What if I told you …
… by the time you’re done reading this, you’d have the option to clear an extra 40-60 hours off your plate this summer.
And this isn’t some efficiency hack that requires waking up earlier or optimizing your email or something. You will literally be able to spend a little bit of money to eliminate a HUGE chunk of your planning for next year.
What could you do with that time?
Take an extra trip with your family? Knock out some stuff around the house? Read a book that you actually want to read?
Hard to believe? Hear me out.
I realize your job seems to get more challenging each day. More and more recently, it feels entirely impossible.
No matter what you do, someone is unhappy. Whether it’s a parent with an agenda or a teacher with a bone to pick, it never seems to end.
And, on top of all that, you have your own life to consider.
The stress of the pandemic has taken years off the life of everyday folks. What has it done to those few in leadership … especially those leading schools?
I get it. I remember the days of waking up at 4:30 AM, trying to get in a quick workout or a healthy meal, then starting a 12-14 hour day at a large middle school in Portland.
(You know you’re working too much when you beat the janitorial and cafeteria staff into the building each morning).
I often felt the grip on my sanity slipping away.
These days, I spend a considerable portion of my time talking to educators all over the country. And let me tell you, you’re not alone in your exhaustion.
Just yesterday, I had lunch with a dear friend and a great school leader. Usually a very upbeat and buoyant person, she seemed weary. Really weary.
“Next year has to be different,” she sighed heavily. “It just has to be.”
If you’re feeling weighed down, I’m sorry. Sincerely, I am.
That might sound like a hollow attempt at empathy, especially since I sell stuff to educators. But I’ve seen how bad things are in so many places. Everyone needs a pressure relief valve.
Well, I can’t solve all your problems. I can’t even solve a quarter of your problems. But let’s talk about taking one thing off of your plate in a tangible way.
And I’m 100% serious when I say that hearing me out could buy you an extra two weeks of free time this summer.
Now, let’s talk about professional development.
Yeah, I know. You think about the topic with 10% excitement and 90% dread.
“I want to have high-quality PD, but my teachers hate almost anything we try. And every time I try to make it more engaging, they seem to find new criticisms.”
You’re not alone. I hear the same thing from nearly every administrator.
The thing is, it’s not your fault. You’ve had the deck stacked against you from day one.
Here are some cold hard facts:
- Only 29% of teachers are happy with their PD options.
- Only 34% of teachers think PD has improved in recent years.
- The vast majority of teachers do not believe PD prepares them for how their jobs are changing.
(Source: “Teachers Know Best: Teachers’ Views on Professional Development. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.)
You read that source right. That’s not just me saying it; it’s directly from the Gates Foundation.
And here’s a direct quote from their report:
“Principals largely share teachers’ concerns about the efficacy of professional learning.”
I know this can all sound pretty gloomy. But, to be honest, it’s something we already know but don’t want to admit to ourselves.
As we dump tens of hours of our spring break or summer into preparing the next round of PD, we tell ourselves that this time will be different. We want to believe that our staff is in that small minority of contented training recipients. But there’s always a doubt deep inside.
What do my teachers really think?
And you shudder when you think of actually posing the question.
Don’t worry; you don’t have to ask. Just take a peek at a few of the THOUSANDS of responses on any popular teacher Instagram account as inservice approaches.
It’s the worst!
I wanna cry just thinking about it.
Principals keep repackaging the same strategies/methodologies, calling it something else, and making us sit through the same PD’s year after year after year …
Waste of time …
And those are the comments you expected. It’s even more of a gut-punch when you get to the truly cynical takes.
“While it is boring, I’m good to sit in an air-conditioned room and get paid to sit and ‘pay attention.’ So you do what the smart kids do: complete the minimum necessary to have participated and then go back to whatever on your phone or computer.”
“After 30 years of teaching, I have been in lots of PD meetings that could have been an email.”
“I can sleep during it!”
(Actual teacher comments from Instagram.com/bored_teachers, August 5th, 2019)
Now, I wouldn’t be surprised if your teachers love your PD. You could be one of the few folks who find the time to make training relevant and engaging.
But it does take real time. Could you find a better use of those 40-60 hours you spend creating PowerPoints and reading pedagogy books? Especially in July?
The good news is it’s entirely possible to get that time back AND have happy teachers.
Here’s an encouraging fact:
86% of teachers and administrators agree that full-time classroom teachers are the preferred trainers of other teachers.
You read that right. That’s 86% of teachers and administrators in agreement. You can’t get 86% of teachers and administrators to agree on a pizza order!
Here’s another one:
Teachers who get to choose their PD are nearly 3x happier than those who don’t.
And, yup, when teachers have some choice in their professional development, they are almost three times more likely to rate the experience as highly satisfying.
So, let’s recap what we know:
- Teachers hate most PD (and that’s not your fault)
- Administrators have zero extra time to devote to anything
- Having a choice in training and being teacher-led is key
Now, here’s the part that gets exciting for you.
What if I told you we had cracked the code on all of the above? And you could get access to our secret sauce without having to do any extra PD prep on your part?
Sound too good to be true? We’ll get to some specifics shortly, but let me fill you in on a bit about me.
