Developing Effective Professional Learning

Welcome! You are here on this page because you have made the decision that you want to try something new to improve your learning and teaching, and to improve the learning experience of your students. On this page, you are able to find everything that is needed to learn about and understand what professional learning is. Instead of the “one and done” or “sit and get” systems, I will be practicing a “go and show” model. More specifically, you will read how I will be using professional learning to implement ePortfolios into the special education department in our district’s high school building.
Each professional learning session will have a clear goal which I will be there to support, and foster collaboration among all of us. The sessions will be engaging and specific, and will allow time to practice and troubleshoot over the months following. In between sessions, I (as well as administration) will be reaching out to you to check in and see if you are in any need of assistance.

The Story Behind the Story

The Why: I have learned so much about what needs to be changed in order to implement new and effective professional learning opportunities. Currently, the school district I work in often has a “sit and get” type of model for professional learning sessions. While this model provides a lot of information to its audience, it does not allow for follow through by the teachers or for guidance from the presenter on how to implement information/strategies into the classrooms. In my school district, the administration is open-minded about trying something new and giving the teachers the freedom to do so. With my ePortfolio innovation plan set to begin in the upcoming weeks, I have realized that I am in a perfect position to begin making professional learning changes now. In order for teachers to improve their classrooms, we need to adjust our professional learning sessions and move towards the “go and show” model. Changes will help to remove the oh-so common feelings of frustration and being overwhelmed which are currently associated with our PD sessions.

Call to Action

The What: We need to find a way to change all professional learning so the 5 principles of effective PL are in the forefront. This is shown in my call to action video below, and is what will be shown to my colleagues as we begin this journey together.

My Creation Process

The How: The first step I took when creating my call to action video was to write a script. I needed to figure out what I wanted to say and how to most effectively state it. I wrote my script using a Google DocI use Docs quite often because I can access it at any time, which gives me the option to jot down ideas or tweak my work from anywhere I have internet access. Being a mother and wife, working full-time, and coaching does not always leave me a set time each week to complete assignments. Having the flexibility to access my work when I have a few minutes in between different events affords me the freedom to work when I can without sacrificing any ideas that I think of.

After I finished writing my script, I used Adobe Spark to begin making my video. I find Adobe Spark to be very user friendly. It allows you to narrate your images (here’s a screenshot of what it looks like when creating your video) and arrange them in whatever order you prefer. I started to upload pictures and create my movie slides using images from Pixaby. Pixaby offers over one million royalty free photos and videos to users which is great because you do not have to ask permission or credit the artist for each picture you use. I kept in mind not to add too much text to the slides since I would be narrating throughout the video, and I only added images that I believed would have a meaningful and effective impact on the audience. Spark makes the recording very easy as well. Simply hold the button while you speak and then release it when you are finished. You can record as many times as you need to with no time limit per slide. I was also able to add music to play in the background to add emphasis to my message. I did struggle a bit with fitting my references onto a slide at the end, so I decided to take a screenshot of my references from a Google Doc and then insert the picture onto the slide – and problem solved!

The 5 Key Principles of Effective Professional Learning

5 principles.png

The audience for my ePortfolio professional learning plan are my special education department colleagues. My BHAG is for my colleagues to assist our student population in developing their post-secondary plans, while reflecting on their learning, and in order to promote lifelong learning and reflection. By understanding the 5 key principles of effective professional learning, my colleagues will be equipped with the tools and resources they need to create their ePortfolios, and to implement ePortfolios into their classrooms. To assist my colleagues, I will be modeling the 5 key principles during our professional learning sessions. Below is an overview of how I will do this:


The PL sessions will be on-going and significant, beginning in August 2019 and continuing through the 2019-2020 school year. Additional PL sessions will occur during the summer prior to the start of the 2020-2021 school year.

Support support

Each colleague in the department will have support from me, as well as receiving support from our IT coordinator and Transition coordinator throughout the learning, designing, and implementing stages.




It is critical that all learners are engaged and active right from the beginning. Active engagement will be imperative when learners are planning, designing, and collaborating their ePortfolios with their grade level partners.


It is important for the department members to see a successful ePortfolio in action. My ePortfolio will be modeled as an example, and will be referenced throughout our PL sessions.




The ePortfolios will be incorporated throughout the high school special education department, spanning grades 9-12. Each grade level will have varied needs based off of the post-secondary transition needs of their students. Grade level partners will have time to collaborate with each other in order to plan their specific implementation.

My Professional Learning Outline

Below is the schedule for my professional learning (PL) plan. My plan is a working document which is organized into a spreadsheet and shares PL sessions and resources. I have incorporated parts of my BHAG and 3 Column Table to support my innovation plan of implementing ePortfolios to support our special education students’ post-secondary transition plans.

*To see the full view, click here.*



Adobe Spark. Free graphic design app. Retrieved from

Duarte, N. (2013). Resonate: Present visual stories that transform audiences. John Wiley & Sons. An online media version of Resonate can be accessed for free at!page0

Gulamhussein, A. (2013). Teaching the teachers effective professional development in an era of high stakes accountability. Center for Public Education. Retrieved from

Pixabay. Royalty free images. Retrieved from

TED. (2010, May 24). Bring on the learning revolution!|Sir Ken Robinson [Video file]. Retrieved from

TED. (2013, February 27). Sugata Mitra: Build a school in the cloud [Video file]. Retrieved from:

TEDx Talks. (2012, September 12). A new culture of learning, DouglasThomas at TEDxUFM [Video file]. Retrieved from:

TEDx Talks. (2013, March 20). What 60 seconds can tell us about teaching 21st century skills: Grant Lichtman at TEDxDenverTeachers [Video file]. Retrieved from: