Supercharge Your Professional Learning

Professional learning initiatives in schools come and go, and the constant cycling through programs can resemble fad diets—hype and hope followed by crash and burnout.

In this timely book, longtime professional learning providers Kasia M. Derbiszewska and T. Nicole Tucker-Smith share concrete strategies that will help you design professional development sessions that are compelling, convincing, and sustainable using the framework of Universal Design for Learning.

Learn to recognize and reduce common barriers to effective PD. In each chapter, the authors clearly address the Purpose, Preparation, Implementation, and Benefits to Learning for each aspect of professional learning, as well as UDL Tidbits that help ensure the health and longevity of the initiative.

Get ready to consider the whole adult learner and apply practical strategies for cultivating and maintaining healthy, vibrant professional development that has a track record of success.

Supercharge Your Professional Learning Now

What's Inside?

Chapter 1: Eliminate Toxins: Removing Resistance to Change

  • Have your PD initiatives faced resistance in the past?
  • Are you worried about creating “buy in” rather than “believe in”?
  • Does your PD proactively address participants’ concerns and build bridges to existing expectations for teaching and learning?

Professional learning initiatives are often stymied by resistance to change. Proactive strategies can remove toxins like uncertainty, negativity, insecurity, apathy, and worry. These techniques minimize threats and optimize motivation so that educators feel empowered to build on their strengths and achieve higher goals for student learning.

Chapter 2 Balance Your Diet: Digesting Professional Learning Content

  • Do your PD sessions rely too heavily on lecture?
  • Do PD participants have opportunities to interact, make connections to new content, see examples of target practices, apply new learning, and reflect on professional growth?

Effective professional learning provides a variety of ways for participants to activate background knowledge, consume content, see relevant examples, and apply new strategies. This chapter introduces the CLEAR mnemonic to help PD leaders plan robust, balanced professional learning experiences that set the foundation for improving instructional practice.

Chapter 3 Choose Superfoods: Selecting High-Impact Strategies

  • Do participants seem bored or disengaged?
  • Do you transmit information through data, facts and lecture, or do you create an emotional connection with participants?

Too many PD presentations bore participants into a mind-numbing stupor. This chapter leverages a superfood analogy to explore high-impact strategies that boost participant energy and endurance. Elevate your session with super-strategies such as visuals, metaphors, and storytelling.

Chapter 4 Remember to Stretch: Reflection Expands Possibilities

  • Do you rush through content and omit reflection?
  • Do participants have opportunities to consolidate what they know? To learn from one another?

Opportunities for reflection are often bypassed because presenters feel pressed for time. The need to cover more content takes precedence over reflecting, but rarely does this style of presentation result in change of practice. Embedding reflection strategies can help you take a pulse of the room, solidify content knowledge, recognize personal growth, and help participants learn from one another.

Chapter 5 Use It or Lose It: Building Habits to Sustain Professional Growth

  • How often do participants implement new ideas learned during PD?
  • How are educators supported in integrating new practices into existing realities and expectations?

Changing instructional practice to impact student outcomes requires building new habits and support structures. By incorporating the strategies shared in this chapter, PD leaders offer choice to meet varying adult learners’ needs, provide job-embedded routines, and guide participants in examining results and self-assessing their professional growth.

Chapter 6 Be Mindful: Designing with Precision and Intent

  • Do you adjust your presentation based on the range of variability of your participants?
  • Do you provide participants with opportunities to “chew” on what they have learned and then listen to gauge comprehension?

Crafting high-quality learning experiences that can be replicated hinges on a provider’s ability to support the full range of variability from each of the participants. Without mindfully attending to participants and their needs (cognitive load, processing time, authentic learning experiences, etc.), PD sessions can easily fall prey to generic stock presentations instead of genuine and personalized learning experiences. This chapter pulls together the core ideas from this book and discusses mindful planning that helps internalize long-lasting professional growth and ensure that your next PD session won’t be the next educational fad.

About the Author

Kasia Derbiszewska (pronounced Kah-shah Der-bih-sheh-ska) is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer for Learning Key, LLC. Kasia specializes in the field of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and has a passion for designing inclusive and supportive environments that help all learners excel. Kasia designs and delivers keynote speeches, workshops, and offers one-on-one consulting support to school districts, universities and other organizations both nationally and internationally. Kasia is a former high school English teacher and a former project manager at Harvard University’s Causal Cognition in a Complex World Laboratory. Kasia earned her Ed.M. in Mind, Brain, and Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Read more about the Author


Video Interviews


"...this book is the ultimate menu to support a transition to “supercharged PD”. With concrete, evidence-based “a la carte” options that would improve the design of professional learning immediately, the text also provides a vision for why we must transform adult learning environments if we want to increase the outcomes of all learners. If you are a PD provider, you need this in your toolbox."

Katie Novak, Ed.D.
Author of UDL Now! Universally Designed Leadership, and Innovate Inside the Box

"With this book, you will be empowered to transform your school’s professional development so that it engages educators in meaningful, productive learning opportunities. Explore dozens of resources and relatable analogies to ensure your professional development supports best practices for adult learning. This book models UDL in its design and every page is filled with examples that have a clear purpose and that benefit learning. It will transform your professional development!"

Allison Posey, Author and UDL Specialist

"Supercharge Your Professional Learning is crafted around an experience most of us at least have considered at one time or another, that of getting into better physical shape and paying attention to what we eat. Right out of the gate the metaphor itself is as fun as the strategies that follow. The framework is methodical, accessible, sensible and enjoyable. Using that getting into shape metaphor, we learn how to reduce our intake of toxins in showing participants why learning is important, we balance our diets by varying the way the new content is consumed, and we eat a few superfoods along the way by telling stories that illustrate important points. We then stretch ourselves through reflection, we create an exercise plan so we’ll use the new learning and not lose it, and we top it all off being mindful about portions, groupings and overall design."

Barb Schalliol, Former Assistant Principal

"This book is so user friendly! The PD Strategy summary chart outlines each strategy, the purpose of using it, the connections to UDL in one location. If you have a limited amount of time to plan or find yourself struggling with developing meaningful learning opportunities for teachers, simply thumb through the book and land on a strategy to see the purpose, how to prepare, steps for implementation, and the benefit to adult learners. The concluding checklist is a powerful tool to ensure your professional development message will stick.

I highly recommend this book for individuals who design professional development for adults, administrators overseeing professional development, and teachers who want to take charge of their professional development and demand quality sessions from presenters."

Lisa Mohr, Review

Dr. Amy Pleet-Odle

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