Teachers have a lot on their plates. School leaders provide educators with effective professional development and ongoing coaching focused on applying tools and practices to meet student needs.
Strategies For Success
Give teachers hands-on learning opportunities, led by coaches and mentors.
Create a sustainable plan that ties to a larger mission.
Offer a variety of flexible learning pathways.
Secure buy-in from stakeholders and establish aligned goals.
- Do educators work together to put what they learned into practice (e.g., through buddies, grade level planning, or small project-based working groups)?Do you have a set of internal educators who can lead PD complemented by external training organizations or consultants? How are they doing and where are the gaps?
- Has your PD program to date made a lasting and sustained impact on your teachers? How do you know?
- Does your PD include both training sessions and other offerings, e.g., buddying, mentorship, shadowing?
- Have you assessed your current PD (both formal/scheduled and informal learning) to determine what is going well and what isn't?
- Have you benchmarked what you have against other schools to explore your PD approach and push your thinking?
- Have you assessed your PD offering against your broader goals?
- Is your PD differentiated for various levels of expertise (novice, intermediate, and expert) where appropriate to make it valuable for the educators?
- Do you gather feedback about PD, and does feedback indicate that the PD is relevant, timely, differentiated, and meeting their needs?
- Does your PD program encourage buy-in throughout your organization? have local educators been involved in creating the plans?
- Do educators have sufficient, blocked time for PD, and are they empowered to participate and lead efforts with motivators like credits, rewards, and recognition?
- How are students involved in staff development?
Featured Professional Development Resources
Build your professional development program
Whether you lead the professional development team or are just considering PD as part of your overall transformation, the steps and tools below can help you create a plan.
Assemble Your PD Team
Before you begin the work of planning your PD program, you need a team to support you: it is rare that a single person will be as effective as a group of you working together.
The team should be assembled from all the key stakeholders, and so the first step is a stakeholder analysis. Note that this analysis will be used in future steps as well, so it's worthing taking the time to do.
Once you understand the stakeholders, you should identify those who should form part of your team. You may also choose to have different subgroups, for example a working group and an advisory group.
Investigate & Understand
Members of your team should understand as much as they can before (and during) planning;
a) Understand the existing situation in the school / district so you are grounded in reality.
b) Understand what research says regarding the topic so you make informed decisions.
c) Understand what other schools and districts are doing so you can be inspired by what is possible.
By dedicating time to this phase your plans will be realistic for your specific situation, and effective due to the proven or tested nature of the actions you take.
You want your Professional Development plan to support your overarching vision. Your goals should therefore be established with this in mind.
Begin by thinking about what success looks like; picture a time a few years from now. What does Professional Development in your district look like? Now turn this into 2-5 outcomes or goals for PD. While these are not set in stone, the assumption at this stage should be that if you meet these goals, then you will be supporting the overall vision in the best way possible.
At this stage the goals should be actionable, achievable and measurable. You should know when you've met your goals and be able to do so.
Identify actions and solutions
At this point you will have a good understanding of where you are now (the current situation), and where you want to be (your intended outcomes.) In order to move between the two you need to do something; make decisions, take actions and start new programs.
These actions may be obvious, in which case you should spend a short period of time brainstorming to make sure you do indeed have the most effective solutions.
Alternatively the required actions may be unclear. In this case, a more structured process - for example design thinking - will allow you to identify the best solutions.
Make a Plan
Now that you have measureable goals and have identified actions to meet those goals, organize this information into a project plan for Professional Development to keep everyone on track. A project plan can help you visualize the entire process from beginning to end, work more effectively, and avoid unnecessary obstacles.
1. Write a project charter
2. Identify your project requirements
3. Break your project into key milestones
4. Brainstorm all tasks and assign deadlines
5. Assign a team member to each task
6. Assess your risks
Launch & Iterate
Equipped with a solid plan for improving Professional Development in your district, your team is ready to accomplish your goals and bring your vision to life! Encourage each team member to frequently reference the project plan and to keep it up to date as they accomplish tasks or run into obstacles. Monitor your progress using the project plan and running effective meetings. Don't forget to stay in touch with your stakeholders and keep them happy along the way!
After your project is complete and your new PD Program is in place, reflect on next steps, lessons learned, and future growth of the program.
Celebrate your success!