Staff Development


Staff Development

Writing Lesson

Teacher Resources




Facilitator's Guide

Teaching Teachers to Write

Facilitators: Mary Boyer, Shirley Hansen, and Jackie Hurst

Thank you all for agreeing to facilitate a conversation on developing a staff development plan for writing. As you are aware that due to budget cuts in the district, we have to be creative as teachers and administrators to get more innovative in how we can improve our students scores and achievement in the area of writing. Thus, instead of hiring a private consultant to provide additional assistance in this arena we are looking to you, the teachers, to help us in this undertaking.

Prior to the meeting:

1. Reserve room for meeting with appropriate seating, tables and space.
2. Send out memo to all teachers regarding the meeting, include time, date, etc.
3. Line up refreshments
4. Work on icebreaker and other handouts for the session. Divide the responsibilities of the facilitation with your partner. Make sure each one is aware what the other is responsible.
5. Make sure there will be a flip chart, blackboard, whiteboard with markers, overhead with pens, etc. in room for session.

Agenda for this afternoon session:

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1:00 pm Introductions
1:15 pm Icebreaker
1:45 pm Discussion of objectives and goals
2:15 pm Elements of a good staff development plan
3:00 pm Break
3:15 pm Discuss of the writing standards: identify priorities
3:45 pm Develop the Roadmap: What topics should be covered which semester
4:15 pm Determine assignments and review expectations
4:45 pm Schedule next meeting
5:00 pm Adjournment


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Icebreakers provide an excellent opportunity to set the tone of the meeting and get participants thinking and learning in a non-threatening manner. The icebreaker for this session is one that may be used in a group where the participants know each other, as this takes place at a school site where teachers all work together..

Icebreaker: The Hat Trick
Have each participant write his or her name on a small piece of paper. Collect all the names in a hat and have each participant pick a name out of the hat. Have each participant stand behind the person whose name he or she drew and interview that person using the following questions and the Icebreaker handout.

A hidden talent of the person
The person’s expectations for the session
The person’s secret vice

Take 5 minutes and debrief as a group, or share, what each person found out about their partner. Save the Icebreaker handout and notes for the writing lesson at the next Staff Development day. You may decide to have the presenter pick up all the sheets to have them ready for the next meeting.

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Goals for Staff Development First Session

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Planning an effective staff development takes time and effort. To that end we will investigate research based models to help us make the most of our planning. As we look at the elements for effective staff development one might want to group them into categories such as:

  1. "The Learning Environment" How does where an activity takes place and the number of participants impact the presentation and interaction of the participants? Article from the Illinois Staff Development Council.

    1. Environment
      Low threat, psychologically safe, openness to share problems and solutions
    2. Physical facility
      Room ambiance, adequate seating, lighting, temperature should all be taken into account
    3. Time of day
      Staff development at the end of the work day is the least effective. Least effective when scheduled against work days, conferences, and seasonal activities.
  2. "Involvement in planning" When everyone has a stake in the staff development, there is more buy-in for the process.
    1. Time for planning
      Teachers need time out of the classroom to plan
      A staff should come to consensus as to what it wants to pursue.
    2. Involvement of the principals
      Administrative leadership should be prominent at staff activities
      District administrative support should be evident. This could be shown through release time, extra assignment compensation, hours for salary advancement or career education
    3. Presenter
      The presenter’s enthusiasm and expertise brings interest and credibility to the presentation.
    4. Content
      Staff development must be geared toward the needs of the participants, often to a very narrow grade-level, and its immediate use back to practice in the classroom
    5. Building on lengths
      Staff development that values its participants and looks to them as a resource is more successful.

  3. "Expectations" We all need to know for what we will be responsible
    1. Opportunity to share
      Teachers should be encouraged to collaborate with peers, sharing work and assistance to one another.
    2. Continuity
      When staff development has a group purpose or goal, the staff, as a team, is more likely to attain their goal.
    3. Follow-up
      A staff needs follow up activities that constantly bring the staff development goals to the forefront.


  4. "Practice, Practice" Demonstration and practice with feedback are essential to help participants accomplish their objectives.
      1. Individualization
        Different experiences for different participants who are at different stages of learning/development.
      2. Active involvement
        Staff development activities should give participants a chance to be actively involved. Actually doing the activities that the students will do and then discussing their impact give greater meaning to the session.
      3. Opportunity for choice
        Having alternate activities for participant choice is often a way to engage reluctant participants and make the presentation more meaningful.

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Teacher Planning During the Initial Staff Development Session

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We continue to reflect on what makes an effective staff development program as we plan our own staff development year.

1. Identify the elements of a good staff development plan, using appendix.

  1. Acknowledge what we can do and by what we are inhibited
  2. Decide how we can minimize negative issues

2. Brainstorm areas that this staff would like to explore for staff development.

  1. Write ideas on white board
  2. Seek input from those that ordinarily do not contribute
  3. Give out sticky dots (2) and allow people to prioritize their choices

3. Make decision of what direction staff will take

  1. Writing focus for the year
  2. Involving intermediate as well as primary teachers
  3. When to separate and when to join together, determined by relevancy of topic

4. Discuss and come to consensus of how to implement the staff development

  1. Before school starts
  2. At after school inservices
    1. How often
    2. How late
  3. During teacher work days

5. Give opportunity to discuss how we can use staff members’ expertise to provide leadership for staff development

  1. Staff members that have had writing training will volunteer to lead
  2. Goal is to involve as many staff during the year in planning or leading some part of the training.

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Goals for Staff Development Second Session

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1. To enable teachers to implement an effective staff development plan that they could present and share with fellow teachers in the area of writing.

2. Enable teachers in identifying the essential components of writing clear and topical paragraphs.

3. To Review and recognize paragraphs of excellence and contrast with those that need improvement.

4. To practice techniques for improving narrative and expository writing skills.


Plans for Assessment of Staff Development

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1. First day session will end with staff using the staff development rubric provided for self assessment. As the participants get ready to fill out the form, they should be encouraged to reflect upon the following:

a. How did the presentation impact their idea of staff development?
b. What would they like to see changed?
c. Could there be better participation or buy in?

2. Second session will focus on writing the perfect paragraph.

a. Teacher hand out for writing a paragraph.
b. Revision strategies.
c. Rewriting paragraph with new strategies
d. Opportunity for individuals to read their paragraph.
e. Opportunity to score paragraphs against a paragraph writing rubric.
f. Teacher will repeat lesson for their individual classes and follow same assessment practice.

3. Continued Staff Development will be guided with input from the staff. The initial staff developers will provide a timeline framework and act as resource facilitators for staff. Staff will continue to give input for future sessions, with individuals contributing as leaders for topical sessions.
Teaching Teachers to Write
Staff Development Goals 1st Meeting
Teachers Planning Staff Development
Staff Development Goals 2nd Meeting
Assessing Staff Development

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