Professional Development Plan.  Connecting with Students and Students with Content.

Professional Development Plan.  Connecting with Students and Students with Content.

Scott Flynn

Wayne State College

Professional Develop Plan. Connecting with Students and Students with Content.

Professional development is a self-directed process in which the individual looks at where they are in the classroom as far as instruction, interaction with students, and the results of prior interactions.

Professional development, at its core, is about setting goals that you, as an educator, set.  These goals should be easily achievable due to the fact that these are goals you see as important for yourself. Too many times, goals are only set by outside forces so the individual has no buy in.  Educators simple see it as a “hoop to jump through” rather than a time to reflect, develop, and implement self-improvement.  As a new teacher, most of the early, so called, professional development was focused on looking at data or learning about a new teaching technique.  One key component I heard in the earlier years of teaching from veteran teachers during professional in-service was, “they must have found someone 60 miles away with a new technique on this or that.”

According to Hargreaves & Fullan, (1992) “What a teacher knows and believes about teaching, about learning, about curriculum, and about herself and her students are quite important to professional development.” (p. 78) The class I am taking through Wayne State has reenergized my thinking about teaching.  It has been 25 years since I first stepped into a classroom, my head full of ideas from my methods classes and student teaching experience. The longer I’ve taught, the more I felt I was becoming stale in my thinking about teaching. The class has already required me to look at what I currently do and ask why. My favorite book so far has been the “Book of Learning and Forgetting” by Frank Smith (1998). The comparison between the classic view and the official theory has made me think about every lesson I have taught since completing this book.

Goal Setting for Professional Development

Our district made a major change on how professional development and goal setting was going to be done. Blair Community Schools adopted the Scales and Evidences for the Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model. (2013) This model allows buy in from both the administration and teacher. An administrator can assign a domain that they what the staff to focus on, and the staff then picks the design questions they feel they need to work on.  This model allows buy in from the teacher because the goals are of their own choosing. McGreal (1980) states that “It is particularly important that school districts identify early what they see as the primary purpose of their evaluation system” (p. 414) This is the second year of adoption for Marzano’s Teacher Evaluation Model, and for the first time I feel I have a direct say in my goals and professional development.

The district’s shift away from a traditional evaluation system to a focus on “instructional improvements, teacher growth and increase self-confidence are the primary purpose of setting goals,” (McGreal, 1980) teachers feel more comfortable about taking risks in self-improvement. They can try different ways of presenting instruction and curriculum without the worry of failure.  However, the key to this type of professional develop and goal setting is reflecting on each goal and writing up that reflection for administration. During the reflection process teachers have an opportunity to state all of the positives and negatives of each goal which allows for growth.

Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins (2017) says, “What is the power of goals? Why do we talk about them so much? Why do we need to use them? Why are they important? Answer, with goals we create the future in advance. We create our destiny. We shape our lives.” In order to achieve goals, you need to have a road map with a destination, your goals. Too many times, we state goals in education, but we don’t take or are not given the time to develop the steps needed to achieve our destination. This lack of planning too easily leads us away from our goals. Tony Robbins (2017) tells us to “write (our goals) for six straight minutes, everything you can image that would be a personal development goal for you.” If we just say them in passing or set them just to meet the need of administration we are not laying out our goals. We must write them down, post them somewhere we can reflect on them, adjust them if needed. During a trip to a destination we often take detours, different routes than when we started. The key to goal setting is writing them out.  Every year, at the beginning of the basketball season, I would sit down by myself first, and then later with the senior players and write our goals for the season. I would always ask the seniors to start small and general with team goals, and then move to personal goals. The last goal, I told them, could be set after all other goals were completed. This goal is what they thought a good record would be? I never wanted them to do that first. I would ask them what would be a successful season? From there we would divide the season into three parts: Before Christmas games, conference games, and district games. We would break down what we wanted our record to be after each section. My goal for them was to break down a season so if we met those goals for that section we would call it a success. I posted those goals for the season and brought them up with the team before and after each game.

