Monday, April 16, 2012

Professional Development Plan

Untitled Document

Outlining My Professional Development

Alignment of Goals with School Improvement Plan
School Improvement Goal Classroom Improvement Goal
To meet the AYP standards for all subgroups 85% of our students will make learning gains in mathematics on the 2011-2012 FCAT 2.0. To improve parent teacher communication among students and families with disabilities.
To implement and promote technology tools that will lead to student engagement and  effective learning strategies within the classroom setting.  
Needs Assessment Professional Development Objectives
FCAT results reveal a drop in Math acheivement among students with disabilities as well as those among the lower socio-economic group. Classroom reports identify 5 out of 14 students who've achieved a level 1 in Math, all others (except 3) received a level 2 or above. The three exceptions did not meet testing criteria.
According to the Lake County Beginnig of the Year Benchmark Testing, all 15 students are performing below 50% mastery in math skills.
I will implement strategies recommended by R. Marzano to enhance student performance in all academic subject areas.
* I would like to increase my students math knowledge by demonstrating various stategies to solve a single math problem.

* I would like to increase my students math comprehension of word problems by demonstrating how to recognize/highlight key words and identifying the correct operation.

* I would like to increase the engagement level of my students by incorporating more hands - on- activities, visual representations and or techonology links.
Specific Professional Training and Learning Activities
** Graduate Course work on Instructional Strategies and Design

-Related Courses include: 1. Learning Theories and Instruction (9/2010-10/2010)  and 2. Instructional  Design (10/2010-11/2010).
I will also attend Spring Workshop on how to create / use Manipulatives in the classroom.

I will attend Classworks training on how to implement technology lessons for tracking progress according to benchmarks.

I will attend a Study Island Webinar session on how to incorporate techonology component for additional math assignments and or homework to allow parent participation.

I will attend and participate in  Team Trainings to improve and enhance my teaching strategies within the classroom.

I will Chair and attend Grade Level meetings to keep abreast of the issues effecting the classroom setting.

Completed / In Progress :

*After School Tutor 2009-2011

* PTO Treasure 2010-2011

* Technology Committee Member 2011-2012

*Technology Mentor and Coordinator for professional development of others 2011-2012
My training path will include a cobination of formal / informal education, and assessment. I will obtain my formal education from Walden University in the field of Technology and Design. Walden's online feature will allow 24 hour access to coursework at my own convenience and pace. The coursework design will enhance my skills and in technology, which is in alignment with my professional goal of implementing technology in the classroom. Informal coursework or trainings through Classworks and Study Island Webinars will assist in meeting the specificied math goal, while tracking the progress of my students. Having the ability to track my student's progress via technology tools will promote self assessment in my own progress towards effective technology implementation. Participation in team trainings will include formal and informal assessments by peers and administrators. Assessment responses and results may be used to further guide and develop my capacity to transfer required skills and knowledge to the job.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Technological Advancements

Technological Advancements Used in Training

Technological advancements have had a great impact on the learning and training of individuals.  Time efficiency and cost savings have been among the most commonly cited advantages.  Business organizations and learning institutions alike are constantly exploring and seeking the technological tools that will best fit their needs.  Some may seek tools to assist with individual performance or learning goals, while others seek collaborative tools in order to brainstorm solutions.  Advancements in technology have provided such tools to meet these needs.

As an educator, I am interested in tools can improve the learning and performance of individuals, while keeping them engaged in content.  Intelligent Tutoring Systems were developed specifically to fit the need of the individual learner.  It provides learning systems for tutoring, coaching and personal empowerment (Noe, 2010).  As an added resource in the classroom, ITS can be advantageous as a teaching tool by allowing instructors to focus on other aspects of the learning content.  ITS can be accessed 24 hours a day and assist a multitude of learners. The most challenging aspect of the intelligent tutoring system is finding a balance between giving and withholding assistance (Johnson, Phillips & Chase, 2009). This is a trait found in human tutors, which prompts the learners to become more effective in solving problems on their own. Despite this lacking feature, I suspect ITS to expand in popularity.   As current trends in education lean towards more individualized instruction, ITS may provide extended support for virtual, home and campus based classrooms.

Limited resources or geographical constraints may prevent access to many technological tools. Interactive Distance Learning Systems use satellite technology to broadcast programs to different locations, learning environments will have the ability to reach remote locations where internet and other technology tools may be limited (Noe, 2012). All that will be required is a television screen were learners or trainees can simply view a live or taped program.  IDL systems may have more of an impact on the global expansion of learning than any other format.

Virtual Reality and Virtual Worlds may have a greater impact on learner engagement.  Virtual reality adds depth to simulation by creating a three dimensional environment while providing technology devises that allows the learner to input sensory information (Noe, 2010).  Virtual worlds are a great way to immerse learners into a type of reality, by mimicking real world experiences and outcomes.  “Several researchers have reported improved learning gains related to the use of virtual worlds in science classrooms” (Iqbal, Kankaanranta & Neittaanmaki, 2010). Focused is placed on scientific investigations and social learning as depicted in Atlantis and River City. The environment promotes exploratory and inquiry based learning, which requires a change in roles for instructors. Teachers will then take on the role of facilitator or guide, while students become explorers, apprentices or producers of knowledge (Iqbal et al, 2010). 

Organizations are not only looking for producers of knowledge, but they are also seeking teams of individuals that can effectively generate business solutions.  Collaborative teams may consist of individuals with various expertise, talents, and responsibilities.  Since larger organizations may have team members that are dispersed in various locations, Groupware technology may be used to cut travel costs.  Collaborative “groups play a critical role in most of the activities in today's organizations: strategic decision making, unstructured problem identification and solving, planning, idea generation and other collaborative group activities” (Pazos, & Beruvides, 2009).  Groupware will allow teams to generating work related solutions, while combining elements such as email, document management, and bulletin boards.  Teams may also use groupware to track, share and organize information simultaneously (Noe, 2010).

Just like Groupware is there to support the group in problem solving, Electronic Performance Support Systems are there to support the individual. The EPSS system can be compared to a personal assistant, there to support the learner in all their performance needs. It stores a warehouse of knowledge and resources that will enable the learner to achieve required levels of performance in the fastest possible time with minimum support from others (Noe, 2010).  As EPPS is structured to meet the needs of the learner, business organizations may see long term improvements in performance as well as a solid return on investment. 


Iqbal, A., Kankaanranta, M., & Neittaanmaki, P. (2010). Engaging learners through virtual            worlds. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 2, 3198–3205.  Agora Center, University of Jyvaskyla.

Johnson, B., Phillips, F. & Chase, L. (2009). An intelligent tutoring system for the accounting       cycle: Enhancing textbook homework with artificial intelligence. Journal of Accounting Edition 27, 30-39.

Noe, R. A. (2010). Employee training and development (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Pazos, P., & Beruvides, M. G. (2009). The impact of communication medium on team performance patterns. IIE Annual Conference.Proceedings, , 386-390.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Planning a Needs Assessment

Planning for a Needs Assessment

     Customer service is the heart of Southwest Airlines and is the driving force behind its mission. “[Our mission] highlights our desire to serve our customers and gives us direction when we have to make service-related decisions” (Southwest Airlines, 2012). Therefor training needs will undoubtedly focus on how to maintain and or improve quality standards in customer service.

      Southwest takes pride in its ability to establish and maintain positive relationships among its employees, customers, investment stakeholders and the community at large. These are the stakeholders, along with upper and lower management that would have an interest in training outcomes. So getting their buy-in would be vital to the success of the program. The following chart outlines a brief plan for conducting a needs assessment.

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Planning Chart
Elements of Assessments StakeholdersQuestions to AskStrategies to Implement
Organizational Upper and Lower management, Business partners 1. How might training content affect our employee’s relationship with our customer’s?
2. What might suppliers, customers or partners need to know about the training program?
3. What do we need from managers / peers to succeed?
Interview: Good for uncovering details of training needs as well as causes and solutions to problems.
Person Employees 1. What might keep you from giving your best service to your customers?
2. How do you deal with customer complaints.
3. How do you motivate your employees on the job?
Observation: Generates data relevant to work environment and minimizes interruption of work.
Questionnaire: Good for collecting data from large group and easily summarized.
Tasks Managers, Employees What steps / activities are involved in accommodating a passenger from arrival at the airport to landing at their destination? Documentation: Good source of information on procedure as well as good source of task information.
Information in this chart is based on recommended techniques provided by Raymond A. Noe (2010) Employee Training and Development; Advantages and Disadvantages of Needs Assessment Techniques

