FETC 2024 – Crafting a Teacher-Centered Professional Development Cohort

Access this outline and resources at https://mikepaul.com/fetc2024


Mike Paul, Instructional Coach, Bullitt County Public Schools

  • Doctoral Student in Educational Leadership Studies, University of Kentucky
  • Focus on Deeper Learning, Science of Learning & Development, Professional Development
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Justin Bathon

The Future Shift Fellowship

  • Why did I create this group?

    • Huge expansion of technology post-COVID19
    • Technology used for far too many low-level tasks
    • How might we create a teacher-centered professional development experience that fosters deeper learning in classrooms?
    • Not a new idea (Bowling Green, Rowan County)
  • Framework for the cohort meetings

    • Make it teacher-centered
    • Focus on deeper learning
    • Provide opportunities for collaboration and discussion
    • Use technology to enhance, not replace, teacher instruction
    • Provide ongoing support and follow-up
  • Heutagogy

    • A concept that emphasizes self-directed learning and the ability to learn independently. It is important for teacher professional development because it encourages educators to take ownership of their own learning and to continuously develop their skills and knowledge. By promoting heutagogy in professional development programs, teachers can gain the skills and confidence needed to foster deeper learning in their students and to better meet their individual needs.
    • Blaschke, L. M. (2012). Heutagogy and lifelong learning: A review of heutagogical practice and self-determined learning. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 13(1), 56. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v13i1.1076


The Process

  • Focus on recruiting individuals who are open to change and innovation
  • “seed” the applicants 😉
  • Make it as big of a deal as you can. We offered:
  • What if you can’t do full days?
    • Try half days
    • After school meetings or planning periods
    • Meet with individual teachers

Module 1

  • Setting the tone and building the culture
  • Opening activity – Who’s Who?
    • Fellows answered 6 questions before our first meeting:
      • Beatles or Stones?
      • Desert Island Album: What album (yes, the album, not a Spotify playlist) are you taking with you to a deserted island, never to be seen again?
      • Dead Dinner Date: Can’t be a family member, language is no barrier, centuries are no barrier, who would it be?
      • Live Dinner Date: Can’t be a family member, language is no barrier, who would it be?
      • What event in history would you change, if you could?
      • Favorite book?
    • I took the titles of their favorite books and created images using Midjourney AI. I shared the images through Google Slides and each fellow had to pair the fellow with an image (the answers were WILDLY incorrect… 🤣)
  • Set the group norms:
    • What happens here stays here
    • Encourage one another to “embrace the suck.”
    • Be present
    • Work on solutions for the items we vent about
  • Gripe Jam
    • focus on “big” problems in our district
    • this creates buy-in from fellows
    • creating advocates (Domain IV of Danielson framework)
    • Personal note: I’m trying to create instigators
  • Introduce the 4 Shifts Protocol
  • Schedule first 1-on-1 meetings

Module 2

  • “Song of the Day” activity
  • Shared initial lesson ideas
    • 4th-grade math: Travel agent for family visiting Bardstown
    • 3rd-grade reading: informative writing on inventions
    • 3rd-grade economics: Market day
    • 8th-grade ELA: poetry analysis
    • 7th-grade SS: Chinese dynasties
    • Honors English II: Real News vs. Fake News
    • 12th-grade ELA: Argumentative Multimodal Composition Project
    • Primary: student-created instructional videos
  • Discussed 4 Shifts Protocol
  • Working session/coaching/group discussions

Module 3

  • 4 Shifts
    • what “shift” are you focusing on?
    • how large is your scope?
    • have you gone “too big?”
  • Discussion about possible tech tools
  • Began scheduling “lessons”

Module 4

  • “The Winter of Our Discontent”
  • This session involved lots of “play” for the fellows
    • Explorations with AI – rewriting the competencies for our Graduate Profile for various grade levels
  • Tech tools for ELLs
  • Recap questions for after fellows taught their lessons:
    • How will the projects be evaluated to measure learning?
    • What obstacles were faced during the planning phase?
    • What obstacles were faced during the actual event?
    • How were content standards kept in focus throughout the lesson?
    • What technology support did you need that you didn’t have?
    • What specific area of the 4 shifts was your focus as you thought about this lesson/project?
    • Would you do this again?
    • If yes, what would you change?
    • What recommendations would you make for others if they were to implement it in their classrooms?

Module 5

  • We took the fellows to KySTE 🙂

Module 6

  • Wrapping up
  • Presented to the BCS Board of Education
  • Student work examples
  • Then, the “magic” happened…
    • Fellows asked me about hosting a day of PD at the end of the school year to share their experiences, ideas, etc.
    • “Last Call” Edcamp is born
    • Fellows came up with sessions, I provided oversight on planning (meaning I didn’t do much!)
    • “The Rise of the Instigators”


  • If you use this model, your situation will demand changes
    • some of this doesn’t scale well to large settings (umm… taking a large group to KySTE?)
  • As a leader, make space for plan and exploration in whatever PD sessions you have
    • this is about them, not you
  • Remember, we are all learning together
  • Small steps are better than no steps
  • “Embrace the suck”
  • You and your fellows do not have to reinvent the wheel.
  • Obvious to You, Amazing to Others

“Maybe the rules you are breaking were already broken…” – Picard, Season 3

Further Reading: