June 15, 2023
Step 1 of this series was published on May 15, 2023.
Teachers hold the power and potential to radically change students and help them grow into imaginative thinkers and problem-solvers. While the cost of professional development (PD) is warranted, the execution of PD is woefully inadequate and all too often does not shift teaching practice, let alone student outcomes. More importantly, most professional development does not model best practices in teaching or cultivate 21st Century collaboration and problem-solving skills, which are the very skills we say we want to pass on to students.
What if professional development were seamlessly integrated into the day-to-day operation of every school? What if schools collaborated to bring together relevant training? What if professional learning was about not just developing skills but solving challenges and breaking down barriers to teacher and student success? What if the acts of learning and growing as teachers were joyful?
When done well, professional development (PD) can keep people in the profession, help address teacher burnout, and improve the conditions for teaching and learning. The first step to more meaningful professional development is adding the time and structure for the systematic implementation of inspirational PD. The second step is to honor the individuality of staff members and replace district-mandated training with goal-oriented, personalized PD that simultaneously cultivates new skills while elevating the expertise of educators.
Goal Oriented & Personalized
As more and more schools embrace the ‘Portrait of a Graduate’ as a way for students to document growth and proficiency, teachers need a ‘Portrait of a Teacher’ that encourages the same focus on reflection, growth, and proficiency. Rather than professional development as an extra that is completed for license renewal or training tacked on because we have to do something, let’s embed teacher improvement, and therefore PD, into our day-to-day conversations on teaching and learning. Great professional development should be, as Joel Backon, editor of Intrepid, noted in this very publication,
Whether you utilize the Danielson or Marzano models or something else entirely, the art and science of teaching require us to reflect on our practice and detail steps for improvement. This process of reflection is a…