Professional development in current times is still traditional in the sense that many sessions are workshops, lectures, or short-term initiatives lacking in support, collaboration, and job-embedded training. In order to create professional learning that is effective and long-term, experiences must be customized, relevant, and incorporate the 5 principles of effective professional learning which are detailed in the Professional Learning Plan on this page (Sterling, 2018). Pineapple charts have been around for a while, but they are proven to build collaboration, unity, and positive school culture. This is why I have chosen to implement a pineapple chart as a form of alternative professional development on my campus. Staff members will not only benefit from new strategies gleaned from other classrooms, but they will be able to develop a plan of action with their peers to implement these strategies as a way to improve their current instruction. New strategies can include content-specific strategies, general transitional practices, classroom management techniques, or even initiative-specific activities related to Capturing Kids' Hearts, Balanced Literacy, Guided Math, or Seidlitz (all district-wide initiatives). Using the continuous feedback cycle, teachers will be supported and the training will be something that is sustained and constantly improved upon over time. Also, it is important to remember that professional development can be customized, personal, and meaningful when it is delivered in smaller crowds and facilitated by people such as campus instructional coaches during a Professional Learning Community (PLC) setting (Gulamhussein, 2013). Job-embedded training that involves collaboration and networking has been proven to be the new and most effective way of growing and learning in the academic profession (Reseau, 2016). Using the model I have developed with the pineapple chart will satisfy all of the requirements needed to maximize potential.
Our district has been participating in instructional rounds for a few years now because of an initiative known as Seidlitz. Teachers go to different campuses to observe teachers using a specific set of strategies. They are given a specific rubric with specific instructions on how to complete the document. Then, the observed teacher along with the people that observed gather in a room together to dissect each element, debrief with the instructional leader, and they are sent out into the world to implement strategies based on that encounter. There was a great, positive response from this type of professional learning. However, the rest of the district's professional development consisted of workshops, break-out sessions, and guest speakers that outlined a new initiative in the form of a 4-hour course highlighting the major components and reading a presentation from a screen. According to Beatty (2000), these types of professional development experiences are not successful, with only 8% of teachers actually transferring the session into action within their classroom. After conducting a few interviews regarding professional development and the impact it has on our teachers, I came to the realization that teachers enjoy participating in instructional rounds, and they wish they could do it more often for different reasons, not just Seidlitz. I had heard of a few campuses participating in pineapple charts around the district, so I did some research and developed an idea for our campus. What if teachers could informally observe any classroom at any time of day to glean new techniques for their classroom? It would develop not only relevance and new skills but also a collaborative, positive culture! When people are allowed to collaborate authentically and are given opportunities for self-directed professional learning, an organization can change in a major, positive way (Beatty, 2000).
I have created a call to action presentation that hopefully inspires the staff to use a pineapple chart that I created. This presentation includes a visual timeline of our campus for the last 4 years, a re-introduction to our campus mission statement, and a description of what the professional learning experience will look like as we go through the process. The premise is that each staff member must sign-up on the digital pineapple chart at least once a month to allow people into their room at a certain time on a certain day. They can have an "open door" for an entire day or a specific time slot depending on their comfort level. They will also have the option to record their lesson so that it can be added to the digital pineapple chart for staff members that were not able to attend the lesson for whatever reason. Staff are also required to visit a classroom at least once a month to participate in informal observations using an observation form that was created prior to the professional learning exercise. While each staff member is required to do one per month, in order to encourage more participation, for every extra classroom observed, they will earn an entry for a prize drawing that will be announced once a month. Teachers may observe during their planning period, during their PLC time, or request someone to watch their room so that they can observe at any time of day. Instructional coaches will use the pineapple chart and observation document to model what the informal observations should look like.
When developing this professional learning experience, it was very important to incorporate the 5 principles of effective professional learning.
Using these 5 principles, I developed a 3-Column Table that outlines the particulars of the professional learning experience. The PD plan (included below) describes the layout and timeline of when each component will take place. Having ownership over the learning is the most significant factor in successful professional learning. Teachers should have the ability to choose what they learn because it fits their best interests. Initiating a pineapple chart is the best way to meet all the needs of the staff and develop a culture that is thriving in collaboration and positivity. This chart will be automatically updated each time someone signs up, and teachers will be able to submit the Google Form automatically so that it can be read by the teacher that was observed. Once the observations take place, the instructional coaches will meet with the teachers during their PLC time to discuss specifics and pinpoint a new technique to implement. This cycle will repeat continuously, growing the knowledge and skills of our teachers and affirming current practices that are effective.
Beatty, B. R. (2000). Teachers leading their own professional growth: self-directed reflection and collaboration and changes in perception of self and work in secondary school teachers. Journal of In-Service Education, 26(1), 73–97. http://doi.org/10.1080/13674580000200102
Gulamhussein, A. (2013). Teaching the Teachers Effective Professional Development in an Era of High Stakes Accountability. Center for Public Education. Retrieved from http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/system/files/2013-176_ProfessionalDevelopment.pdf
Réseau, L. (2016). Innovation That Sticks Case Study - OCSB: Collaborative Professional Development [YouTube Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUusuw-xdr4
Sterling, S. (2018, May 21). 5 Principles of Professional Development for Teachers. Retrieved March 20, 2021, from Edmentum.com website: https://blog.edmentum.com/5-principles-professional-development-teachers