The Professional Development Evolution: Goals & Personalized PD, Step 2 | Darcy Bakkegard | 9 Min Read

June 15, 2023

Step 1 of this series was published on May 15, 2023.

Teachers hold the power and potential to radically change students and help them grow into imaginative thinkers and problem-solvers. While the cost of professional development (PD) is warranted, the execution of PD is woefully inadequate and all too often does not shift teaching practice, let alone student outcomes. More importantly, most professional development does not model best practices in teaching or cultivate 21st Century collaboration and problem-solving skills, which are the very skills we say we want to pass on to students. 

What if professional development were seamlessly integrated into the day-to-day operation of every school? What if schools collaborated to bring together relevant training? What if professional learning was about not just developing skills but solving challenges and breaking down barriers to teacher and student success? What if the acts of learning and growing as teachers were joyful? 

When done well, professional development (PD) can keep people in the profession, help address teacher burnout, and improve the conditions for teaching and learning. The first step to more meaningful professional development is adding the time and structure for the systematic implementation of inspirational PD. The second step is to honor the individuality of staff members and replace district-mandated training with goal-oriented, personalized PD that simultaneously cultivates new skills while elevating the expertise of educators.  

Goal Oriented & Personalized

As more and more schools embrace the ‘Portrait of a Graduate’ as a way for students to document growth and proficiency, teachers need a ‘Portrait of a Teacher’ that encourages the same focus on reflection, growth, and proficiency. Rather than professional development as an extra that is completed for license renewal or training tacked on because we have to do something, let’s embed teacher improvement, and therefore PD, into our day-to-day conversations on teaching and learning. Great professional development should be, as Joel Backon, editor of Intrepid, noted in this very publication,

“informed by the needs and goals of the school and individual teachers and implemented in a manner that leads to improved practices and better decision-making.”

Joel Backon

Whether you utilize the Danielson or Marzano models or something else entirely, the art and science of teaching require us to reflect on our practice and detail steps for improvement. This process of reflection is a…

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Darcy Bakkegard

Darcy is a change consultant and co-founder of The Educators' Lab. After more than a decade in the classroom teaching English and theatre, Darcy now creates the type of PD she always wanted, driving change in education and empowering teachers as changemakers. Through her work, teachers reconnect with their purpose, rekindle their spark for teaching, and reignite the JOY of teaching and learning. She specializes in professional development design and implementation, interactive strategies for the classroom, meaningful tech integration, and building relationships with students. Darcy holds a Master’s of Secondary Education, is an ISTE Certified Educator, an experienced international presenter, and believer in the power of education. She lives in Fargo, ND with her husband Jeff, and toddler triplets, Kurt, Ben, and Cora.