Let’s Strive for Effective Professional Learning.

Schools need more effective professional learning, that’s no secret. The sit and get model of that past is just that…the past. I have suffered through my share of boring professional developments just to discover when I am back in my classroom, I still fumbled with what I was “taught.”

For the master’s class I am taking right now, we were given an assignment. The task was to create a presentation to convince colleagues and administrators there is a need for a paradigm shift in professional learning (notice the new “learning” verbiage instead of “development”). It’s no secret I like to create presentations.

This professional learning topic is near and dear to my heart. I am a huge fan of ongoing and supported professional learning. I knew almost immediately how I wanted to convey my message. Actually developing the presentation was a different story!

banjo-154543_640I have a banjo. It was my mom’s. My dad bought the banjo for my mom when I was young. He also bought an instructional book and a record album (you read that correctly-a 12-inch full-length LP). My mom never got around to learning to play the banjo. Now the banjo sits in my closet. I take it out every once in a while to pick around on it, but I have never really learned to play it. I’m not exactly sure how my banjo actually crept into my mind when I started to plan my presentation, but it did. I suspect I was comparing a professional development session to learning to play the banjo in one day. That just doesn’t happen. Becoming a proficient banjo player and learning new teaching strategies or skills is an ongoing process.

Back to my presentation, which developed into a video. My administration and my colleagues are used to me changing lyrics to songs to get a point across. A couple of years back, we (fellow McGregor staff and myself) created a video to pump the kids up for the STAAR test. We changed the lyrics to Pharrell Williams’ song Happy. You can watch that video here. So, rewriting lyrics is what I do. I guess I chose the song The Ballad of Jed Clampett to rewrite for various reasons. (1) It was banjo music! Yay! (2) It told a story of a family that made a huge change to their lifestyle, just like effective professional learning should do for teachers. (3) It is short and silly. If I didn’t create something “fun,” my colleagues and administrators wouldn’t believe it came from me.

So the process began. It didn’t take me very long to write the lyrics. Rhymezone.com is a true friend! I asked my friend Michael to sing the lyrics for me, he obliged. I used a karaoke version of the song, Garage Band, and a Blue Snowball microphone to record on one of my classroom Macs. It only took about three tries and we were done!

The dilemma was who would portray Fred? I finally convinced my semi-shy better half, James, to be Fred. He grumbled because he hates photos and things like that. I sort of fibbed and said not many people would ever see the completed video, so he succumbed to my pleas. I was very proud of his performance. The school’s yearbook Canon camera shot all the video, mine included.

Everything was put together in iMovie on my MacBook Pro. I used Photoshop to create the focus text. Royalty-free images and video came from various online sites. I only used ones that were presented with the “no attribution” clause. I revised my video quite a few times before it actually made me smile, which means I was happy with the final product. That’s it in a nutshell! Without further adieu, here is my story that was created to convince folks that more effective professional learning is a must! Enjoy!


Gulamhussein, A. (2013). Teaching the Teachers Effective Professional Development in an Era of High Stakes Accountability. Center for Public Education. Retrieved from http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/system/files/2013-176_ProfessionalDevelopment.pdf

One comment

  1. Great job, Kris. You’re spot on. In a time when many districts are cutting back on expensive conferences and resorting to in-house PL, you’re advise is very salient. (On a side note: you’re blog really caught my attention–I’m a bluegrass listening, banjo picking, M.A. holding, tech tech loving I’m a 34 year teaching vet. This blog hit all the buttons!)


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