Crafting a Professional Development Plan

Voice and choice“…focus on teacher engagement by offering opportunities for teachers to share their voice and exercise choice.”

Administrators and teachers are overwhelmed, but they also want targeted support and, in many cases, are clear about what will help them most. They may also feel isolated and underappreciated. A professional development plan needs to be crafted with these issues in mind. Administrators and teachers must also have a voice in choosing the most relevant topics for the plan. And in addition to mandatory sessions, educators should have a choice of trainings to meet their individual needs. The plan’s scope and sequence should prioritize what teachers can learn and do together. Using teacher teams as a key focal point for collaborative learning and planning is an essential part of an effective professional development plan.

Guiding Questions

New normal situation, a girl on a dress resting on a couch while telecommuting with her laptop and her tablet. She takes notes at the time she's doing a videochat with her co-workers and mask on table

  • Which topics will most effectively improve instruction for all students and especially those disproportionately affected by the impacts of COVID-19?
  • What schedule (e.g., embedded), structures (e.g., teams), and modes/delivery methods (e.g., collaborative, self-reflection) for professional development will best address these priorities?
Use these selected strategies and resources
High-leverage Strategies Aligned Resources

Clear Approach to Professional Development

Craft and share a professional development philosophy (also called a mission statement) that focuses on continuous improvement, promotes two-way communication, frames failure as a path toward improvement, and uses data to set big goals and monitor progress.

Learn and borrow from these K-12 Professional Development Philosophy and Goals focused on student needs and supporting teacher development. (

Learn and borrow from Professional Development Vision, Mission, and Commitments and its emphasis on continuous professional growth. (Long Beach Unified School District)

Input from Educators

To gather input from administrators and educators, conduct an online survey tool and use feedback forms for staff to share preferences for PD mode, time of day, topics (e.g., technology, trauma, equity and implicit bias, SEL); provide input on the usefulness of offerings; and offer other reflections.

This ready-to-go professional development survey template (Survey Monkey) has 5 questions and takes 1 minute to complete.

Adapt this PD feedback form (Pennsylvania Department of Education) for staff to complete after a PD activity.

Balanced Professional Development Menu

Create or update a professional development plan to include:

  • Required and optional opportunities on high-interest, high-need topics including the subsections on this page
  • Resources and supports that teachers can access as needed

Include PD directly on converting In-Person Activities to Distance Learning Activities. This article (WestEd) explains how “many of the strategies educators and leaders use during in-person settings can also be used in the distance learning environment — they just look a bit different.”

Give teachers agency through the free COVID-19 Educator Help Desk, which connects teachers with experts who will answer online learning questions (Learning Keeps Going from ISTE and Ed Surge).

Principal Coaching

Principal coaching is strongest when it is grounded in the growth mindset and systems for continuous improvement.

This Guide to Coaching School Principals includes:

  • A framework for coaching principals
  • Guidance, strategies, and tools for using a continuum of coaching techniques for before, during, and after coaching meetings. (FHI 360 for the Minnesota Department of Education)

Online Communities for School Leaders

Provide administrators and school leaders access to networks or communities of practice that support continuous improvement, equity, and distributed leadership.

These principal professional learning networks are recommended for their focus on equity:

National Equity Project has:

@equityinst Twitter followers will join an online community interested in learning about innovative solutions for building more diverse, equitable, and inclusive learning and professional environments. (Equity Institute)

Online Coaching for School Leaders

Provide administrators and school leaders access to coaching that supports continuous improvement and distributed leadership.

The Always Ready for Learning Coaching Network is a coalition of leading education experts who work with district leaders to quickly determine concrete next steps and connect them with the tools they need to take action. This is a way for K-12 school district leaders to get FREE urgent and customized guidance. (Walton Family Foundation and Carnegie Corporation of NY).

See related resources in the section on Scheduling .