The needs of your classroom will always be changing and developing, so you need to do everything in your power to adapt and change along with them. With that in mind, your school or district will more than likely have developed some sort of professional development program for its educators. While this is a phenomenal step, there are always things that can be done to better these programs and move their objectives further. Whether you’re a teacher, an administrator, or a district official, you may benefit from checking out these tips for supporting professional development of educators:
Never Assume That One Size Fits All
As EdSurge has pointed out, it’s detrimental to assume that one method or approach to professional development will somehow benefit all of the teachers in your school or district. On the contrary, teachers need instruction and education tailored to their specific grade levels and subject matter. Consider this: each teacher uses a range of different creative curriculum and instructional strategies to best educate their students. This same strategy should be applied to professional development. Consider hosting different continuing education sessions for teachers of similar grade levels and subject matter. You may find that more is accomplished due to an increased potential for collaboration. Teachers will also benefit from being able to report on the successes and failures of implementing classroom strategies learned in these sessions.
Consider the Use of Social Media
Professional development of teachers will be a largely face-to-face process. At the end of the day, there is simply no replacement for interaction between educators and academic professionals, subject matter experts, and other resources. Still, this doesn’t mean that social media can’t be a valuable tool for use in the process. Bar Zie, an English teacher and author in Norway, recently tweeted an article from Pearson advocating the use of social media in professional development of educators.
Tweeting for Teachers: How can social media support teacher professional development? http://t.co/WzSSpXUNcW
— bar zie (@bar_zie) February 19, 2015
One of the most valuable points made by Pearson’s research is that actively using social media will allow for educators to interact with professionals from other fields and industries. This broadened range of knowledge should provide outside examples of how to better their practices in the classroom.
Encourage Regularity and Understanding
Consistency is perhaps more important than any other single aspect of professional development as it pertains to educators. In order to have a truly successful development program, it’s critical that regular, consistent learning experiences and activities are established for all participants. Many schools choose to integrate this practice by building development days into the academic calendar, allowing teachers to interact during each semester. In addition to this, it will be incredibly helpful if all parties involved develop a common understanding of the group’s goals for educating teachers near the beginning of the year. In addition to steering conversation and activities over the course of the year, it will also make measuring progress far more tangible.