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Personalized, Teacher-Led Professional Development Days

Modeling remote teaching practices during teacher-led professional development


As teachers shifted to remote and hybrid instruction, there was a desire to both share their best practices with one another and to crowdsource ideas as they were all going through a unique shared experience. For the district, there was a desire to model providing choice for teachers in order to encourage them to offer more choice-based activities in the classroom. For their spring semester professional development day, which took place remotely, the district hosted an opt-in teaching and learning conference with 150 different teacher-led sessions centered around remote, hybrid, and concurrent teaching.

"That's the power of that day to me. When teachers get the empowerment to choose what's relevant to them, I usually see that transfer into practice when they think about students. ‘Oh, if I could give a little choice or agency here, I might get more play for my students, just like I liked the day better when I was given that.’" - Nicole Ottmer, Personalized Learning Systems Coordinator


When preparing for their personalized professional learning day, one of the key tenets the district used to plan was to ensure that each teacher-led session modeled as much as possible for teachers the best practices to be used in remote, hybrid, and concurrent teaching models. To do this, the district supported teachers in their session planning process by providing them with a session design template that included guidance around how to plan and facilitate the session. The core elements of each session included:

  • a guide for direct instruction that modeled what instructional time with students could look like

  • an interactive practice piece, such as a breakout session to collaborate and capture key takeaways, a poll in WebEx, or an interaction in the chat

  • a closing with the opportunity to connect the session to the participants’ teaching context, review resources/skills learned, or extend for further learning

Each of these core elements to the session was intentionally crafted to model for teachers a variety of strategies, tools, and ideas that they could take with them and quickly implement in their own classrooms. Additionally, the concept of choice was a driving force of the day as teachers were given the agency to set intentions and goals for the day and choose which session(s) they wanted to attend in the hope that this learner agency that was provided to teachers would encourage them to provide choice and agency for their own students.

District leaders helped to create coherence across sessions by addressing quality in upfront design and creating common structures that supported follow-up learning. On the former, the district team offered session development check-ins and office hours. On the latter, every site leader (i.e. principal) hosted an end-of-day reflection session with their educators to make connections across sessions and identify areas for follow-up learning. All sessions were recorded and made available on the district’s Learning Management System; educators could review them on-demand and post comments for support.

This strategy is a part of TLA's Hop, Skip, Leapfrog release, which explores the concrete ways in which schools and systems pursued student-centered innovation during COVID-19. Explore the full guide to find additional strategies, insights, and resources.

Strategy Resources

Creating Guidelines and Coherence for Teacher-Led PD at D11

Nicole Ottmer, Personalized Learning Systems Coordinator at Colorado Springs School District 11 describes what resources... Learn More

Professional Learning Plan Intention Template

A planning document to be used prior to and after attending a professional development session... Learn More

Professional Development Reflection Document

A note catcher to be used to capture thoughts during and after professional development sessions... Learn More

Design Template for Teacher-Led Professional Development Session

A design template for a teacher-led professional development session with an emphasis on modeling strategies... Learn More