The Pro-D Flip

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"The Pro-D Flip by David Truss"

Since writing my 3 Keys to a Flipped Classroom blog post, I have been reading many great contributions to the discussion around flipping classrooms. Last week I was commenting on Lisa Nielsen’s thoughtful post Five Reasons I’m Not Flipping Over The Flipped Classroom and something occurred to me…

I have flipped my Professional Development!

I’ve done this with my blog and with Twitter.

Professional Development for me used to be about going to sessions on specific days and then trying to ‘bring back’ what I’ve learned and incorporate it into my daily practice. Sometimes this was very challenging, I would get inundated with new information and find it very hard to apply what I learned into what I did on a day-to-day basis. Often my notes would be filed away, not to be seen again.

The Old Way

Sign up -> Go to session -> Take (paper) notes -> File notes away (with intentions to go back to them) -> Repeat.

Now Pro-D seems to be different for me. The key thing is that I don’t ever wait for Professional Development Days or conferences to initiate learning opportunities. In fact, my Pro-D choices stem from what I’m already learning about on Twitter, and sharing in other learning spaces like my blog, Diigo, and

The New Way

Follow links on Twitter -> Dig deeper then blog my ideas -> Seek related Pro-D opportunities -> Connect to other participants -> Share as I learn -> Consolidate ideas and blog again -> Follow links on Twitter…


Now, Professional Development needs to change to accommodate a new kind of learning journey that participants are on:

1. Share resources, and make connecting easy, ahead of time.

2. Make sessions about action not information.

3. Use the skills of the participants (have them not just participate, but also lead).



1. Share resources/connecting ahead of time

2. Action, not information
  • Learning in Louisiana – I joined a team from November Learning to present to groups of teachers on the topics of Blogs, Wikis, Podcasting, PLN’s and other Web2.0 tools. Most of the event was hands-on with teachers having a lot of time to try the tools out.
  • Flat Classroom Conference – Beijing 2011 – We broke into teams and developed our own flat projects. I haven’t followed up with our ‘Reportizens‘ project yet, but I do think this is something I would like to pursue!
3. Use participants skills
  • EduBloggerCon events which include a ‘Smackdown‘ where participants share tools they like in rapid succession.
  • Edcamp – “…an unconference devoted to K-12 Education issues and ideas. A new kind of professional development dedicated to giving educators a voice.”
Putting these three pieces together isn’t easy. If you pre-load too much before hand, not everyone will come prepared. If you are all about action and not information, then why do people need to come to your sessions? If you empower participants to lead, some will thrive on it, while others will wonder why they paid if they had to help run a session.
You can please some people some times, but you can’t please all the people all the time! 🙂
It is hard for a one-hour session or even a conference to meet the needs of every participant. That said, I do think there has been a shift in expectations as more educators have become connected learners. For me and for many others, the Pro-D session of old can no longer meet our learning needs. We have flipped our professional development and now we want, we expect, to be active participants in our learning before, during, and after a professional development session.

[Cross-posted on the David Truss :: Pair-a-Dimes for Your Thoughts blog]


  1. I was just writing a blog post (about disappointing PD I had over the weekend and me and another participant had discussed the idea of having come prepared and informed through some pre-reading so that we could have used the face-to-face time for more valuable connections and really put the development back into professional development (guess it kinda puts the professional back in too).

    I’ve definitely had more consistent success with self-initiated PD (Twitter leads, etc.) than with traditional PD. Or if not more consistent, then the diminished commitment to a disappointing PD lead means you don’t feel like you’ve wasted time and money for questionably useful PD. As is so often emphasized by professional educators, learning can and does happen everywhere so why not lead by example and, as educators, maximize our scarce time for PD. Hopefully more ‘formal’ PD will begin to adopt this Pro-D Flip approach.

  2. Thanks for the comment Jesse @twowaystairs!
    I went by your blog and read your ‘Flipped PD: Walking the Talk’ post that you were writing while I was writing this:

    I think this post is an excellent read that clearly outlines the “why” for seeking out Pro-D sessions that engage you even before you enter the room or the conference. I love this from your post:

    “Like the flipped classroom idea, why not initiate a kind of flipped professional development model where some research and reading is done before the workshop and then, once people have traveled their hundreds or thousands of miles to interact with other teachers, they can actually ‘unpack‘… the content and delve deeper through sharing of experiences.”

    I don’t just think this should happen at Pro-D opportunities. I’m a Vice Principal now and I’d love to see our admin meetings include more opportunities to ‘unpack’ ideas and to harness the wisdom in the room. Send us out all the informational items ahead of time and then after a 15 min. Question & Answer period have colleagues do short presentations about great things happening in their buildings or about books they have read or projects they want to start.

    Thanks for your comment!

  3. I agree that the one-size-fits-all model for professional development does not work. I’m just not convinced that dressing up the same information in technology is the answer. Technology for technology sake is not necessarily better education.

  4. Thanks for your comment Lynn,

    You bring up a very good point! Please note that although I suggest ways to use technology to share, the premise of this post is not technology dependent… (Actually number 1 sort of is, but in a way that provides useful access to what will be shared):

    1. Share resources, and make connecting easy, ahead of time.

    2. Make sessions about action not information.

    3. Use the skills of the participants (have them not just participate, but also lead).

    With respect to using “Technology for technology sake”, I could not agree with you more, and here is a blog post I wrote on that subject:

    Thanks again for taking the time to comment!

  5. I am flipping PD for my teachers. I am currently working on an “action project” based on Tony Wagners: Would you hire your kids? Seven Skills Schools Should be Teaching Them. I have created the lesson line up and sent it to the teachers, they are to view the information and be prepared to discuss it and bring examples of how they teach the first two skills in their classrooms. We are a grades 9-12 independent school. I am hoping this will create some energy and some collaborative interdepartmental ideas will evolve. We meet on Feb 16th for our PD meeting.



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