     To conduct the needs assessment there are several phases that would need to be addressed; organizational, person and task analysis. The organizational analysis identifies whether a training program will support the strategic direction of company (Noe, 20102). According to Southwest’s mission statement, the company would support training activities that will further enhance performance in customer service. With customer service being a top priority, interviews may be conducted with upper and lower management to gain a deeper understanding as to how training may affect the relationship between Southwest employees and its customers.

      The personal analysis will examine individual responses to training as it will seek answers to the questions such as; “what might keep you from giving your best service to your customers?” Or “how do you motivate you employees on the job?” These questions may be posed to managers and employees alike through anonymous surveys. Another approach to gaging the affect training may have on relationships is through observations. For example, are Southwest employees always courteous and respectful to customer even during demanding situations? Observations provide a closer look what actually happens during interactions. Although observation may allow consultants to gain insight into the true picture, the disadvantage occurs when those who know they are being observed act perform differently than they normally would if not observed (Noe, 2010).

      A task analysis will provide a detailed description of the work activities that have to be performed by the employees. Conducting such and analysis will help pinpoint the training needs along with identification of causes and effects. Noe (2010) recommends using a task analysis questionnaire to determine which tasks should be included in the trainings. Once these tasks are identified Southwest will then be able to identify what skills, knowledge and abilities its employees will need in order to effectively perform their job.

      Training may not always be necessary; it is only likely if the employees don’t know how to perform (Noe, 2010).  If training has been identified as a need, a careful needs assessment should be done first. All training efforts require the support of the stakeholders, so getting their buy in will be important.  To gain insight into the company’s needs various methods, such as interviews, surveys, documentation and or observations may be implemented. The most important thing to remember though is that the training should align with the company’s mission and vision for their future.


Noe, R. A. (2010). Employee training and development (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Southwest Airlines. (2012). Customer service commitment. Retrieved on March 6, 2012 from   

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Training and Development

"Training is not a luxury"(Noe, 2010). Companies will need to examine their approach and look beyond training activities that simply improve basic skills and knowledge. To be competitive companies must be willing to create learning environments that produce employees who are willing to create and share their knowledge. Many companies though will avoid training programs due to limited belief in the value of training programs or simply to cut costs. This resistance to training may pose challenges for performance consultants, so I have composed an "elevator speech" designed to convince employers and their companies to buy in to a training and development program that will leverage their human capital and put their company back in the competition. Take a listen and let me know what you think.

Click on link to listen:

Transcript of Speech:
If you would be willing to share your vision of your company’s desired performance, then I can help you develop strategic training activities that are learner centered and automatic. Why learner centered, because your greatest resource is in human capital. By tapping into to your human capital, your company can cut costs and leverage its potential by creating training programs that train employees in the art of creating and sharing knowledge. Collaborative training can “accelerate the pace of employee learning” by promoting personalized learning opportunities and customized feedback.  Once your training needs have been identified and effective training has been provided, your company should be able to meet its goals as well as meet your customer’s standards in quality.  This will only work though if you company is willing to ensure a supportive work environment.  A supportive work environment will help attract and retain talented employees. These are the employees that will produce a competitive edge for your company.


Noe, R. A. (2010). Employee training and development (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Scope Creep and Risk

About two years ago, my ESE Department implemented an after school tutoring program specifically aimed at students with disabilities.  The goal was to improve the students’ phonics and reading comprehension skills. To ensure intense instruction and maximum support for our students, we decided that the class size for each teacher should be no more than ten students. This way we could also rotate among small groups of five or pair in twos.  Funding for the program was obtained through an educational grant of $20,000. We had just enough money to buy a complete reading curriculum, priced at $7, 795 and to pay our small staff of ESE teachers, which totaled $7, 200.  The rest of the money was to be used for supplies and supplemental materials.  The program was to last for a duration of 6 six weeks, but we only had three weeks to plan and get the program started.

