• Andrea Paulakovich

#DBC50Summer 7/50: The Four O'Clock Faculty

Within Rich Czyz's book, The Four O'Clock Faculty, he shares his core beliefs about professional learning. What do you believe? What were your biggest takeaways?

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What PD Was Meant to Be

CHOOSING relevant professional development. When was the last time you had a say in the process? Like our students, we each have different learning styles, different levels of knowledge, and different professional areas for growth. In order to ensure we are empowering and engaging educators in relevant professional learning, we need to begin by defining the Literacy of Effective Professional Development. What should PD include to be considered successful? Within Rich Czyz's book, The Four O'Clock Faculty, he shares his core beliefs about professional learning.

"Paul, what are you Core Beliefs about PD?"

1. "Professional learning should be meaningful."

2. "Educators should have a say in what they learn and how they learn it."

3. "Time is a precious thing. As educators, we never have enough of it. PD should never be wasted on meaningless activities."

4. "Lists of policies, reminders, and other forms of one-way communication are best left for emails."

5. "Professional development should focus on improving learning outcomes."

6. "When no one else cares, you should. Your professional learning is the responsibility of only one person: you."


As I finished exploring Mr. Czyz's Core Beliefs, he challenges you to share your beliefs about Professional Development. My beliefs.... Hmm??? I believe that you should always begin with the "Why." You should always connect what you are doing to the Professional Educator Standards and then make connections to the building/district's School Improvement Goals. Furthermore, I believe each and every teacher should have an Individualized Professional Learning Plan. Teachers should have the opportunity at the beginning of each school year to rate themselves on the Educator Standards. What are their strengths? Areas for growth? I also believe that principals and district administration should provide a district-wide professional development survey. It should include questions that will identify the learning styles of teachers, formats that would benefit their growth, topics that would meet the needs of their students, and the opportunity for them to share what they know and don't know about the focus topics for the year.

Here is a sample survey teachers completed this past year.

Once you compile the data, your next steps are vital. If teachers are unanimously telling you that they prefer a specific format, structure, or desperately need training on a specific topic, you CANNOT ignore their needs. This information should be utilized to determine the path you will take. I also believe that when PD is created two things should happen first. 1) Long Range Planning and 2) Lesson Plans. Yes, that is right! I believe that we all should be practicing what we preach. If we believe that teachers should write lessons plans to chart the course for their students, why shouldn't the leaders of PD write lesson plans to outline the course for their staff?

Long-Range plans are your compass. They ensure you know the skills teachers need to learn, you know where you are going, and it sets the stage for proper alignment.

This alignment can ensure you are providing teachers with the opportunity for quality PD, with seamless connections from one year to the next. Before you long-range plan, take a moment to explore the following questions:


1. Before you long-range plan, have you developed a vision for 21st Century PD?

2. Before you long-range plan, you have defined the Literacy of Effective teaching?

3. Why are these steps important?


Are you looking for resources to help you with this process? Check out this Mini-PD. I would love to hear your thoughts on Twitter via @APaulakovichIRT #InspiringPurpose.

The next step in this process is to develop lesson plans for each PD session. If long-range plans are our compass, then lesson plans would be our tour guide. This guide is intended to outline the steps, explain the purpose, provide tips for success, and explain the outcome of the adventure. PD lesson plans should ensure that your long-range plans are implemented with the following in mind:


1. What Educator Standards are introduced (acquisition), practiced (meaning making), or mastered (transferred) during this session?

2. What is the objective or driving question for the PD?

3. How will I hook teachers the minute the PD begins? Check out ideas from Teach Like a Pirate author, Dave Burgess.

4. How do I differentiate the product, process, content, or environment to meet varied needs?

5. How do I vary instructional strategies to ensure all teachers learn the content.

6. How do I incorporate movement?

7. How do I integrate technology? What tech tools can modify or redefine the PD? Don't use technology for technology's sake; use technology to redefine learning.