I’m a former classroom teacher and building administrator from Oregon. Before becoming an educator, I worked in the private sector as an analyst at the world’s fourth-largest energy company based in Bilbao, Spain (though my comfy cubicle was in downtown Portland). In the evenings, I worked on getting my MBA from Harvard.
(Okay, it was Harvard-adjacent. Actually, it was on the opposite coast as Harvard. But it was an excellent education nonetheless that employed the Harvard case study method with a focus on innovation management. Go PSU Vikings!)
As I approached 30, however, I had grown sick of spending my life in a spreadsheet and wanted a job with some lasting meaning. So, I went back to grad school, got my teaching license, and became a middle school teacher. After seven years in the classroom, I became a building administrator. And I loved it.
(That’s me during my first year as an AP. It was wacky hair day … hard to believe those aren’t my actual locks).
But as an administrator, I began to feel wearier and wearier as I spent less and less time at home with my family and more time at the building or lying awake at night thinking about my to-do list.
Far busier than I ever was in the corporate world, I wanted things to be just a bit easier for myself and my admin friends.
So, three years ago, I left the front office and started two different companies, Peer Driven PD and Cogent Solutions.
We’ll talk about Cogent Solutions later, but I want to focus on Peer Driven PD for a minute.
The goal of Peer Driven PD is to make teacher-led PD a reality. The name sort of says it all.
Of course, the hiccup is that teachers are too busy teaching students to train their colleagues.
With Peer Driven PD, we discovered a way to eliminate this hurdle.
We began to ask ourselves, “What if we documented the best strategies, stories, and insights from top-notch teachers around the country and made this content available to schools?”
But here’s the thing. We wanted it to be authentic, not canned and corporate. In order for teachers to love it, it had to be real. Real teachers tackling real problems that exist in real classrooms.
And it was critical that it all be new. Any insights prior to the start of the pandemic are woefully outdated.
We had many exciting conversations with teachers and administrators about the idea. Every educator we talked to gave us some paraphrased version of the same response:
“Yes! What are you waiting for? Got do it right now!“
So, we got some funding to make it happen and we hit the road.
We even formed a focus group of 32 administrators across 17 states to help us make the project as timely and as useful as possible to overwhelmed administrators just like you.
Today, we travel the country and interview phenomenal teachers in a candid and conversational format.
We capture their ideas and practices on topics like classroom management, data-driven reading instruction, project-based learning, math hacks, goal setting, and more. We then license the content to schools like yours in the form of online courses.
The beauty is they can be taken at any time, from anywhere.
(Here’s a short video of me in Denver prior to one of our first big film sessions.)
Since we’ve launched, we’ve had one very clear conclusion: This really works!
Districts love it because it’s an affordable solution with zero tech integration. Administrators love it because it allows for teacher choice and saves them time. And teachers loooooove it because they see themselves in the content.
Whether you’re an elementary, middle, or high school leader, the authenticity and applicability rings true with every type of staff.
(Here are a small handful of the teachers we’ve interviewed over the past two years).
This review from a recent client is a perfect example:
Staff loved having the opportunity to select what was relevant to them (we are a K-12 with a wide range of needs!) Keep doing what you are doing. I truly believe this is the future of PD. It’s flexible and relevant to teachers. Thank you!
I love that review because it gets at the essence of what we do.
“… I truly believe this is the future of PD. It’s flexible and relevant to teachers …”
What would you pay to have professional development that was truly relevant? Something that your staff honestly enjoyed?
I’m talking about content that:
- features full-time classroom teachers that are in the trenches every day, just like you and your staff
- validates the authentic lived experience of your team
- provides real, tested strategies that can be implemented immediately
And to top it all off, it’s 100% ready-to-go without any required tweaking or editing from you?
What would you pay for something like that?
(Spoiler: It is much more affordable than you’d expect).
For less than the cost of sending two or three teachers to a single conference, you can get access for your entire faculty.
Oh yeah, we also include an unlimited number of licenses for para-educators and school support staff at no extra cost.
And it gets even better. As we’re hitting spring and we know you’re just starting to think about next year’s professional development, we’re running a special to help you stay ahead of the curve.
We’re calling it the “Spring Breakdown” sale because … you know … we’re trying to help you avoid one!
We know you’re (hopefully) taking a break this month. We also know that getting district approval for funds can be maddeningly sluggish. That’s why if you request and accept a quote before March 31st, we’ll give you up to 35% off our regular price. That could be thousands of dollars in savings.
(We also accept purchase orders, provide W9s, and can accept any form of payment.)
That’s right; you don’t even need to have payment lined up yet. You can simply let us know that you’re happy with the quote, and we’ll lock in pricing for as long as it takes to get your ducks in a row.
I can hear what you’re saying. That sounds great, but I don’t have time to implement another ed-tech tool. We vet this sort of thing for months. I need a solution now!
This is just one area where we save you a huge amount of time.
We’re not using a platform that has a lot of bugs. We partnered with a developer based in Lansing, Michigan, who has built scaled LMS systems for large organizations like the University of Michigan.
They needed a solution that could get college students online quickly. And we use the same exact system.
Once we finalize an estimate, we can get your staff logged into our system with a single email in a single afternoon. All we need from you is a list of names and email addresses. That’s it.
So, whaddya say?
Do you want to see a sample estimate to prove our solution is more affordable than you’re imagining?