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What do you do to make your professional development offerings meaningful for educators in Arkansas?

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If our PD session is a one time offering,  we visit with administrator to determine needs of participants and goals of the session.  We use Survey Monkey to identify needs of participants on identified topic(s) in advance.  Participants are also given opportunities to identify questions or concerns on the topic at the beginning of the session.  When co-presenting, we use quick formative assessments to identify skill levels of participants and differentiate sections of the presentation to provide opportunities for extension activities.  We use multiple surveys, review feedback from evaluation forms, and use quick onsite formative assessments to identify needs of participants when working with schools involved in our yearlong professional development package. Opportunities for networking and small group work are part of all sessions including webinars. 

These are great strategies, Rose Merry. Thanks for sharing. It's much easier to meet the needs of your audience if you allow them the opportunity to share with you what those needs are! It also ensures a higher degree of engagement if the content is relevant to individuals in your PD session. Your obviously applying UDL principles to your PD planning.

I'm curious: are you involved in any coaching programs that allow you to follow up with the participants after the one-time PD session? CAST has found that our UDL coaching allows us the opportunity to support deep learning and a change in practice. What's happening in Arkansas with this approach? 

I coordinate the co-teaching professional development project for the ADE Special Education Unit.  We do very few overviews, but when we do, we use the strategies described earlier.  Instead we focus our efforts on providing a yearlong co-teaching professional development package to interested schools.  The package offers a variety of supports including traditional face-to-face sessions, webinars, onsite coaching, email and phone technical assistance, and a formal implementation evaluation process.  UDL is integrated into our design through a three part webinar series on differentiating instruction in the co-taught classroom.  The amount of onsite coaching is limited to two 1/2 day sessions or one full day session.  Participating schools are required to create a co-teaching building leadership team to provide ongoing oversight and implementation planning and evaluation.  One of the tasks of the leadership team is to plan how the coach will use his/her time during the visit(s).  This allows us to customize the coaching day to meet the needs of each school.  It's probably the most valuable component of our package.

Arkansas currently supports the use of school based onsite instructional facilitators to provide ongoing coaching in literacy and/or math.  When we work with a school, we always include the instructional facilitators in our professional development so they can reinforce and support effective co-teaching practices.   

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