson on how to do better next time. Fail early to succeed faster.
Outcomes-Oriented: This work is focused on creating innovative solutions that will significantly change the future state, the experience of stakeholders. This requires both thinking creatively and concretely.

Honor your commitment to this Design Team by assuming the following responsibilities:

On the Design Team, hold yourselves accountable for getting the work done both
in and out of meetings. Take initiative and motivate others.
Give real feedback. You have a critical and valuable role to play.
Champion the work with your colleagues. Be proud of what you and your fellow
Design Team members are striving to accomplish. As needed, be the public face of the change effort.