Professional development for teachers is so crucial to grow and in turn, for our students to thrive. Let’s work together to provide the best PD we can for the best future we can see!
Professional Development looks like:
*Things people can use tomorrow in their classrooms/schools
* Woven into the fabric of your school vision and improvement plan.
* Continuous and long-term. Think Fidelity Investments “stay on the line”
* Research-based and data-driven.
* Allows for growth.
Formats that have worked for PD for me:
- Book-clubs with field trips.
- Small-group learning/individual plans – providing options.
- School-wide focused on school improvement plan.
- Various initiatives? Use various groups within staff meeting time.
- Creating a virtual gallery/blog so that everyone can stay connected.
- Guest speakers….be careful with this one.
- Getting away from the building – Green school visit, arts integration gallery visits, museum visits, etc.
What teachers want you to know about their PD days, but will never tell you:
- Value my time. If this isn’t going to help me grow, or I can’t use it tomorrow, don’t bother. I have other things to do.
- Provide connection – I don’t want a smorgasboard of PD thrown at me every year, or worse, throughout each year.
- I like being able to work with my colleagues – can you find me some time for that?
- I want to learn – but I want it to apply to what I’m currently doing.
- Give me some time to synthesize and use what I’m learning.
What administrators want you to know about PD days, but will never tell you:
- Come with an open mind and a willing spirit. Try. Please just try what we’re giving you.
- We want to give you the resources and tool that you need/request. If this has been requested by you, then please participate and provide quality feedback.
- Sometimes, we have to provide PD that the board of ed requires. That’s not our fault – we have supervisors too.
- We’re on the same team – to help teachers grow so that our students succeed.
What parents want you to know about your PD days, but will never tell you:
- We don’t really understand why you can’t get this training over the summer.
- If we must spend money for training, we want to see it being used with our kids.
- We want to understand what the purpose of your training is – include us in what you’re learning so that we can support it at home.
- We’re glad that you’re learning new techniques, but please make sure they are going to help our kids.
- Assessment needs to happen during, right after and an extended time after PD has been presented.
- Quick exit surveys are useful. Online surveys are also helpful at the end of a PD day.
- Check-in’s during PD gives a good sense of its relativity to current practice and if people are engaged and learning.
- Set up clear, measurable goals for using the PD once the session is over. What will teachers do with this in 1 week, 1 month, 1 quarter, 1 year?
- Send out periodic surveys or peer reviews throughout the established time to find out if the PD is being used, how effective it is, if it should be pursued further, etc.
Creating PD committees/teams:
- Consider creating a PD committee or team that can look over the schools’ goals and brainstorm, set up and evaluate PD throughout the school year.
- ASK teachers what they need: sit down with them and take down all of their ideas. A good tool: use wordle. Type in all the words, phrases that you heard from your teachers on what PD focus they would like and wordle will take all the words and create a picture with them. The words that happen the most frequently will become larger in the picture, making it very clear where the majority of your staff need/desire PD.
- Creating buy-in. By using a team of members from your staff, you’re creating buy-in to create, support and use the PD that is provided, making it an integral piece of your school improvement plan and vision.
Susan Riley is the founder and President of EducationCloset.com. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and Arts and the Common Core.
Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter.