Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for PD

What if each teacher had their own IEP or rather an IPDP (Individualized Professional Development Plan)

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UDPATE 1/12/16 (Scroll to the bottom to learn about protto!)

As a special education teacher, each of my wife's students have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that guides their learning. The key to the IEP's effectiveness is not the the plan itself, but the teachers role in helping each student meet it.

In a Teachers Guild video call today I listened to a great story about a school where teachers rotate through a role designed to help other teachers  achieve their PD goals.

It got me thinking. What if each teacher had an individualized PD plan and each school had a teacher/mentor/guide who was responsible for ensuring that those teachers were getting the 1-on-1 mentorship needed to meet their goals?

This solution is not only about voice and choice, but also about building a peer support structure that makes PD more meaningful, deep, and applicable.

[After posting this - I found another post by Jessica M. that captures this idea really really well - check it here]



Below is a revised outline that combines elements from several ideas - and merges some of the awesome ideas @Jessica Mossman  started with her post - linked above.

Overview: (What’s this idea about)

This idea is about building a peer support structure that makes PD more meaningful, deep, and applicable as well as about voice and choice. It also builds a self sustaining structure, and culture of growth.

Potential For Impact: (Why is this an idea that promotes continued growth?)

This idea promotes continued growth because teachers would have a support structure around them, including the personal guidance of a PD Mentor. That Mentor would not be a part-time guide, but a fully-invested professional whose sole focus is advancing learning and development for their clients. They could be an administrator - a fellow teacher (or community of teachers) fulfilling a different role - or some hybrid.

This Idea also pairs with it tools for collaboration, community building, tracking, and self assessment.

Value Prop/Pitch: (How would you pitch this to other teachers in your school? Your principal? Etc)

What if you could reinforce the passions that guide you?

What if you could rekindle your love of teaching by further developing the things you love most about it?

What if you could do all those things and grow as a professional while setting your own learning goals, objectives and opportunities.

What if there were a tool to help you track your progress, identify areas of interest, and give you self-directed control.

And what if there were someone there beside you the entire way - coaching you, encouraging you, and creating learning opportunities for you to explore.

How’d I get this idea off the ground?

To get this idea off the ground we could first identify a district willing to devote resources to either create one or more full time positions solely focused on mentoring other teachers and creating learning experiences tailored specifically for each individual. Or building a community of teachers who have a financial incentive to serve as peer mentors and instructors for specific areas of interest.

We could then work with them to build a structure or series of tools which would guide the mentor and allow the teacher to set specific learning objectives and guideposts of their own choosing. It could be formatted similar to a university level Independent study. or it could use badging or gamification.

How  you can get started:

Investigate student IEP’s, University Independent study, badging and microcredentialing systems, and other individualized learning opportunities in more detail and identify analogous tools, structures, or metrics that we can borrow from or utilize outright.

Borrowed Thoughts!:

Below are borrowed ideas from other posts which might help facilitate this idea.

1. Ideas from Jessica's Original Post.

Teachers use their own reflection, data, or feedback from a PD MENTOR/ADVISOR to set 1-2 professional development goals for approximately a 9 week period.

The teacher and Mentor/Advisor create a plan of action and personalized learning for the teacher. 

The Mentor/Advisor can then facilitate the individual plan in various ways. The plan may require the teacher to have a substitute in his/her classroom for a block of time so he/she is available to carry out the plan. One plan period a week or weekly PLC time may be devoted to working with the Mentor/Advisor to carry out the plan. At the end of the time period, the teacher reflects on their growth and adjusts or resets goals for the next period of time.

2.Pairing an Individual Learning Plan with a full time advisor whose only role is to facilitate ways for learners to achieve their goals. The individualized plan could be one that is updated frequently (at least more than annually - preferably several times a year or any time the learner's goals change).

As well , this plan could be structured and implemented in an "Inspirational" vs managerial or bureaucratic fashion - boasting less prescribed structure and more individual freedom for the learner.

3. It could begin with some degree of self assessment and exploration to identify where the learner wants to personally go, where they currently stand, what gaps need to be addressed to reach their goals, and what experiments or experiences might be worth exploring along that journey.

4.The journey could be co-planned with the advisor and the learner (with the advisor serving much like a travel agent). Emphasis could be placed on experiences that take the learner outside their comfort zone to a place where all experiences would be new, challenging, and slightly uncomfortable.

5.In addition to providing regular check-ins, guidance, and moral support - the advisor could take an active role in managing all of the logistics required for a learner to achieve their goals. This could include scheduling external field trips, day long explorations, attendance at conferences, or one on one interviews with other peers or industry professionals. This could even include scheduling substitutes or getting administrative permissions.

6.lastly the most important role of the advisor could be to serve as instigator, enabler, and partner in crime in pushing the learner to do more than simply "check the box" - but rather engage in a regular process of self exploration and renewal.

EVOLVED 1/5/16 Per@JohnFaig  @jessicalura & @chrisgood


The Professional Teacher Training Optimizer (Protto) is a collaboration platform that makes it easy to track the development and achievement of teaching-related skills.  Protto is a badge-based system that works equally well with live and online learning.  The key is to provide a way for teachers to improve their craft at an individual pace and provide a way to build additional capacity as teachers elevate to trainers.


  • All teachers have dedicated mentors, which could be fellow teachers at their school,  teachers at another school, or a full time dedicated PD mentor (depending on the school systems resources or configuration)
    • mentor teachers who participate in the program may receive a stipend 
    • online trainers could also get small stipends based on their effort
      • maybe schools that sign-up pay a fee to fund these stipends?
  • peers could suggest PD opportunities, classes, or programs for teachers (hence referred to as "badges")
    • administrators could recommend badges for teachers
  • over time, the system will make automated suggestions, based on collections or badges from other teachers
    • also known as pathways


  • badges refer to skills available to learn
    • badges are qualified:
      • expected time to master
        • hours/days/weeks
        • show statistics based on mastery time from other teacher
      • comfort level
        • little risk
        • some risk
        • pushing comfort level
    • publish directory of tutors that have mastered the same badge
      • tutors have levels that indicate continued learning and enhanced mastery
  • demonstrating mastery can be done many different ways and some representative learning artifacts are stored in a digital learning portfolio
    • along with feedback from supervisors and trainers
    • along with periodic self assessment


  • create plan based on collection of badges
  • plan should include a range of badges should based on various time and comfort levels
  • teachers self-assess upon completion of a badge
    • teacher could be asked to self-assess/reflect at various time intervals (after earning a badge) to show continued interest and development
      • continued interest builds confidence
      • self-assessment request could come from a supervisor or a trainer
      • should “ignored” badges be highlighted as “abandoned”
        • good to create some pressure to continue learning
        • good way to spot trends in PD of skills teachers no longer value


  • When launching the program, Protto may require facilitation by mostly external instructors.
  • Over time, as teachers progress through the PD learning ranks, they may be asked to become instructors as part of their own development.
  • Eventually the majority of instructors in the system are district teachers who have mastered a PD topic and are teaching it to their peers for their own development credit.

IMAGINE IF....(A narrative prototype for how Protto might work)


Mr. Belfore is a new teacher and is eager to start his career and use what he learned in graduate school.  After several observations by his supervisor and peers, he meets with his supervisor (Ms. Aftrye) and devises a conducts a self assessment followed by the development of a professional development plan.

Mr. Belfore's personal and individualized learning plan tackles a variety of learning objectives across several different scales and scopes. some less intensive, others more-so.  Each puts him on a pathway that is designed for a specific outcome and introduces new challenges every several weeks or months.

 Mr. Belfore and Ms. Aftyre use Protto to select several badges to work on over the next several years.  Mr. Belfore will work on some of the badges with a mentor in his own school.  He is also excited to work on badges with trainers from other schools (i.e., online trainers) and work on online content as time permits.  His Mentor is as much cheerleader as is his a facilitator is serves to help inspire Mr. Belfore along his PD journey.

Protto is a powerful professional development tools that helps all types of users progress towards mastery (i.e., badges) and collaborate.  Teachers use Protto to find relevant badges, track their progress, provide periodic self-assessment and reflection, and store learning artifacts to demonstrate mastery.  Mr. Belfore can also see what badges his peer teachers have earned.  For areas of great interest, he can work to become a trainer himself.

Mr. Belfore is working towards the following skills:

  • Using Excel to generate individualized math problems
  • Using Google Presentation to create an icebreaker
  • Moderating an online discussion
  • Creating a differentiated classroom using stations
  •     Working with students to create an assessment for an independent study 


Trainers like using Protto because it simplifies record-keeping and make sit easy to find engaged students.  Once a badge is earned, trainers continue to evolve their mastery through levels.  Levels are created by supervisors and other trainers and show a relative level of mastery and are a way for students to select trainers.  


Ms. Aftyre likes Protto because it makes supervision easy, and teachers and trainers can progress at their own pace.  She can make recommendations about badges that would be useful for Mr. Belfore.  She may feel like he should bolster certain skills.  There may also be a need to bolster certain skills as a resource for his team.  Ms. Aftyre uses Protto to spot trends.  She can see which in-house trainers and skills are being used the most and least.  Likewise, she can identify important resources that her school may be lacking.  The time data is particularly critical as she evaluates various pedagogical changes against weighs them against priorities and available resources. Protto also allows the supervisor to identify conflicts between Mr. Belfore's schedule and various learning activities. This allows the supervisor to schedule substitutes or make arrangements on behalf of Mr. Belfore to free up his schedule in advance.

One Year Later

Mr. Belfore's skill development in using Google Presentation has really inspired him. He had progressed quickly and has started sharing his learning with this fellow teachers. To achieve the last badge related to this topic he was asked to become a trainer for entry level badge earners. As he works to train his peers, he learns high level credits for his efforts. In the meantime he has started work on his next pathway, "Creating Differentiated Classrooms"


Join the conversation:

Photo of Kecia Waddell

This idea is my life's work...
I have supported students with learning disabilities and emotional impairments for 19 years using principles of Universal Design for Learning. I want a broader reach by empowering teachers--THE SECRET SAUCE--in the lives of students. The academic needs are great in public schools and anxiety runs high among the adults in charge... The Teacher IDPD is a great idea!!

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