Flipped PD and The Future of this Blog

My summer is over. Let’s all lement that for a moment.

Ok, moment is over. Time to talk about the future.

Listeners of the podcast have probably already heard that I am obsessed with changing the PD model at my school. As I transition from Digital Coach to Curriculum Resource Teacher (in charge of all PD and training of our staff), I keep having one thought:

I refuse to lecture at my teachers for an hour about how important it is to not lecture to their kids.

That’s what PD has been for eternity, and it isn’t what actually works. True, in the past, I have ensured that my trainings (especially technology trainings) have included hands-on time and interactive components. I’ve incorporated things like NearPod, Padlet, Kahoot!, Quizzizzzz…and as a result, I’m kind of tired of seeing those in classes, but those also aren’t particularly transformative.

At ISTE, this obsession drove my selection of sessions. In listening to a million educational podcasts, I latch onto anything about professional development. My conversations on the podcast, and on twitter/Voxer/FB, revolve around new ideas and styles. In my mind, all those nuggets and blocks of information have finally taken shape, all the little puzzle pieces fitting together.

Here’s what it is going to look like.

Step 1: Online Learning

All of my PD units will start with a self-paced, online learning component. Given my obsession with podcasts, many of them will be audio recordings of me (with clips from other shows as well) talking about the content. Some may be videos or screencasts, others may be written lessons. These will be between 5 to 15 minutes. They will be housed in Canvas (our district LMS), and along with them will be additional resources, links to source material, and after the podcast, a quiz or discussion board.

These lessons will cover various content. For the first couple, they will be instruction on the models of face-to-face sessions we will be using. The first one, for example, is on EdCamp: what it is, why it exists, and how we will use it in face-to-face at my school. Once I’ve gotten the staff to understand a couple of those models, the lessons will shift to specific instructional strategies, and align with the goals of our administration (standards-based instruction, student centered learning, differentiated instruction, etc.).

Step 2: Face-to-Face

Throughout the year, I will have roughly one hour a month of face-to-face time with my staff. During those times, I will use various models (like EdCamp format, Speed Dating, or Conference style) to have the teachers interact with each other and the new concepts taught in the podcast. Much of this part of the idea I explain in my description of Kerry Abbott’s ISTE session. Her session really blew this part wide open for me and made all the rest of the disparate pieces fall into place.

But what do you do about those that don’t listen to the podcast or don’t pass the quiz, you ask? Well, I’m glad you did. Those people will be given a modified version of the podcast/lesson as a face-to-face, remedial session instead of participating in the EdCamp session or whatever. This does three things.

  1. It gives them the critical content that I know they need.
  2. It models the kind of remediation you would need to do in a flipped classroom, because not all students are going to learn at home.
  3. Probably most importantly, it will encourage them to do the online learning before the next face-to-face, as their friends will be laughing and having enlightening discussions in an EdCamp, while they are listening to me speak.

Step 3: Post Face-to-Face

The last step in the process is getting my teachers to reflect. This is the critical step that we need all teachers to do so that they are modeling what we want students to do with metacognition. Here again, the LMS will come into play. After face-to-face sessions, I will release the reflection component, which will be either a survey completed on Google Forms, or a discussion board on Canvas. Either way, I will be asking teachers to reflect on their learning as well as tell me which parts of the process are working and not working.


This is new for my teachers, for most of them, it will be viewed as completely absurd and possibly stupid. Teachers are negative, and skeptical of new ideas. It isn’t their fault, we’ve been failed time and time again by new ideas coming and going. Eventually the dog stops coming up to the abuser with wagging tail. I get it. So it will be critical for me to find ways to get buy-in from my teachers. One way, after the first session at least, is outlined above with the remediation plan.

Another, will be PD points, or continuing education points. As CRT, I submit points for my staff. Since they are learning through the podcast and discussion boards, I will be giving them points for that. They will also receive points for the face-to-face time, the reflection activity, and the extension activity.

As an example, the EdCamp lesson will have the following point values:

  • Pass the podcast quiz = 0.5 points
  • Attend the EdCamp F2F = 1 point
  • Complete the reflection = 0.5 points
  • Conduct an EdCamp with their students and complete a reflection = 1 point

If they complete all of the parts, and the extension activity, they earn 3 points. If they don’t do any other online parts, and instead come for the remedial, direct instruction, they receive 1 point. This will all be tracked as their “grades” in Canvas. At the end of the year, their grade will be the number of points they get to submit to me and I submit to the district.

My Own Personal Growth

As for the blog, this is going to be my home for my own metacognition. During one of the keynotes at ISTE, they talked about how we don’t show our true selves online, referencing the New York Times article examining social media posts and real life. I’m taking that to heart with my blog. I will be blogging about the entire experience from start to finish, the good and the bad. Every failure and success. Stay tuned, and journey with me, as I try something crazy and likely to fail.

4 Replies to “Flipped PD and The Future of this Blog

  1. Hi Brad: Thank you for sharing these ideas! I love the way you are working on re-thinking PD, because you are absolutely right that it can be deadly. You are also right that new methods will likely result in scoffing from teachers…until they realize how much better the new methods are than the “sit and get” PD they make fun of.

    I don’t currently have much say in how our overall PD or inservice program works (I’m in a digital coach role now) but am hoping that sometime in the next year I will have more of a role in determining those elements. I do at least have the ear of our administrators, so I’m looking forward to learning from your efforts about what works and what unforeseen challenges might exist–hopefully if I can share some of your experiences with my admin, it will make a difference!

    As an extra side note–I just finished ADE Academy this week where we focused on the app “Clips”–I’m excited about it as a super easy and fun way to create little bite-size tips, ideas, etc., and I’m hoping it will help whet the appetites of my teachers for more. Perhaps the tool could be useful to you in your model?

    Can’t wait to hear more! Thanks for sharing, Blogging Buddy!

  2. HI Brad,

    I really enjoyed the last segment of your blog that focused on honesty. One of the most productive growth stimulants is failure. It’s important that we embrace (and share) our failures with our colleagues and our students. Similarly, it’s necessary that we teach our students to value (and recognize the power of) failure. We have to change our mindset and view failure as a tool for growth, as a required part of progressing and improving. Oftentimes, failure is viewed as a result, an end, a bottom line. Rather, failure should be the beginning of a new experience. Your post was encouraging in that regard, and I look forward to following your journey.

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