8. How do I formatively assess before, during, and after?

9. How do I provide time for reflection?

Do you want to see a lesson plan for a PD session? Check out this example: http://bit.ly/PDLessonPlan

Once you have ensured your long-range plans and lesson plans are aligned and will meet the needs of your staff, you should discover new ways to share ideas across the district. One possible idea is creating a Google Site. Ask for a team of volunteers that would like to join the PD Innovation Team. This team of teachers will help innovate and design unique learning experiences, organize the website and update with new research and materials. This will eliminate the need for copies and ensures everyone always know where to go to receive the most up-to-date research, review materials, videos, etc....

This is truly the power of a shared vocabulary!

Making PD Relevant

"The power of professional learning comes from the ability to have important conversations, reflect on our own questions and concerns, and to share ideas."

"Paul, what are options to make PD relevant?"

1. Host a Problem-Solving Summit

  • Ask staff to brainstorm a list of problems.

  • Choose one or two problems that affect the majority.

  • Collaborate on possible solutions.

2. Host an Appy Hour

  • When? During a staff meeting.

  • Limit each presenter to two minutes.

  • Allow staff to choose the app/website they want to explore.

  • Pair "Appy Hour" with appetizers for a winning mix.

3. Model a Lesson

  • "Staff meetings can be the perfect time for peer-to-peer training - without taking up any additional time. Teachers can present a lesson to give others an idea of a method or activity that worked well in the classroom. Those in the audience can do the activities and share as if they were the students, which offers tremendous insight into what students experience during a lesson."

4. Use Centers

  • "Set up four centers featuring different topics and activities. Using a staff meeting this way is smart because it allows participants to stand up and move around after a long day. It also offers the freedom to direct their own learning. It is important, however, to allow for a few minutes of sharing at the end of the meeting."

  • "One way to ensure staff members visit each station is to issue them blank index cards. Have them write their name on their card and then get it stamped at each location. Then the cards with all four stamps can be placed in a box, and one card can be drawn for a modest door prize."

5. Dot It!

  • "Devote a staff meeting to some professional introspection by providing your teachers a safe place to reflect on how they do their jobs."

6. Tip Jars

  • "At your next staff meeting, place two jars on a table, each labeled with a relevant workshop topic."

  • Allow teachers to vote.

  • "Most schools have staff meetings scheduled for each month. Use the meeting to focus on relevant professional development. This is an excellent way to promote ongoing learning."

Reflection: "How might you begin to change the culture surrounding PD in your school or district?"

Going ROGUE

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

"Paul, what does it mean to go ROGUE?"

R = Relevant

O=Organized

G=Group

U=Underground

E=Educators


"The first step is to find a group of educators who are also committed to continually pushing their professional learning boundaries."


"Paul, what activities can serve as the meeting focus for ROGUE Professional Development?"

1. Meeting of the Minds

  • "Organize a meeting of your roguish colleagues to discuss a relevant topic. The goal should be to walk away from the meeting having been impacted by the discussion."

2. Article of the Week

  • Form a group that meets once each week.

  • Discuss a relevant article or blog post.

  • Meet and debate/discuss and reflect.

3. Book Club

  • Informal meeting

  • Choose books based on need

4. #CoffeeEDU

  • Meet at a coffee establishment

  • Discuss educational topics

  • Check out the hashtag on Twitter.

5. Fight Club

  • Do you know colleagues that love to argue?

  • Host a Fight Club!

  • Argue debatable topics (homework, standardized assessments, grading, etc...)

  • WARNING: Establish ground rules first (check these out in the book).

Reflection: How can you incorporate ROGUE activities into your current PD experience?


Making Every Minute Count

"We will never have a surplus of time, but if we look at our daily schedules and find ways to maximize the spare minutes we do have, we can ensure PD time becomes meaningful and relevant."


"Paul, what strategies or activities can staff use to capture the time they do have and make it count?"

1. Lunch and Learn

  • Survey teachers to identify topics (apps, websites, instructional strategies, etc...)

2. List Your Learning

  • Post questions, instructional strategies, a new idea, or a quote for teachers.

3. Five-Minute PD

  • Share a resource or strategy via video.

4. 1-5-15 Bulletin (first link takes one minute; the second five; the third fifteen)

  • Smore Newsletter with three links. 1st link = one minute to review 2nd link = five minutes, and 3rd link = fifteen minutes

Reflection: "Where can you find a few extra minutes in your day to incorporate short PD opportunities?"

