My Journey Into PD

How I got from classroom teacher to consulting teacher in 19 easy steps

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No, seriously, it was easy.  I didn't start out my career with the intent on being a consulting teacher for my school district.  It started by "volunteering" to present at an after-school district-sponsered professional development.  That was once, several years ago.  Then, they figured out that I knew some stuff about using computers in a classroom (might have to do with my master's degree in Instructional Technology) and it was a slippery slope from there. Soon, I was being tapped for more district professional development sessions and finally I landed in my current position as STEM Consulting Teacher.  

When I talk to people outside my district, they are shocked by the amount of professional development our own district provides for us.  This year alone, I have been involved personally in 2 week-long sessions during the summer to help teachers develop their own technology skills to be better prepared to use tech in their classrooms, multiple after-school "PD Thursday" sessions (hour long sessions on specific topics), multiple full-day release planning days, and a collection of a teacher-led workshops that are attended by all teachers in the district.  Teachers who attend the out-of-contract sessions are paid with an honorarium or acquire district credits to accumulate on the salary scale.  What? We pay teachers for their time? Crazy talk!

Something that I see as unique to our district is the idea of just-in-time professional development.  The four consulting teachers (E/LA, math, STEM, differentiation) offer our services to teachers during the district sponsored professional development and offer individual appointments to any staff member.  Teachers and support staff can make appointments with any one of us to have personalize instruction, when they want it, on the topic they want.  This means that in the course of a day we could bounce around to several classrooms doing demonstration lessons, observing and offering feedback, supporting teachers as they give lessons in a new format, or providing instruction on how to use a new tool.  We often meet with teachers multiple times to make sure that they have everything they need to be successful.  

When I think about how to change the way professional development looks, I think about the unique way we provide PD to the teachers within our district and think that the most effective PD happens for the teacher when the teacher needs and wants it most.  When it can be personalized to the teacher and situation, then the teacher gets the most from the PD being offered.


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The "consulting teacher" is a 2-year position that is supposed to be 100%. We have 4 all together: E/LA, Math, STEM, Differentiation. We are based out of the district office, but we frequently roam to different school sites. We make appointments with teachers to be in their classrooms for any number of services, such as demonstration lessons, observations, or just to serve as an extra pair of hands when the teachers are trying out something new. The CTs apply for the position in the spring and, if they are hired, they are in the position for two years. At the end of two years, they return to a classroom assignment (but not necessarily the one they left).

I'm not sure why Thursday was chosen as the day as that was done before I joined the team. We have minimum days on Wednesdays to allow for professional development within contract hours. The Thursday sessions are outside of the contract hours and are offered as a paid or unit accumulation opportunity. I think that Thursdays work well because teachers have just one more day in the week after this session and that helps!

Photo of Charles Shryock, IV

Thank you for answering my questions! I was asking about Thursday because I've noticed my energy often drags toward the end of the week, which may or may not put me into a better frame of mind for professional learning.

I'm really intrigued by the idea of there being a "time limit" and a return to a classroom role. Also, I'm I wonder if consulting teachers emerge with skills/mindset that would help them enter team teaching scenario. (I think a lot about whether team teaching could help build collective efficacy within a school.)

I think there's good evidence to support the benefits of providing just-in-time personalized coaching. I hope you carry this forward into the Ideate phase.

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