Professional development for teachers and other educators can suffer because of the lack of time and dedicated personnel in schools. Busy instructional leaders are challenged to provide meaningful PD activities for their staff both after school and during dedicated professional learning time. School-based professional learning communities and leaders can use the CTE TAC Facilitation Guides as starting points for engaging PD. The guides provide an outline and links to resources for short peer-led professional development.

Several of these guides are organized as FOCUS Segments, which is a type of PD created by Successful Practices Network (SPN). FOCUS is an acronym of the five elements of well planned, executed, and supported professional learning experiences.

  • Foundation – presents information about which SPN resources will be shared with the group as part of the activity.
  • Overview – provides a clear learning objective for the session.
  • Connect - creates a common experience for all group members around a SPN resource.
  • Unpack – describes the learning activity educators will use to expand their knowledge base around the topic.
  • Strategize – helps participants reflect on material learned and design a plan for implementation.

FOCUS Segments are intended to assist a designated facilitator in leading educators through 60-90 minute collaborative professional development activities. FOCUS Segments are written for groups of educators, as described in the “Unpack” section. These groups may be organized in a variety of ways: by content areas, grade levels, or experience, , for example, or deliberately mixed. Some FOCUS Segments are labeled “For K-12 Educators” when they target foundational teaching and learning topics. Some are targeted for the specific grade levels noted at the top of the page.

For each FOCUS Segment, a facilitator should be designated to download the SPN resources, print handouts, and gather other needed materials. Additionally, the facilitator should be prepared to lead the discussion and activities during the session.

Please share your feedback via the SPN website and look for new FOCUS Segments regularly.


Engagement for Success 

Rigor and relevance are the foundation of many resources on the CTE TAC website. Once educators have this understanding of high level learning and engaged students, they begin to see teaching and learning differently. However, recognizing the opportunity for relevant instruction doesn't always translate into motivated learning. During this FOCUS Segment, educators will investigate learner engagement and how to increase active engagement during classroom instruction.

Making the Adjustment to Quad D Instructional Strategies 

Prior knowledge of the Rigor/Relevance Framework® is essential to understanding the importance of thoughtful, high quality assessments that require students to demonstrate mastery in real-world unpredictable situations. Teachers often wonder, “How do I get my instruction to match my assessment goals? Where do I begin?” Through this one-hour FOCUS Segment, educators will gain a deeper understanding of how to move instruction from Quadrant A to Quadrant D.

Using the Learning Criteria to Enhance Student Success 

It is important that instruction and assessment consider all aspects of a student’s growth and development. The Learning Criteria, a tool developed by the Successful Practices Network, can be used for school improvement, planning, assessment and instruction, and improving student engagement. In this FOCUS Segment, teachers will analyze the four dimensions of the Learning Criteria — Foundation Learning, Stretch Learning, Student Engagement, Personal Skill Development — in the context of their classroom instruction and overall school success.