Cover Story: A Radically New Professional Development Model

Special / Uncategorized / January 18, 2019

-by Errol St.Clair Smith-

If you spent 10 years as a fly on the wall listening to educators talk about professional development, you would hear a few often repeated themes: 

— The PD doesn’t meet my specific needs.

— The PD is boring or not deeply engaging.

— The PD is inspiring but doesn’t lead to improved teacher skills.

— The PD doesn’t lead to improved student outcomes.

— The PD is out of context and not customized to our specific conditions.

— The PD is delivered by facilitators with limited or outdated classroom experience.

— The PD facilitator doesn’t understand or can’t relate to specific teacher challenges.

— The PD facilitator doesn’t speak the educators’ technical, professional, or local language.

— The PD facilitators are not present when teachers are struggling to implement practices.

— The PD provider makes grand promises but offers no assurances of results.

I was a fly.  For over a decade my job was to shut up and listen silently to educators from around the world. During that period, I never met an educator who didn’t believe that education professional development is broken. Have you?  In fact,  when we went looking for one, here’s what we found:  

“We know from research what constitutes effective professional development. Despite this knowledge, there are no standards defining quality professional development and too few qualified providers… Without a shared and codified understanding of ‘quality’ professional development, teachers are often subjected to mediocre, and in some cases, malign professional development that doesn’t help them and that in fact wastes their time and donor money.”

Source: Global Education Partnership

“One of the big complaints teachers and administrators have with PD is that they don’t get what they need improve student performance. Unified School District is no less immune to this concern than the rest of the nation. As the report noted, LAUSD spent $500 million to help teachers complete graduate coursework that the report found to be largely pointless in terms of raising student achievement. As the former director of professional development in New York City schools and someone who has devoted most of my professional life to leading teacher professional development, I can tell you that what teachers need to improve their craft is rarely what they receive from professional development. It is far too easy for professional development to miss the mark – even if it follows the research.”

             Source: Yvette Jackson, the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education

“Most teachers only experience traditional, workshop-based professional development, even though research shows it is ineffective. Over 90 percent of teachers participate in workshop-style training sessions during a school year (Darling-Hammond et al., 2009).  Despite its prevalence, the workshop model’s track record for changing teachers’ practice and student achievement is abysmal. Short, one-shot workshops often don’t change teacher practice and have no effect on student achievement (Yoon et al, 2007; Bush, 1984).

      Source: Center for Public Education

“The largest struggle for teachers is not learning new approaches to teaching but implementing them. The reason traditional professional development is ineffective is that it doesn’t support teachers during the stage of learning with the steepest learning curve: implementation… employing a teaching strategy in the classroom is more difficult than learning the strategy itself. In several case studies, even experienced teachers struggled with a new instructional technique in the beginning (Ermeling, 2010; Joyce and Showers, 1982). In fact, studies have shown it takes, on average, 20 separate instances of practice, before a teacher has mastered a new skill, with that number increasing along with the complexity of the skill (Joyce and Showers, 2002).“

     Source: Center for Public Education

You get the point…

So when we looked at updating our FLGI professional development program to meet AALAS Global Standards for Flipped Learning PD, we thought we might as well go “all-in” and resolve any of the perennial issues we could.


The New Flipped Learning Professional Development System

The FLGI New PD Model is the first program built on the Association of Active Learning Arts and Sciences Flipped Learning PD Standards and the Global Elements of Effective Flipped Learning, (GEEFL)

The original FLGI Trainer Certification has been fundamentally redesigned to meet the most current global best practices, and the name has been changed. It’s no longer a “training” certification, but rather a coaching certification.

The two most important things to understand about the new Flipped Learning Coaching Certification are: 


#1 – The new certification program is based on THE most obvious but overlooked best practice – Flipped Learning Professional Development should be flipped.

Surprisingly, the data indicate that most Flipped Learning professional development is delivered by traditional lecture. It’s too heavy on direct instruction and too light on applying, analyzing, evaluating and creating.

