Cloud Based PD and The Compelled Tribe

This is my first post as part of the Compelled Tribe, a group of teachers and leaders looking to encourage each other to blog and grow.  You can find more information in this post by Jennifer Hogan.  Now on to my first post.

I’ve been blown away the past two weeks by the people I work with.  A lot of really exciting things have been happening.  I’m lucky to be a part of a group of seven teachers who decided we wanted to start a book study and grow together.  We chose our first book, Hacking Education:  10 Quick Fixes For Every School by Mark Barnes and Jennifer Gonzalez, and got started collaborating using the website (the software is pricey, luckily you can apply for a free education license).  The first “hack” of the book is titled “Meet Me In The Cloud” regarding cloud based professional development.  This came at exactly the right time as our Principal has asked me to lead some professional development this week on Restorative Practices.


I struggled at first with whether or not to try something new with this PD.  I know when someone else fires up a Google Slide Show on a PD day I’m the first person to grab a pen and start doodling, not because I’m not listening, but because I need to be doing something with my hands in order to keep my attention on the speaker.  I wanted to break out of that mold, but I was nervous that people wouldn’t respond to something different and something new.  More than that, I didn’t want to put anything additional on the plates of people who are already giving most of what they have to our scholars every single day.  I had resolved to try something cloud based, but when I was running it by a few people they weren’t sure, one person telling me they didn’t like the idea and another telling me straight up that teachers wouldn’t participate.

Luckily, someone I trust very much (shoutout to @mskaestner) convinced me that it was worth a shot.  I took the presentation I had been working on, which was mixture of sit-and-get plus active learning, and flipped it into full on information mode.  23 slides packed full of everything I wanted teachers to know.  Then I made a new board on, posted the presentation with some directions on how to work the software, and gave people a KWL template to work with.   As I said above, I’ve been blown away by the response.

Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 9.32.56 PM

You can see my presentation on the left side.  In the middle you see the KWL chart.  Each post-it note is something another teacher has written.  On top of the post-it notes you can see little orange chat boxes, those are comment threads that other teachers have started regarding the content of the original post-it notes, some containing 5 comments themselves.  On the far right you can see part of the resources and activities that we will be using when we get together.  Our time will be 100% activity based because of all the work these great people have done looking over the material and discussing it with each other.  I’ve seen them log in at all hours of the day and night, reading and posting.  Their conversations have been powerful and their questions have led us down a number of different paths that we’ll be able to explore in person on Monday.  The content promises that those conversations will be interesting, possibly even difficult, but the level of participation has proven to me that the engagement will be there.

It’s amazing what has happened here.  I’m ashamed I doubted the dedication and willingness of the great people I work with to engage with these materials on their own time and start a dialogue with their peers.  Sometimes we just need a platform and an opportunity to grow together.  I hope this is just the beginning of our PD in the Cloud journey.  It’s been really exciting so far!

7 thoughts on “Cloud Based PD and The Compelled Tribe

  1. This sounds very exciting, Chris! It’s so cool that teachers can “participate” at any time of the day or night to prepare for the face-to-face meeting. Kudos to you for trying something new and modeling risk-taking for the teachers! I can’t wait to hear how the F2F meeting goes. Thanks for sharing the realtimeboard resource, too.


  2. Chris,

    Thank you for sharing and thank you for becoming a part of the Compelled Tribe! I love how you used the feedback given to provide something that will be useful to everyone. It’s always great to branch out and it helps us do that when we model for each other (Thanks!) Keep up the great work and sharing out!



  3. I am eager to learn more about and try out realtimeboard. I think that being part of the Compelled Tribe will encourage all of us to try new things – including maybe leading some PD! Congrats on your achievement!


  4. This is a fantastic professional learning and input tool that you have put in place for your staff. I will be using the realtime board resource with my staff as we work on broadening our staff input options. Please let us know how your next steps go. Looking forward to learning and sharing with you!


  5. Glad to meet you fellow Compelled Tribe member!

    This post is coming at just the right time as our school is undergoing a lot of changes and will require a lot of PD this spring. We need a way to get people actively involved and excited about the changes.

    Did you give everyone the link to the presentation prior to the PD day?

    I will definitely be checking out the realtime board. Thanks for sharing!



  6. Chris,
    I am excited to be a part of your #CompelledTribe! I love that you had an idea and took a risk and found success. I haven’t used realtimeboard before but am going to add it to my list to try with staff at my school in the future. I will be back to read how your actually meeting goes too.
    Good Luck,


  7. Chris, This is awesome! I cannot wait to learn more from you as a part of your #compelledtribe! Good for you for trying something new and modeling best practice. I also appreciate how you got feedback from colleagues before you even tried it. Can’t wait to read more! Looks like we like the same style blog too 🙂 Allyson


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