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So You Think You Can Dance is a hit television show now in its tenth season. One might think that since it is in its 10th season there is some formula to identifying the winner – the individual who dances best. However, the winner is not actually defined as the one who dances “best,” the winner is simply the “favorite.” That is, one of the video clips on the show’s website boasts, “The formula for what determines America’s favorite dancer remains a mystery.” This gets me thinking more about my questions:

So, you think you have professional development?

What do teachers think about it, i.e., do teachers think it is the best/great?

We recently spent 4 days with high performing teachers and leaders from elementary and middle schools in one district discussing the implementation and facilitation of professional development for teachers.  The focus was iTeacherSuite an online professional development opportunity for individual teachers or Teacher Learning Teams (Professional Learning Communities) to collaborate with each other and engage in content focused to achieve an important outcome – to engage students to learn and achieve.

Ratings for the session averaged “5.00/5.00 – Excellent” for providing information that was useful to what they do;”4.92″ for providing information and suggestions to help them improve as a leader; and”4.92″ for the overall session rating. This is what they said:

What information was helpful to you?

  • The importance of feedback driving my instruction and the development of a 30 day plan. Collaborate, collaborate, and collaborate!!!
  • “Using feedback to drive your learning tasks
  • Concrete procedures to help my teachers understand the “why”
  • The most important thing I learned today is that focused planning provides opportunity for student engagement and improved student achievement.           
  • Everything! This has really put together the 30 lesson plan to better prepare me to explain the process and value it brings to the classroom.          
  • The importance of feedback to not only the students but also the teachers. Also the breakdown of info from task to targets. 
  • The student must be at the center of what we do in the classroom. The focus must always be on what we can do to help them reach the target.   
  • I learned that targets, tasks and feedback are vital to student learning along with assessments; targets at the top of the summit and assessment at the base or vice versa.
  • Good/the more effective educators use these strategies (Who’s Engaged)    
  • I Learned the importance of feedback on student engagement; the 3 positives to 1 criticism; and the six rules of thumb    
  • The importance of feedback–and how important it is to plan feedback strategies       
  • Feedback/communication   
  • My most valuable experience today was the professional collaboration that occurred within my group..although uneven at first..we worked through it and presented a product          
  • Actively involve students in the feedback process
  • 3 positive to 1 negative      
  • The learning that is expected to go in a classroom begins with what students want to know and how the teacher interacts with students to get to get to that point. It is of utmost importance that the teacher use feedback strategies to guide instruction.  

What other items could have been included?

  • I wanted more learning target and task development. Loved working with the CCSS! Please let me know if there are more trainings.
  • Are you willing to help with basic training of groups of teachers? Thank you     
  • I enjoyed every aspect of this lesson/opportunity to learn, share, and most of all to grow. Thank you           
  • How does this school district want us to use this?
  • Give this training to as many START teachers as possible           
  • Incredible job/Thank you    
  • Great informative workshop that I hope makes a difference in my administrative abilities.   

The participants also emailed their suggestions for implementing this PD opportunity in their schools. One of their responses is below:

Here are my thoughts about implementation at my school:

I know that teachers will continue to hear more about Common Core standards in trainings over the summer, and they will also be trying to wrap their heads around … I think the best way to present is to model how Common Core standards can be broken down into learning targets (thinking through that student lens), and from there to pick tasks and feedback strategies that align to the targets.

We could emphasize student engagement, plenty of practice time infused with feedback, and valid assessment only after proper practice. The online component could be a way that we nurture these skills and discussion online. I think for now, we work up slowly to the 30-day plan because that would really freak some people out. I also think we need to work on the wording, so that this doesn’t seem like something new, but instead a way to better digest all the other new stuff coming our way. [It] really isn’t anything new, and should be the foundation for new strategies and standards…. I do think the broad wingspan of the Common Core standards creates a natural avenue…

So you think you have professional development? Ask teachers about it. We did. We asked them about delivery, about content, and about implementation. We asked them what information will help them in the classroom and working with teachers, and what they would have liked to have included which was not included. Each day they offered takeaways. Professional development is a time for teachers to improve their teaching practices – diagnose the need – one way to do this is to ask for feedback from high performing teachers.





In iTeacherSuite’s Who’s Engaged? Sandbox teachers work together or with an instructional coach or school leader to improve their teaching practices as they work toward becoming a highly effective teacher. The content of the online community aligns to the evidence-based content of the book Who’s Engaged? and the learning guides that accompany the book are aligned to Charlotte Danielson’s and Robert Marzano’s teacher evaluation frameworks.

So You Think You Can Dance video clip title retrieved online 05.15.2013 here.

iTeacherSuite introduces teachers to practical and research-based tools, resources, and online learning communities for the purpose of helping teachers become highly effective and engaging students to learn and achieve. Check out our Facebook page to connect with teachers and to share teaching strategies (https://www.facebook.com/iTeacherSuite) and our website at http://iTeacherSuite.com for free resources.

Our mission at Studer Education is to provide students with a great place to learn, teachers with a great place to teach, and parents with confidence that their children are getting a great education. Visit us online at http://studereducation.com. Studer Education is a division of Studer Group, ranked for the fifth straight year on the Best Small and Medium Workplaces by Great Place to Work® and a recipient of the 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.