Professional Development Plan

My professional development plan and goals for this year are taken from the Teacher Evaluation Model from Marzano. The four goals that Mrs. Becky Back and I have chosen for this school year are as follows:

First, we will evaluate the effectiveness of individual lessons and units by discussing the results of quizzes and tests.

We will group our students based on data from the most recent MAPS test and those students on IEPs. If we come across a difference we will then discuss how we taught that particular topic. After completing the comparison of each summative, we will review each lesson and/or project to make changes or improvements as needed.

Second, we will develop students’ engagement for each lesson by using academic games to increase student engagement and cooperation.  We will use the following website to promote this goal. Quizlet Live, Kahoot and Quizizz.

Koning (2016) description of Quizlet Live:

It’s designed to bring fresh energy into classroom. Teams of students work together, racing to learn the material in a Quizlet study set. Correct answers move teams ahead, but wrong answers send teams back to zero. In order to win, students need to communicate with each other to make sure they pick correctly.

Unlike Quizlet Live, Kahoot! is not a collaboration game but rather,

Kahoot! is a tool for using technology to administer quizzes, discussions or surveys. It is a game based classroom response system played by the whole class in real time. Multiple-choice questions are projected on the screen. Students answer the questions with their smartphone, tablet or computer. (Valley City State University)

According to Vincent (2015), there is some important difference between Kahoot! and Quizizz.

Vincent (2015) states:

Quizizz takes a different approach. No projector is necessary because players see questions and answer options on their own screens. The question order is randomized for each student, so it’s no easy for players to cheat. With Quizizz, players don’t have to wait for the whole class to answer a question before they continue to the next one.

Third, we will use physical movement and art to engage students.

Oh! Deer! activity adapted from Project WILD (“Oh! Deer!”, 1986)

“Oh Deer” is a simulation game where students become “deer” and components of habitat. This activity emphasizes the most essential things that animals need in order to survive. This game will also show how animal populations increase and decrease from year to year and that limiting factors are the cause of the population change.

Provide opportunities for student to talk about themselves and apply their artistic ability is another one of our goals. Our students create Super You posters.  For the Super You Poster, students draw a head to toe picture of themselves doing something they enjoy, such as a hobby or activity. The student then labels ten quantitative items and ten qualitative items about themselves.  Next, we have other students make observations and then infer what the student’s favorite activity or hobby is on a piece of paper.

Finally, we will provide clear learning goals and scales for students using standards.

We do this by providing students with study guides before every summative assignment with key terms highlighted. We also provide rubrics before each project for both students and teachers to fill out in order to compare how each of us assesses the project.  If there is a disagreement on a mark we can then have a conversation in order for each side to present why they feel their mark is correct.

In summary, my goal for the students is for them to connect with the science content in a meaningful way by using the tools provided for them in class, such as, review sheets, online review games, art projects, labs and activities that require movement.  I want my students to know that I am looking at all aspects of their seventh-grade science experience from assessments to projects to how the class flows each day. When they leave seventh grade they will have a strong understanding of science concepts, how to engage with peers to discuss those concepts and use those experiences to better understand the world around us.

I want them to feel connected to their classmates, their teacher, and finally to the content that is covered in seventh-grade science at Otte-Blair Middle School.


(n.d.). Retrieved from Valley City State University:

Hargreaves, A., & Fullan, M. (1992). Understanding Teacher Development. New York, New York: Teachers College Press.

Koning, S. B. (2016, April 18). Introducing our first collaborative learning game for the classroom: Quizlet Live. Retrieved from Quizlet:

Marzano, R. J. (2013). Scales and Evidences for the Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model. Learning Science Marzano Center.

McGreal, T. L. (1980). Helping Teachers Set Goals. Educational Leadership.

Oh! Deer! (1986). Project WILD.

Robbins, T. (2017, March 3). Goal Setting. Retrieved from Motivational Guru:

Smith, F. (1998). The Book of Learning and Forgetting. New York, New York: Teachers College Press.

Vincent, T. (2015, December 12). Class Quiz Games with Quizizz (an Alternative to Kahoot). Retrieved from Learning in Hand:

Professional Development Plan – PDF




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