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An Organizer's Checklist

Action Guide Congratulations! You've decided to take the next steps to create and implement quality professional development at your site, within your district, or beyond.

According to research by the U.S. Department of Education, staff development in the most successful schools is no longer the domain of a district-level curriculum supervisor. Instead, it is organized to give educators the authority and resources to take charge of their own learning.

But taking charge means seeing professional development as a process rather than a single project or event. It also means investing in significant planning. This checklist will help you organize your steps as you begin to take charge. Use it in conjunction with the Action Tools  provided in this Professional Development area. (These are PDF files - they require the Free Adobe Acrobat Reader.)

1. Include professional development participants and organizers in the professional development design process.

  • Decide who should be involved in the initial professional development working team.
  • Invite members and school leaders to participate in your professional development work team meeting.
  • Determine the process for the working team.
    • When should you meet?
    • Who will schedule meetings?
    • Who will be in charge of collecting agenda items and sending out the agenda?
    • Who will facilitate the meeting?
    • Who will communicate decisions to those who can not participate?
  • Review "Where are We Now?" (Action Tool 1 - PDF, 54Kb) and answer the questions as a team.
  • Prepare and plan for distribution of a survey to Association members and other staff (Action Tool 2 - PDF, 56Kb).

2. Survey members regarding their professional development needs and wants.

  • Review survey data with team and compile a report.
    *Note: Support staff development will be best implemented if there is meaningful involvement from all the players and if the administration conveys its belief in its importance to the school district's mission.

Important! Make sure to follow up with survey participants by sharing a brief recap of survey results via a special newsletter, flyer or bulletin, or even email. It is imperative that people know the survey data is actually being used to construct your professional development program.

3. Research and evaluate current professional development programs and opportunities using the ideas presented in this Web site.

 Once you've found an idea or program you like, ask yourself the 10 questions in "Will This Work?" (Action Tool 3 - PDF, 33Kb).

4. Review "Professional Development for All of Us"

 (Action Tool 4 - PDF, 74 Kb). Assess if any of these trainings and resources meet your members' needs and desires based on survey feedback.

 Bright Idea

At your first meeting you may want to spend 30 minutes answering the following four questions. Use these answers to guide your work in every meeting.

  1. What are our expectations for how our team will operate?
  2. What role will the Association play? (for example: coordinator, provider, facilitator, partner)
  3. What are our two or three most important goals this year?
  4. What indicators will we use to assess the effectiveness of our team?
  5. What process will we use to resolve conflict?


5. Using your conclusions from the two steps above, complete the "Activity Planner"

 (Action Tool 5 - PDF, 46Kb) for each potential professional development activity (workshop, presentation, on-the- job training program, higher education course, etc.) you plan to conduct. This spreadsheet will help you keep track of your actions and identify:

  • Sources and uses of financial resources.
  • Other professional organizations (for example: American School Food Service Association) and higher education facilities that you can work with to deliver training.
  • Community groups who might serve as a resource (for example: local law enforcement, PTA, Red Cross, etc.).
  • Expert sources to assist with staff needs (for example: UniServ directors and other state association staff ).

6. Draft a professional development plan using data from all of the tools above.

 Use the "Sample Communications Plan" (Action Tool 6 - PDF, 44 Kb) to guide you. Keep in mind that the plan should include:

  • Your local association's professional development goals.
  • How your professional development goals support the school or district's long-term plan for both staff development and student learning.
    • You'll find answers as you brainstorm with your team using Action Tool 1. Be sure you take the time to review existing educational goals for the state, district and school and make sure that your goals fit into those.
  • A statement about why engaging in professional development will lead to success in your workplace.
  • Proposed professional development content, processes and activities and what resources are currently available to you.
  • How you plan to evaluate professional development actions.
    • Identify success measures and plan a process for reporting evaluation findings to the school or district (or sponsor of your workshops).

7. Share the plan with your school administrators and community (teachers, parents, students) via association newsletters and school/district publications.

8. Review "Characteristics of Adult Learners

" (Action Tool 7 - PDF, 84 Kb). In order for support staff development to have maximum benefits, participants must see the relevance of and have some control over the training.

9. Look at the "Final Checklist"

(Action Tool 9 - PDF, 33Kb) to ensure that you have completed all of the necessary steps above.

10. Plan your workshop or training program.

At a follow-up planning session, the group should discuss options for types and times of sessions, emphasizing ongoing activities and coaching. These meetings are also a good time to discuss the contributions made by support professionals, as well as the significance of staff development to achieve "lifelong learning."

11. Advertise the sessions, giving participants ample registration time.

12. Review "Model Language and Sample Contracts"

 (Action Tool 8 - PDF, 57Kb) and use it to as a resource to help you bargain professional development language into your next contract. Taking the above-mentioned steps will help to ensure that professional development activities for support professionals are relevant and well-received. And don't forget to take the time to celebrate your accomplishments!

 Bright Idea

Stay abreast of best practices within the ESP community

Make an action plan for conducting ongoing research and incorporating new ideas into your professional development efforts. For example: assign a member to read NEA Today magazine every month and report to your team what other ESP associations are doing for professional development.


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