Transforming Professional Development for Teachers

Image by:  David Dominici


I recently was looking for some space in my closet and found a book from my graduate school days.  The book Transformational Leadership & Decision Making in Schools by Brower and Balch fell out of my closet.

After flipping through the some tabbed pages, a few memories emerged.  One of the chapter topics explained how ed. leaders often understand and create effective professional development opportunities for their staff.  Understanding what is considered “effective” is key.  So I ask, what is needed for effective staff development?

Three (non-exhaustive) Ideas for Staff Development:

1.)  Eliminate fear – As discussed in David’s post, teachers shouldn’t feel as though someone will steal or reject their innovative ideas. Competition, although beneficial in some scenarios, may instill in teachers a sense of fear and distrust. Administrators that advocate for their staff members by creating an atmosphere of trust and collaboration often improve student learning over time.  The idea that all of the students in a school are everyone’s responsibility should be prevalent and community building activities indicating that concept should be evident.

2.) Research Based PD – Often, staff development may meet the current needs of the staff, but not necessarily be research based.  Many PD sessions are more “training” focused, rather than “best practice” focused.  This point is explained in more detail in Neil’s post.  Teachers need to be able to understand that the PD sessions, when implemented appropriately will result in an improved organization.

3.) Follow up –  Ask any educator … it’s fulfilling to participate in an effective PD session.  The question that many people have after the session is … Now What? Allowing time for teachers to collaborate and discuss methods to implement ideas will benefit all stakeholders.  Also, it may be important to receive feedback from the audience (teachers) in order to measure the effectiveness of the PD and set goals for planning additional sessions.

Disclaimer (unfortunate but necessary) : The thoughts and opinions expressed in these pages are my own, and not necessarily the opinions of my employers.

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