3 Ways to Provide Professional Development That Teachers Will Love
October 6, 2018
Virtually all teachers participate in professional development. Unfortunately, lots of them don’t enjoy PD, don’t find it relevant, and don’t change their teaching because of it. The good news is that there are three ways to provide PD that teachers love, value, and find beneficial. Here’s what the experts, including teachers, suggest:
First: Provide PD that is hands-on, with active participation required.
We have evidence that teachers are more highly motivated when they are actively engaged in learning. Teachers also want some control over their own professional development and would like to take responsibility for it. (Darling-Hammond & Richardson, 2009; Matherson & Windle, 2017). There are several ways to ensure that professional development meets these criteria. Districts and leaders can offer PD in a variety of formats, including online options, peer interactions, and collaborative approaches used in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). As Louis and Marks (1998) suggested, PLCs that are respected and valued by teachers have a positive impact on student achievement and on teaching practice.
Districts can also give teachers choices. This can be accomplished by providing a “menu” approach to professional development options. While some PD may be required, allowing teachers to choose among available online learning topics as well as relevant conferences, podcasts, or webcasts demonstrates trust in teachers who are committed to professional learning.
Second: Make sure that PD opportunities are sustained and supported.
The Northwest Comprehensive Center of Education Northwest report cited below identified several factors that influence teacher retention. Teachers consistently report that they want time to develop their own instructional strategies and that this should occur in supportive relationships, both with other teachers and with leaders.
When PD is presented in a “one shot” format, teachers do not have opportunities to develop, practice, and maintain new skills. Just as we view student learning as a steady process of improvement over time, teacher growth should be viewed in the same way. Learning new skills often requires lots of practice and it is important to commit time and resources to teachers’ professional learning for real improvement.
Third: Make the PD Fit the Content; Not the Other Way Around.
Much of the PD that teachers receive should be focused on content and the pedagogy of how to teach it. In order for that to happen, teachers must learn strategies, skills, and techniques that address individual needs of students and help teachers differentiate their instruction to meet all students’ needs (Matherson & Windle, 2017). Teachers want all of their students to succeed.
Teachers need to be able to apply what they learn, get feedback and guidance, and keep learning. Both relationship-based PD like observation/coaching and online learning like micro-credentials can support this type of learning. Because both of these types of PD are competency-based, teachers demonstrate what they have learned and should benefit from a process of continual improvement.
PD Anywhere is committed to providing opportunities for professional development that are flexible and personalized to meet teachers’ needs. Teachers have the freedom to work at their own pace and demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways. Contact us for more information. https://pdanywhere.com/
Resources for This Post:
Darling-Hammond, L. & Richardson, N. (2009) Teacher learning: What matters? Professional Leadership, 66 (5), 62-77. Retrieved online: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb09/vol66/num05/Teacher-Learning@-What-Matters%C2%A2.aspx
Krasnoff, B. (2015). What the research says about class size, professional development, and recruitment, induction, and retention of highly qualified teachers. Northwest Comprehensive Center of Education Northwest. Retrieved online: https://www.schoolturnaroundsupport.org/sites/default/files/resources/compendium-of-evidence-on-titleIIA-strategies.pdf
Louis, K.S. & Marks, H.M. (1998). Does professional learning community affect the classroom teachers’ work and student experience in restructure schools? American Journal of Education, 106 (4), 532-537. Retrieved online: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED412634
Matherson, L. & Windle, T.M. (2017). What do teachers want from their professional development? Four Emerging Themes. Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, 83 (3), 28-32. Retrieved online: http://eds.a.ebscohost.com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=0&sid=49b19fc6-1e40-4848-aeea-b193a9863be8%40sessionmgr4009