Teacher professional development (PD) is arguably the most important investment a school can make in improving everything from test scores to student engagement to combating bullying or supporting at-risk populations. Ironically, it’s also one of the most difficult areas to measure return on investment (ROI) because of how famously slow the education sector changes. Sometimes it can feel like making change is the equivalent of maneuvering a battleship!

Challenges with professional development

Professional Development is an opportunity for teachers to continuously learn and develop as educators in both informal and formal ways. Often school leaders lead and create formalized PD sessions, hands-on workshops, presentations, for teachers to learn from. While that is a good start, teachers also need to routinely set their own informal and ongoing PD agendas. Teachers need the ability to share resources, work on ideas with colleagues, and pursue their own personalized development path. This is often overlooked at the admin level.

Thus, many teachers struggle with PD as it can be sporadic and unrelated to their growth, causing poor engagement. Administrators lament the slow speed of change and teachers do not effectively apply their learnings for poor results. This overall impacts the teacher’s and schools performance and we see parallels in the classroom.

Opportunities with professional development

Instead of focusing on the challenges with PD, which admins already know a lot about. It’s better to focus on the opportunity that PD provides teachers to grow.

So, let’s take a look at current practices in how professional development is run and how it stacks up to best practice in teaching.

chalk professional development

If your PD looks nothing like the left-hand column above, I am excited for you and your staff! For the rest of us, we need to look at why proper professional growth plans seem so far fetched.

Let’s Consider:

  • To what degree is PD based on the interests and needs of staff members?
  • How closely does pacing and time allotment for actives reflect best practice around engagement and focus?
  • Are teachers challenged to grow as individual learners during professional development or is attendance enough?
  • What kinds of follow-up are done after professional development sessions to support the development of new skills?
  • Is there an informal and formal process for professional development set up within our school?
  • Are there opportunities for teachers to collaborate with each other and coach one another if needed?
  • Can teachers chose different types of professional development sessions and are there various opportunities to meet them in their journey?

Your most valuable assets are the professional skills and adaptability of your teachers. An agile school, where teachers embrace and excel with training, is ready for any challenge and demand next year holds. You have an amazing faculty with a diverse array of skills and experience. When it comes to professional development, don’t shy away from setting a good example of best practice!

For more consultation on your PD process, reach out to us here at Chalk. We help schools manage their process through our platform and help educators get aligned in their school. Book a demo today! 

Learn more about professional development with our article on How to Get Started: Meaningful Professional Development for Educators. Did you know professional development is also one of the ways you can keep teachers motivated? Read 10 Tips for Keeping Your Teachers Motivated for more details.

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