5 Steps for Planning and Designing Professional Development

Header - Reed - 5 Steps PD

Are you struggling with where to begin as you prep your next professional development session? Latoya Reed, district instructional coach in Tennessee, walks through her step-by-step guide for creating targeted PD and how to avoid roadblocks that may come your way.


rofessional development is an essential role for instructional coaches, as it allows us to share our knowledge with teachers to help them grow their instructional capacity. Over my career, I've developed five steps that help me to plan and prepare for a PD session, with guiding questions to help along the way.

Grab your laptop and some scratch paper as I walk you through the planning process for your next session!

Step 1: Set your focus and goals

The first step that I take is to make decisions about the PD. During this step, think through the following questions:

  • What presentation style will you use? For example, virtual or in-person.
  • What is your focus for the presentation? Some examples include literacy centers, academic conversations, or topics from your administrator.
  • What goals do you have for your presentation? What do you want your learners to walk away knowing? For instance, define what's a coaching cycle and how it can help improve my instruction.

Step 2: Consider your audience

When you have established your presentation type, focus, and goals, it's time to focus on your audience. Ask yourself:

  • What stakeholders will you present to during your presentation (e.g., teachers, instructional coaches, or principals)?
  • How can you communicate information to your participants before the presentation? This could be an email that has prework or the agenda.
  • What level of knowledge do participants have about the content to be presented? Think about it. If your topic is on literacy centers, teachers may not need much background information and strategies. If you're presenting to principals, they may need more information on the background before going into tactics.

Step 3: Plan your content

Now the fun begins—this is your chance to brainstorm and think about all of your ideas for the session! I like to start with a brain dump:

  • Think about all of the things you want to talk about during the presentation, jot them down, and then sort them into related groups.
  • Name the groups, set objectives for each, and then order them to outline your presentation.
  • Lastly, find research-backed evidence to support your work.

The last bullet point is key. Educators are more receptive to new information when it's researched-back and has data that supports it.

Step 4: Prep and deliver

An integral part of the preparation includes estimating the timing of each slide to ensure you don't run over—and that you're making the most of your allotted time. With your outline handy, take a moment to think about everything you have to prepare for the presentation; this could include agendas, handouts, copies, note catchers, and even technology for your participants.

Then, when the day has arrived, arrive early to set up, work through technology issues, and do a last-minute check to ensure you have everything you need. Let me give you an example from my own experience of why this is so crucial. During one of my presentations, I learned that my laptop didn't have the input that the projector at the hotel needed to plug into my computer, so I ended up using someone else's computer. Luckily, I arrived early and was able to work everything out!

Pro-tip: Run through your presentation ahead of time and type any ideas you want to mention that are key for each slide in the notes section.

Step 5: Gather feedback and reflect

After your successful PD session, it's reflection time! Ensure that you make time for your participants to reflect and provide feedback on the session, which gives you some solid data on how the presentation went and how you can improve it in the future.

Lastly, don't leave all the reflection for the participants—be sure to do some yourself! Think about what you wish would have happened differently, what went well, and whether or not the goals you set were achieved.

Self-reflection about your preparation and delivery will aid in your continuous improvement in your coaching work.

Final note

By carefully prepping using the guiding questions in this five-step process, you can plan and deliver a presentation to help your teachers not only grow their instructional capacity but also leave them with new skills to bring back to the classroom. Why don’t you give it a try for your next session!

If you have any other tips or guiding questions that may be helpful for your peers, be sure to leave them in the comments section below. 😀

Bonus: Here's a one-pager on this 5-step process that you can print and hang up in your room!

About our Guest Blogger

Latoya Reed is an experienced instructional coach in her 15th year in education. Before her current role as a District Lead Literacy Coach—where she supports eleven schools and literacy coaches to help them carry out their vision for literacy—she was a classroom teacher for eight years instructing ESL students. She taught Kindergarten, first grade, and second grade. Latoya has also been an ESL co-teacher and provided support for ESL students in the general education classroom, plus a school-based coach for three years.

Latoya lives in the Nashville, TN area with her husband and serves as the Flying into Learning curriculum creator. Be sure to connect with her on Twitter @flyintolearning!

Continue reading more great posts!