By Susan Riddell
Videotapes or DVDs and schoolwide gatherings were once the norm when it came to providing teachers with professional development (PD), said Donetta Trimble, the professional development coordinator for the Kentucky Educational Development Cooperation (KEDC).
That is until five years ago when the eastern Kentucky educational cooperative decided to purchase PD 360, an online professional development tool that allowed teachers to access learning based on their individual needs and interests and on their own time.
They never looked back.
“It’s just amazing. You get so much out of it and at your own schedule, too,” Trimble said.
Now PD 360 is available free of charge to all Kentucky public school educators through the Continuous Instructional Improvement Technology System (CIITS).
Those videotapes and DVDs were the genesis of what is now PD 360, Trimble said. She remembers annually purchasing the video journals from School Improvement Network back in 1997 only to see it evolve to what it is now.
PD 360 currently includes more than 2,000 videos and other resources and features education experts, presenters and researchers as well as thousands of real teachers – including several based in Kentucky – in classrooms demonstrating best practices geared toward getting students college and career ready.
Jeff Stamper, KDE program consultant, said teachers can address immediate needs through PD 360, or they may have an observation conference with their principal with an item they need to review.
“They can go back to their classroom and locate something on PD 360 to address that need within minutes,” Stamper said. “They don’t have to wait until someone makes arrangements for them to attend some training in another location.”
PD 360 also has communities and groups that discuss different topics.
“If people search for a specific topic, they are likely to find 30 or 40 groups discussing it and offering suggestions,” Stamper said.
PD 360 and Kentucky’s Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (PGES) have been cross-referenced with the Kentucky Framework for Teaching in the Educator Development Suite in CIITS, Stamper added.
The Kentucky Department of Education recently provided online training sessions for district professional development coordinators that will be/is posted on the PD 360 website. Any PD 360 user may access those for a complete overview of the system.
“This means that every indicator observers could evaluate in a lesson has several videos linked to it for a teacher to reference following feedback from the observer,” he said. “Videos also are available for teachers to reference as they assess the needs of their students and determine they need to utilize additional strategies of instruction for struggling students.”
Todd County school district Superintendent Wayne Benningfield said his district plans on using the program as a central part of a PD plan for continuous improvement of instruction for students.
Benningfield became familiar with PD360 when he was coordinator of instruction and districtwide services for the Fulton County school district.
He said while at Fulton County he was looking for a way to train faculty in specific areas of need instead of relying on the PD-for-all approach.
The fact that PD 360 models best practices for teachers in varying grade levels and subject areas also appealed to him.
“It can be immediately implemented in the classroom,” Benningfield said. “Teachers can study the practice, see practical application and review continuously.”
School administrators also benefit from PD 360.
Monica Whitaker, instructional supervisor for the Johnson County school district, said her district relied heavily on PD 360 to move into professional learning communities for professional development, developing formative assessments and using assessments to adjust teaching for student learning.
It’s also a great tool for principals to use when evaluating teachers, Whitaker said.
“Principals have many jobs to do in a day, and one of them is to develop a mindset for professional growth,” Whitaker said. “PD 360 gives them access to real classrooms modeling a particular teaching skill.”
The program also has administrative tools that allow principals to view what topics teachers are researching so they can offer guidance and support, Stamper added.
Whitaker also noted the advantage it offers to new teachers. She said since districts face a constant flow of new teachers each year, access to PD 360 can be at their fingertips whenever someone new begins teaching in the district.
“Teachers are able to take control of their individual learning,” she said.
Continuous Instructional Improvement Technology System
Jeff Stamper, email@example.com, (502) 564-1479, ext. 4069
Donetta Trimble, firstname.lastname@example.org, (606) 929-2204
Wayne Benningfield, email@example.com, (270) 265-2436
Monica Whitaker, firstname.lastname@example.org, (606) 789-2530