During the AALAS Global Standard project, 100 delegates from 49 countries unanimously agreed on the obvious. Flipped Learning Professional Development should be flipped. But what is involved in “flipping” Flipped Learning Professional Development? What challenges are involved? What resources are needed? What exactly do we need to stop doing, what do we need to start doing and what do we need to continue doing as we have? Are there known best practices for flipping Flipped learning professional development? If so where do we learn them?


#2 – The second most important thing you need to know is that this FL Coaching Certification Course is designed to be part of a complete Flipped Learning Professional Development System.

This Flipped Learning Certified Coaching Program represents a massive shift in how Flipped Learning PD is delivered. The program was developed from the ground up to tackle the biggest problems and complaints with professional development.

The big innovation in the new system is the way it combines global and local professional development. The professional development is highly standardized where it matters most and highly customized, personalized, and contextualized where it matters most.

How it Works

The new Flipped Learning Professional Development is “flipped” and divided into three parts:


The prework covers the core concepts of Flipped Learning are delivered online by the leading global curator of Flipped Learning best practices — FLGI.


The hands-on PD is delivered on-site by Certified Flipped Learning Coaches who customize and localize the face-to-face experience to fit the context and specific needs.


Teachers are supported when the need is greatest — when they are implementing the instructional strategies. Post-workshop support is provided by a combination of local Certified Flipped Learning Coaches and an online global Flipped Learning support team.

The magic of this global-local blended model is that the professional development is highly standardized where it matters most and highly customized, personalized, and contextualized where it matters most.


Changing the Rules of PD

There are eight (8) primary advantages built into the FLGI Flipped Learning Professional Development System:

1. The Content Is Current – Anyone can create Flipped Learning instructional videos. The challenge is keeping them updated. The new PD model is supported by FLGI, who currently maintains the most rigorous video-updating system and schedule in the world. This ensures educators get the most current global best practices during their PD sessions.

2. The Highest Standards – The Prework is based on globally-curated, peer-reviewed best practices and is designed to meet or exceed the AALAS Global Gold Standard. All PD facilitated by  Flipped Learning Certified Coaches is internationally accredited and qualifies for graduate credit.

3. Fidelity – The PD begins online with FLGI self-paced video instruction. This ensures that every educator, anywhere in the world, gets the exact same quality of instruction on the fundamentals of Flipped Learning.

4. Master Classes – The core concepts are not delivered by any single Flipped Learning “expert.” Instead, the PD is delivered by a “global team” of the best-Flipped Learning practitioners in the world.

5. Focus on Immersive Workshops – Certified Flipped Learning Coaches are free from the burden of curating, creating, and updating videos for Flipped PD. The coach’s role in the new PD system is to specialize in creating the most practical, relevant, and riveting workshops and group coaching sessions imaginable. Certified Flipped Learning Coaches learn how to empower educators, customize, localize and personalize Flipped Learning PD.

6. A Proven Global Roadmap – Certified Flipped Learning Coaches learn how to use the GEEFL as a roadmap for delivering Flipped Learning PD.

7. Globally Qualified PD Facilitators – FLGI Certified Flipped Learning Coaches learn the most current best practices, are regularly reviewed and are annually recertified.

8. PD Guarantee – FLGI backs the new professional development model with a money-back guarantee.

The global-local blended PD model ensures educators get the most current and the most customized professional development and a performance guarantee backed by FGLI

Look for more news about the FLGI Flipped Learning Professional Development System in the next issue of FLR.

Errol St.Clair Smith
I am the Director of Global Development at the Flipped Learning Global Initiative. I joined the education community in 2005, working closely with national education organizations on community outreach and professional development. Over the last decade, I’ve led the development of community platforms for The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE); the Association of Curriculum Developers (ASCD); the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), the International Reading Association (IRA), the National Associations for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the National Association of School Nurses (NASN), the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the National Parent Teachers Association (NPTA), and the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO). I'm honored to have received four Emmy nominations and an Emmy Award for public affairs programming. In 2017 I co-authored Flipped Learning 3.0 with Jon Bergmann. The book was updated based on the AALAS Global Elements of Effective Flipped Learning in 2019.

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