 By the end of week 2, the students had been identified and selected for the invitations to be sent home and that’s when our Principal threw in a curve ball.  After careful consideration and an examination of past FCAT scores, she thought it would be best for us to also add in a math component along with additional “at risk” students who have been identified during the RTI process as needing additional remediation in math and reading.  This addition would certainly increase our expenditures for resources, especially since we were not planning for a math component, along with an increase in students per class. The increase in class size left us all feeling a little disappointed, because the larger number would mean less individual time with students, which was one of our primary purposes. The initial number of students given to us included about 40 other students, which would have put each class at about 20 students. So we needed go come up with a contingency plan and had one week left before launch date.

So feeling the pressure of the short notice, we presented a list of concerns to our Principal along with a list of compromises that would allow the ESE team to meet the goals of small group instruction, with an additional math component.  We were able to get the number of additional students reduced to 20, thereby limiting the class size to no more than 15 students per class. Although the class size was still larger than we originally planned, the number was still small enough for us to effectively manage small group instruction. For the addition of the math component, we decided to focus on mathematical word problems and critical thinking skills. This approach still gave us the opportunity to focus on reading comprehension skills.   We used some of the money we had set aside for supplies, to purchase inexpensive classroom sets of problem solving workbooks. We were able to use our previously purchased sets of math manipulative to supplement our hands on activities for the small groups. With three days left before the start date, we each divided up the list of students to make personal phone calls to parents of the selected students.  With one day left to spare, we were able to gain permission and enrollment on all our student participants!  Now the only thing we had to wait on, was our order of supplies and materials.  But we had a contingency plan for that too!

This project taught me that often time changes will be dictated by the boss or upper management that can present a certain amount of risk.  Although our Principal had the authority to make decisions that we were obligated to follow, we were fortunate in that she was willing to listen to our concerns and alternative suggestions.  The success of a project can be determined in the PM’s ability to effectively identify and communicate the risks along with providing a written contingency plan.  “The best strategy for addressing risk focuses on minimizing the chances that the risks will occur, developing contingency plans in they do occur, and continually updating the project’s risk management plan throughout the remainder of the project” (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton & Kramer, 20007).


Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


Thursday, September 22, 2011


Simple Communication

As ID professionals, we all know that effective communication is essential to any project.  Communication is the bridge to building and maintaining working relationships. If done properly, communication can bring people together for a common cause. If done improperly, communication can poke holes in the best of intentions.

There are several forms communications may take place during our project endeavors.  The most common in this day and age occurs through email. Sending an email is one of the most common ways to communicate across office structures, especially in work environments where the usage of mobile devices such as cell phones for texting, are limited or simply prohibited. Either way, text communications can have their drawbacks.  The following email message for example, gives the impression that although this co-worker is requesting specific data to complete her report by the deadline, receiving the data is not that urgent of a matter. She leaves the window open for Mike to respond whenever he feels he has the opportunity to get around to it. What do you think?

                Hi Mark,

                I know you have been busy and possibly in that all day meeting today, but I really need an ETA on the        missing report. Because you r report contains data I need to finish my report, I might miss my own deadline if I don’t get your report soon. Please let me know when you think you can get your report sent over to me, or even if you can send the data I need in a separate email. I really appreciate your help.

                -Laureate Education, Inc

This same message sent via voicemail, evokes a little more feeling. The courteous and professional tone of the message urges you to reply in kind, but does not necessarily move you to act immediately. 

In the face to face meeting, Mike is confronted with the issue first hand. Although the tone is consistently polite and professional, you can see the concern on the co-worker’s face, which provokes an immediate response. Making a request in person also carries with it the weight of urgency, meaning if someone is willing to take the time out of their busy schedule to come see you about a matter, then that signals that an immediate response is expected.

So this experience has proven what we’ve already known about communication, as the interaction decreases, the potential for misinterpretation increases. What does this mean for communication efforts between team members?  That communications should be specific, professional, and time sensitive when requesting or sending information to others.  My personal rule of thumb is to make sure to include the: who, when, where and how as much as possible, especially when talking to others from a distance (email, text, written or voicemail). What would you do?


The Art of Communication. (n.d.). [Video] Laureate Education, Inc. Retrieved from:

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Project Endeavor and Evaluation

A Summer Project

As a public education teacher there is always a need to supplement income. So I along with a co-worker friend of mine, decided to try our hands at starting up an academic summer camp for struggling students.  We came up with the idea two months before school was to end so we were really anxious to get the ball rolling. Outside of our intention to supplement our summer income, our primary purpose for the camp was to provide learning activities that would increase student skills in reading comprehension and math skills. We both  had been working in the Special Education field and felt that our background  and experience would be beneficial for those students who were struggling in these areas or simply wanted to get ahead for the upcoming school year.

We weren’t sure who or how many would be interested, so we created a mini brochure introducing the camp and its purpose. We included contact information so the parents could call, express interest and reserve a spot. We would later call them back to confirm acceptance and invite them to a formal orientation.  In the meantime, we had to book a location, as we expected a high response. Due to our very limited budget, we needed to find a location that would either be free or charge us no more than $ 100 per month for rent. We were very lucky. Our local city hall building had small rooms available for community functions and would only charge $75 per month.  So with our location secured we were ready to start accepting our summer participants.

To our surprise we had over 60 interested participants.  We soon realized though that our location would not hold all 60 at once. Therefore we needed to change our plan to have a full day summer camp into a half day summer camp with two sessions of no more than 20 students per session. Each session was to last for two and half hours with a lunch break in between. The cost per session was $25 per session for 4 days per week, which yielded $100 dollars per child. So the payoff for the two of us was pretty nice. The parents seem to think that the price was reasonable too, compared to other summer camps.  After it was all said and done we ended up with an average of 40 student participants over a six week period. Some opted for a full day program due to work schedules and others tapered off due to vacation trips or financial hardship.

Other issues that we needed to address were lack of materials for the various levels of students that we acquired. Part of this was due to lack of initial start-up funding and limited time to really assess the needs of our participants. We were also initially counting on having the ability to use several computers with internet access. We had come across several online learning sites that we wanted to incorporate into the curriculum to supplement our lack in materials. At the very last minute we were told that the city would not be able to provide these computers as originally planned.  We also noticed that towards the end of each session, there were several of our student participants who needed time to be active (outside) play, due to developmental or attention deficit concerns. Unfortunately, the facility did not have an outside play area, so we had to revise our lesson schedules again to include some indoor fun activities. That revision turned out to be a positive one though, because it gave the participants something fun to look forward to at the end of the session. It also gave us a mental break and more time to preplan for our afternoon session.

Overall my co-worker and I were pleased with the outcome. We did not really do an in-depth survey for our parents at the end but we did ask if they would be interested in returning the following summer. Most replied that they would especially for the price that was set. Others wanted to know if would be able to do a full day and some were interested in having their children attend field trips. Just about all the children said they wanted to return, but many wanted to take trips to the movies and have a pizza day! We think this response was prompted by our end of the summer pizza party.

If we had to do it all over again, we would definitely take more time to plan and gather resources. We also needed a back- up contingency plan for the failed computer idea. We eventually used some of the profits we made to buy materials to support hands-on activities, but we weren’t able to do that until 3-4 weeks in to our summer program. It would have also been helpful had we been able to assess each participant to quickly identify specific skills that needed to be addressed. We did do a brief survey intake from the parents who identified the weak subject areas, but a more in-depth survey would have led to better lesson plans and activities from the start. As time went on though, we were able to identify some individual needs of the students rather quickly. Although the facility seemed a little small at times, the city staff was very flexible, friendly and helpful. They even helped the first week with directing traffic and setting up cones, so the parents could get in an out the drop off area without any problems. Although we would like to find larger facility, we couldn’t beat that price plus they provided free advertising in their marque, newsletter and website.

Our next project endeavor can be improved by finding and taking time to effectively assess our student participants before the start of program. A simple needs assessment form can be filled out by the parents which would identify the specific learning needs of their child. This way we will ensure that our learning activities are confirming and addressing identified needs (Portny Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, & Sutton, 2008 ). We would also benefit greatly by planning for the unknown or examining our limitations imposed by various needs, such as budget, spacing, and accounting for holiday and vacation schedules.  Determining and planning for limitations is a fact finding process that can led to quick resolutions and time saving efforts (Portny et al, 2008).  


Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.