Professional Development Approach: COD Pilot

Professional Development Approach: COD Pilot

At the heart of most conversations leading into and through any change or pilot is professional development. Our Combine Our Devices digital learning pilot is no different. Since “how are you approaching professional development” both with the pilot and potentially with the full staff is one I’m frequently being asked these days, I thought I’d share a bit here.

Capacity Building

More than anything, professional development isn’t about what you do once you’ve determined the change or the pilot. It is all about the capacity building long before the major shift. In this case, we’ve been building capacity for this pilot for over four years with the following core experiences that I speak about in my “Learning” presentation:

  1. Blended Learning Experience
  2. Google Experience
  3. Networked Public Experience
  4. The Agency Experience
  5. Third Teacher Experience

This doesn’t mean that the above experiences are at a level of mastery with each teacher nor does this mean there is no room for growth there. However, there are many colleagues with expertise and there is a common language that doesn’t make the ideas within these entirely foreign. Because of this capacity building, the idea of organizational readiness is quite different and thus the focus of professional development can be honed to the individual to a much greater degree.

Strategic PD Approach

Our professional development approach for the pilot is broken down into various parts with each strategically targeting a specific goal from networking and exposure to pedagogical exploration.  It is broken down into four categories: Whole-Group, Personalized PD, Just-in Time, and Optional.

Whole Group Experiences
Whole group experiences are built to provide common experiences that are beneficial to everyone. Most importantly, these serve to provide us with the chance to grow together via networking and collective knowledge. The first three are intended to be messy and lead into the personalized PD plan
  1. Week One: Pilot Kick-Off and Device Play Time
    The target is to explore and play with the devices without any formal introduction. This is to determine the degree to which the device requires specifics – the intuitive factor.
  2. Week Two: Google Kick-Off
    The target is to collectively explore a wealth of Google tools that can be used regardless of discipline with the hope of each person garnering 1-2 ideas for the pilot while also growing in familiarity with the devices. This is important to be led by someone outside of the school so we are all learners on this day.
  3. Week Three: Site Visit
    The target is to experience a one to one classrooms within the teacher’s discipline, garner 1-2 ideas for the pilot implementation, and understand the devices to a greater degree. Through dialogue and observations, the hope is you’ll gain a greater sense of comfort and direction while also establishing a network outside of our school
  4. One Week Prior to Classroom Launch: 1:1 Strategies
    The target is to collectively discuss experiences and strategies that will be common to all:  management strategies, distraction strategies, innovative ideas, and logistics.
  5. Mid-Pilot: Group Share
    The target of this is to collectively share what is/isn’t working, possible ideas, and innovative ideas.
Personalized PD Experiences
After Week Three above, the messiness established continues to “clean up” and we are ready to develop a Personalize PD plan. The goal is maximize each person’s time and to tailor learning to the individual teacher’s goals.


These personalized PD experiences are developed on a Google Doc during an individual debrief session with the pilot teacher and the professional development team:
  • Coordinator
  • Cross-Discipline Tech Advisor
  • Discipline Specific Tech Advisor
  • Librarian
  • Student Leader
  • Tech Trainer

Just-in Time PD Experiences
In my opinion this is equally if not more important than the Personalized PD plan. Throughout the pilot, the professional development team will be providing support based upon needs that arise, classroom visits, and ongoing discussions with pilot members. The goal is to provide the layered support for learning, teaching, and management issues in order to continue promoting growth.

Optional PD Experiences
There are many informal and formal PD experiences available. The goal is to encourage pilot teachers to explore innovative growth opportunities that fit areas of interest such as the Flipped Learning Summit at Glenbrook North, the ICE Conference, and the Chicago Google Summit at Glenbrook North.

So what is missing? What do you like? Dislike?


  1. Just curious about the photo used for this post. Did your school actually implement a Chromebook and Nexus 7’s concurrently? I’ve been pushing for the our school do move in this direction, but haven’t found anyone else doing it.

    • Hi Mark:

      The photo is from our IDEA where we launched the pilot. The students are exploring both the Nexus and Chromebooks.

      • we are using 48 nexus tablets. We could not allow students to sign into Google and have more than 5 students use a devise. Do you have 1 devise per student?

        • We are one device per student.



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