In designing effective professional development, we try not to relegate ourselves to the standard "Sit & Get" model of content delivery. The same dynamic teaching and learning theory that we hope to see empowering our classrooms should be used to inform our professional development. What follows is a list of many of the other models of professional development that have proven effective for adult learners in general, and educators in particular.

ACTION RESEARCH a disciplined inquiry/investigation focused on a work-related (teaching and learning) question, topic, concern, or issue where data is collected, analyzed, interpreted, and action is taken to improve practice.

AFTER-ACTION REVIEWS a formal, structured, reflective process following an innovation or intervention to examine what worked and didn't work in order to improve future practice based on outcomes and multiple points of view.

CASE STUDIES the use of real or prepared descriptions to describe a practitioner’s approach to a particular situation, including what the practitioner was thinking and/or feeling, in order to elicit intensive discussion regarding the how’s and why's that would result in improved outcomes.

COHORT/CADRE the use of a model which involves a group of people who begin a professional development program at the same time and who support/mentor each other as they work toward the completion of the program.

CONSORTIUM a group identified by common needs with desired training outcomes; the group meets to identify and design professional development to meet their needs.

CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT/INSTRUCTIONAL PLANNING the structured, collaborative design of modules, units, lessons, assessments, etc. to increase understanding and mastery of critical knowledge/skills in alignment with district and/or state benchmarks and the identification of instructional strategies and techniques to enhance student achievement.

DATA ANALYSIS the structured, collaborative analysis of either specific or broad student, school, and/or district data (e.g., CMTs, suspension/expulsion rates, attendance) for the purpose of identifying strengths, needs, challenges, and resources in order to improve student achievement through strategic action.

DIRECT TEACHING/TRAINING giving or receiving topic specific information at appropriate readiness levels:   1) awareness; 2) skill-building; 3) program improvement; and/or 4) strategic planning/systems thinking.

DISTANCE LEARNING using internet and other technologies, text, audio, and/or video learning modules to access, share, and process new information and/or skills "off-site" or at a "distance" from "instructor" and "classmates".

EXAMINING WORK the completion, analysis, and evaluation of either student or colleague work in order to improve performance or the work itself.

EXAMINING/ASSESSING INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS the structured, collaborative review of instructional materials (e.g., texts, software, manipulatives) to determine their effectiveness in addressing and supporting specific instructional objectives and their alignment with district and/or state benchmarks so as to increase student mastery of critical knowledge/skills.

FACILITATED DISCUSSION GROUPS interdependent individuals with different points of view who present, evaluate, and analyze predetermined topics, questions, issues, or concerns within a group setting utilizing a facilitator who strives for whole group participation.

INDEPENDENT STUDY/RESEARCH learning designed by the individual who determines his/her own goals and selects the activities (e.g., reading various journal articles) that will result in the achievement of these goals.

INQUIRY the formulation of questions (either individually or collaboratively) about practice and the pursuit of answers to those questions involving the identification of a problem, data collection (from the research literature and classroom data), data analysis, and changes in practice followed by the collection of additional data.

INTERVIEWING asking questions of current, new, or potential users (students, staff, parents, stakeholders, etc.) to better understand their experience, readiness, interests, or needs regarding a practice/strategy/ innovation and how to more effectively meet their needs.

LEARNING CLUBS/BOOK TALKS a collaborative group effort (usually 4-8 members) that regularly gathers to informally dialogue and exchange information on a topic of high interest.

LEARNER-CENTERED STAFF MEETINGS use of all or portion of regularly scheduled group meetings as an opportunity to practice/apply team-building guidelines and strategies in order to put the learning of the team as the first priority.

LESSON STUDY an innovative practice used as a long-term school improvement strategy that involves the establishment of long-term goals and the measurement of lesson success through collaborative lesson planning, practice implementation, lesson evaluation, and lesson observation.

MENTORING/COACHING a formal or informal process carried out within the context of an ongoing, caring relationship in which an experienced person (serving as a role model) teaches, coaches, sponsors, encourages, counsels, and befriends a less experienced/new person for the purpose of promoting mutual reflection that results in professional and/or personal development for both.

NETWORKING a collegial community that comes together around a common theme in order to share information, provide mutual support, and share experiences.

OBSERVATIONS/SITE VISITS a tool involving the observation of peers, students, setting, self (via videotape) in a routine situation and includes reflection, analysis, and feedback about what was observed in order to outline an action plan for change to improve achievement/outcomes.

PEER COACHING a continuous growth process in which individuals purposefully discuss, observe, and share suggestions in order to help each other grow, reflect, and produce instructional or intervention decisions.

PROFESSIONAL GROWTH PROCESSES various assessment practices used by supervisors, peers, or self to improve and/or judge the quality of performance (e.g., performance appraisal process).

REFLECTIVE JOURNALING analysis of recording method (e.g., written, audio, video, web-based, etc.) utilized to capture experiences, feelings, insights, lessons learned, and thinking based on an ongoing process of self-understanding/discovery to identify growth and/or meaningful patterns over time in order to interpret the significance for an individual’s future work and/or to celebrate accomplishments.

REFLECTIVE DISCUSSION/PLANNING the process of teaching professionals how to learn and how to function as reflective practitioners, that is, making sense of their work in ways that are productive both for them and the individual’s they serve as they learn from their experiences.

SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT PROCESS/ACTION PLANNING the assessment of current practices and determination of a problem whose solution will improve student outcomes, including developing curricula, designing programs, changing classroom practice, or building knowledge/new skills.

SHADOWING/MODELING the process of following a student/colleague as they demonstrate specific skills and strategies in order to improve professional performance.

STUDY CIRCLES small (10-15 people), democratic highly participatory groups which meet from 4-6 sessions with a facilitator to address a critical public issue in a collaborative way by examining on issues from many view points progressing from sessions on personal experience to sessions on broader perspectives to a session on action.

STUDY GROUPS a collaborative group (usually 4-8 members) formed for in-depth, investigative purposes who meet regularly to analyze, reflect upon, dialogue about, and construct meaning on current, well-defined topics or issues.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS use of on-line computer networks (e.g., WebCT), video conferencing, or group conference calls for the purpose of mutual learning focused on a specific aspect of teaching/learning through questioning and sharing of learning products and experiences.

TRAINING OF TRAINERS preparation of a group of educators and/or family members who have become skilled in a practice/strategy/innovation to transfer the skills and information to other professionals and families through a training design which ensures a complete understanding of the practice to be taught and the increasingly complex skills needed to instruct others.

TUNING PROTOCOLS a structured, easily replicated method utilized individually or collectively to analyze, modify, or develop a process (e.g., team functioning) or product (e.g., rubric) in order to improve effectiveness.

VIDEO DISCUSSIONS viewing relevant videos (in part or whole) in small groups followed by dialogue and exchange in order to improve professional knowledge, skills, and attitudes and/or to establish shared meaning.

Prepared by SERC Consultants
Adapted from the work of ALAN ROWE, NSDC, and SERC.