Taking Advantage of Twitter

"I am convinced that Twitter offers some of the best PD opportunities, and it's available 24/7. It's on-demand professional learning at its finest."


"Paul, how can I jump into using Twitter?"

1. Host a Book Study on Twitter

  • Choose a book.

  • Choose a night and time.

  • "The best part of hosting a book study through a Twitter chat was that the author was able to join in and share."

2. Join a Twitter Chat

  • Post a question for discussion.

  • Share answers throughout the day/week

3. Scavenger Hunt on Twitter

  • Ask teachers to find valuable resources.

  • Share with your school/district hashtag.

Reflection: "If you have not joined Twitter yet, what is holding you back? Is there another educator you know who uses Twitter who can help show you the basics?"

Going it Alone

'It's better to be alone than in bad company." -George Washington


"Paul, how can I make the most of moments of isolation?"

1. Embrace the Morning

2. Extend Your Evenings

3. Enjoy a Quiet Lunch

4. Spend Time Reflecting Each Day

5. Learn Something New Each Week

6. Spend Ten Minutes a Day on Twitter

7. Execute a Brilliant or Not-So-Brilliant Idea Each Week!


Solving Problems

"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." -Albert Einstein


"Paul, how can I start solving problems and leap into the unknown?"

Host a Jam Session

1. Choose five problems to solve.

2. Have participants choose which problem they want to solve.

3. Allow twenty-five minutes of discussion, debate, and sharing.

4. Set aside fifteen minutes for reflection.

5. Distribute all of the groups' solutions to all participants via email.


Reflection: "What are some problems or challenges you face each day? How do these problems impact your day?"

Creating Something Meaningful

"A year from now, you may wish you had started today." -Karen Lamb

"Paul, how do you inject creativity into PD sessions?"

1. Genius Hour

  • "Schedule a Genius Hour for your next staff meeting."

  • "Allow educators to engage in whatever activities they find stimulating and challenging.

  • "The only rule? The work they choose must directly benefit students."

2. FedEx Day

  • Educators are encouraged to use the FREE time to work on anything they wanted as long as they share with colleagues.

3. Blogging

  • "It is a therapeutic process and provides a chance to reflect upon growth over time."

  • "Blogging helps educators model to their students what good writing and appropriate sharing look like."

Reflection: "If given time at your next staff meeting, what would you create, and how would you share it with colleagues?"

Redefining Professional Learning Communities

"Alone we are smart. Together we are brilliant." - Steven W. Anderson

"Paul, how can we repurpose time utilized during PLCs?"

1. Teacher Choice and Learning Badges

  • Choose topics relevant to everyday roles.

  • Discuss and share via Twitter/Voxer/Instagram.

  • Earn digital badges based on content you master.

  • "The benefit of this is that colleagues may realize someone is an expert in something about which they are trying to learn - and they connect to learn."

2. Lesson Study (aka Learning Lab)

  • Use PLC time for a lesson study.

  • One colleague teaches lesson or strategy.

  • Colleagues observe and provide feedback.

  • Always leave time to debrief, talk over the lesson, ask questions, and provide constructive criticism.

3. Data Dump

  • Discuss. Look at the data and talk.

  • Understand. What does it all mean?

  • Make Plans. Write down actionable steps to improve instruction and learning.

Reflection: Do you meet with a PLC? Are the activities worthwhile in helping you grow as a learner?
Creating the Game Plan

"If we are going to revolutionize education through professional development, we must be systematic in our approach."

"Paul, what do you suggest to get started?"

1. Start Small

2. Follow Up

3. Continue to Develop Yourself

4. Host Voluntary Sessions

5. Promote. Promote. Promote.

6. Become a Decision Maker

My Steps to Changing Professional Learning

"What five steps will you take immediately to change the look of professional learning?


Share your list on Twitter with the #4OCF and tag @RACzyz.


Do you want to explore further resources?

Look no further! Rich created a website with endless ideas: https://fouroclockfaculty.com/


Are you getting ready to read his book?

Rich will be posting a series of videos on his website starting July 9.

Or...send Rich a message and join the Voxer book study that begins on July 9.