The 4 Pillars of Effective PD

Building equitable, effective and sustainable programs

The most effective district PD initiatives are characterized by four distinct attributes: They are personalized, job-embedded, tied to evaluations, and ongoing and sustainable. These qualities will ensure PD efforts are successful.

In this web seminar, presenters discussed these four pillars and how to ensure a district’s PD aligns with them. Two New York school administrators described how they are incorporating PD content from leading publishers to build equitable, effective and sustainable PD programs, and offered strategies and insights for doing the same in any district.


Danielle Bleecher
Education Consultant
Gale, a Cengage Company

Doreen Bergman
Program Coordinator, School Library System
Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES (N.Y.)

Jeff Craig, Ed.D.
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction
Cortland Enlarged City School District (N.Y.)

Danielle Bleecher: We know there are challenges around PD, but with them come opportunities, and we have had conversations with customers around what is successful. PD needs to be:

1. Personalized. Just as we ask teachers to personalize instruction for students, teachers expect the same. PD needs to connect, be personal and target them. This way, teachers will be more apt to leverage the resources so they—and students—can grow.

2. Job-embedded. PD needs to easily tie into workflow so that it is no longer another thing teachers have to do, but seamlessly ties into their day.

3. Ongoing and sustainable. Teachers must get PD where and when they need it. That’s helped shift the conversation from occasional to ongoing professional learning.

4. Tied to the evaluation that the district supports. The Danielson Framework for Teaching (FFT) is a widely used evaluation framework. By aligning ASCD content to FFT, one of our department of education partners connected professional learning to the evaluation process. Based on their success, Gale took it a step further by aligning the e-books from our top publishers to the domains and dimensions of FFT, creating an available option for all.

Imagine offering your professional learning through a digital platform that’s targeted by need. Imagine a collection of content from today’s top publishers and authors that supports you and your educators’ specific needs. As we support “bring your own device” and as teachers learn to teach differently, imagine a collection that supports those needs as well. Just as we expect our students to continue reading throughout the summer, imagine eliminating the summer slide and creating a collection of content for your teachers’ own professional growth.

We need a change in culture. And it needs to start with a conversation. We can change it from “I don’t have enough time” or “this doesn’t apply to me” to “I can do this” and “I get this.” But how?

Doreen Bergman: We know that personalized learning is important in classrooms, so we want to support teaching and learning that’s personalized and gives teachers those same opportunities. When we look at our professional e-book collection, it’s important that teachers have the opportunities to self-identify their areas of growth.

During the last few years with our Mentors Across Borders program participants, we chose a digital book because Gale products allow people to read the same book at the same time. This builds engagement because teachers can identify important areas for their own learning. We also have mentors and “mentees” or small groups with particular focuses work together using the same book. This is an example of personalized PD that they can do anytime, anywhere and in any manner.

Jeff Craig: We connect the dots with collection resources. Our district’s top- 10 list for student engagement includes discussion, student interests, real-world connections, collaboration, student choice, using technology, relationships and active learning.

Every payday, I send a message to staff called the “Payday Active Learning Strategy” which includes a strategy that teachers can use in classrooms. For many of these messages, I leverage the e-book Total Participation Techniques from my ASCD collection. I can repurpose and share the content with teachers in different ways. I can send them an excerpt with a picture. I can remind them between special conference days that it’s important to use active learning strategies. It makes it easy.

I also archive payday strategies on our Cortland intranet, and teachers can find them anytime. We track the clicks, opens and click-throughs. Our data proves that when we connect the dots between conference days, plus what we do during them, it is having an impact.

To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please visit

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