Build a better PD calendar

Why should a PD calendar match a school year calendar? Teachers need time to implement new training and reflect on its effectiveness.

Photo of Ashley Haskins
6 4

Written by


Check out our GoogleDoc here

Build a Better PD Calendar and include the JOT (Just One Thing) Model for technology.

Overview:  Let's build a Better PD Calendar that segments training into 5 Domains to create a clear, focused and balanced Professional Development plan. Let’s offer technology training in a JOT (Just One Thing) model to quickly inspire and infuse information for teachers at their site.

Potential For Impact: All teachers in the district will understand a clear and focused Professional Development goal for the year.  Participants will feel impact and demonstrate growth in the specific domains determined by this goal.

Value Prop/Pitch: 

At the beginning of every school year (August- May) teachers are preparing their classrooms for their incoming students. Instructional materials have been purchased and planning has begun. This isn’t the best time for a district or school site to introduce their goal and offer professional development to meet that goal. My idea is for a district or school site to do this in March of the previous school year so then teachers can have time to prepare and design.  Then, in June, teachers can collaborate by subject or grade level and make preparations for the upcoming school year. Teachers need time to digest the new goals/ training and begin to plan together new ways to meet that goal.

In August or September, right before school begins, teachers are given an initial PD  in technology-related tools or content that may relate to the theme. This initial PD may have a series of concurrent or successive JOT Model PDs. There also may be a more lengthy overview of general systems and programs, depending on district needs. PD should be created to address the different skill levels and experience of staff.  In August or September, right before school begins, teachers are given professional development in technology. This is PD should be individualized to meet teachers’ specific skill level, By adjusting the PD calendar in this way, teachers will be able to implement their ideas for starting the new school year.  Then, during September- January teachers would be actively participating in authentic implementation  all the professional development invested.  Also, during this time, September to January, teachers can opt to pursue Professional Development that includes their passion projects or their special interests. By building a better Professional Development calendar in this way, we will keep the new training relevant. Finally, in Mid January and into February, through improved implementation procedures, teachers will evaluate the PD from the current year, in preparation for the new focus for the upcoming year, which would begin again in March.

How do I get this idea off the ground?

Collect information regarding needs & interest of teachers.

Determine district priorities.

See attached proposed PD calendar and timeline

How  you can get started:

  1. Goal for the year is determined

Calendar planned (see attached google doc.)

  1. Interesting, innovative, and specific presenters are recruited to train technology. These may include community partners and professionals in education.
  2. Evaluate process at the end of the PD calendar (not school calendar) January- February


Pre-Survey or assessment, post-survey or assessment (survey is in process and will be complete on January 19th)

Materials to get this idea off the ground:

General Timeline for A PD Calendar (graphic in Google doc._)

Professional Learning Community procedures

Professional Learning Network procedures and schedule

March- District or School site will determine main goal for the upcoming school year “How Might We...” This goal will guide each PD domain and within each PD domain school sites and teachers will focus on addressing and meeting the specific goal.

April- 1 day Professional Development offered (Domain 1)Pedagogy training  to meet the goal “ How Might We...”

June- 3 day Professional Development offered (Domain 2) Curriculum Development| Grade or Subject alike PLNetwork meets to focus on meeting the goal. PLNetworks are formed and improved PLC practices are developed.

August -1 day  Professional Development (Domain 3) Technology|In August or September, right before school begins, teachers are given an initial PD  in technology-related tools or content that may relate to the theme. This initial PD may have a series of concurrent or successive JOT Model PDs. There also may be a more lengthy overview of general systems and programs, depending on district needs. This technology PD should be created to address the different skill levels and experience of staff. It would entail a clear outcome and would be procedural in nature. This is a way to clarify the use of existing devices, used in a district, use of online program or to simply introduce and expose interested teachers to potentially useful tools, with the goal of generating conversation throughout the site and district. This model can be used in any  content area where the topic can fit within the parameters.

Sept- January- 1 -2 day Professional Development (Domain 4) Personal Interest| Passion Projects| focused to meet the Overarching Goal.  ALSO within this 5 month time frame Let’s build an effective model to implement the Professional Development investment. (Domain 5) Implementation:

Septemeber- January (Domain 5) Implementing Professional Development

A Professional Learning Community (PLC) would be an onsite group of interested teachers committed to meeting 1-3 hours  each week to implement PD. The PLC would be comprised of a variety of grade level and/or single subject teachers from one site.

A coordinator would work with the PLC and district to coordinate and support the implementation and PLC process. They would also coordinate a weekly or bi-weekly opportunity for PLC’s from two different schools to meet as a Professional Learning Network. This process could be repeated throughout the school year visiting different school sites for ongoing implementation and developing practice and building community.

The Professional Learning Network (PLN) would be an opportunity for PLC’s to either host or visit a different school site. The PLN would meet for an hour and share strategies, conduct walk-throughs and build community.

February- March- 1- 2 days  Professional Development continued (Domain 5 ) follow up by grade or subject alike as a PLN to meet the goal “How Might We...” to share and reflect on what worked, what didn’t, and next steps.

Repeat Calendar

Evaluation results

13 evaluations so far

1. Do you love this idea?

Yes! I love this idea. - 100%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Kelley Dillon


I really appreciate your ideas about the PD calendar.  It seems there is always so much PD offered and so many opportunities for learning, that perhaps sometimes a central message or Big Idea gets diluted.  What I love is that your plan sets the tone/goals for the following year in Spring, well ahead of the new year which gives teachers the time to process and plan over the summer.  I know this would be greatly appreciated by them.

 What is nice is that the opportunity for passion projects is still there, which I believe is an important acknowledgement of the different interests and needs folks will have.

 I love the idea of walk-through as you include in the PLN.  I had the experience of beginning "Learning Walks" as we called them when I was principal, and it had the potential for being a very powerful collaboration and learning experience.  I would love to support that process!

Photo of Jeremy McDonald

  There definitely is a theme throughout a lot of these ideas, PD that is short, to the point, and consistent throughout the year. This, I think, is key-- teachers are overwhelmed in many cases with all they have to do, JOT is great especially with technology. Have  you thought about the idea of "spiraling" the tech PD throughout the year?

Photo of Ashley Haskins

I think spiraling tech through the year is extremely valuable! The follow up/ implementation of training provided is key to development. Yes! Let's build this into the model!

Photo of Ashley Haskins

David and Sarah,
I appreciate your feedback!
David, Yes. Your example is exactly right on! I left the model general so that it could be built on as you suggested. Regarding the JOT, I agree it should be short and simple as it relates to technology specifically. I would suggest a site or district choose Just One Goal as its overarching focus for the year and every PD opportunity AREA through the year supports meeting that goal.  
What are the next steps?

Photo of Sarah Lundy

Following a "How might we" throughout an entire year (and I love starting the cycle in the spring) could provide both depth & coherence. I love what you've offered & how David has built upon with the specific example of assessment which clarifies & emphasizes the potential power of this approach to professional learning for me.

Photo of David Casey

Great sequencing of PD days!
And I have a couple of clarifications to add:
My understanding is that JOT is quick and easy. I'm a bit confused by its connection to establishing one area of improvement for a year-long PD. Every teacher can have a JOT, but I'm thinking about moving a teacher along a continuum of knowledge, skills and understanding. Perhaps the areas you mention in each of the PD days throughout the year can be intertwined with the main focus, but at a quick glance it looks like too much breadth and not enough depth. Maybe this is what you're talking about:
For example, what if a school chose to look at assessment for a year. Then, in the PD days you mention, they could research, discuss, implement, review, practice, etc, during each of the days. They could look at pedagogy, technology, curriculum embedded assessments, etc, all of which will address the question, how might we re-imagine assessment.
Maybe this is exactly what you were referring to.
Either way, I like the structure you present. Our teachers, districts, governments and parents must all be informed of the need for teachers to work several days beyond the instructional calendar.
Thanks again for your contribution.
Dave Casey