7 Characteristics for a Teacher’s Professional Development
Most School Administrators want their Teachers to keep developing professionally and technically according to recent times, which is great. But many times teachers are made to sit through seminars and conferences which do not touch areas that need to be stressed on. As a result, they will be uninterested and the goal is not achieved.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. Teachers want to grow and improve their craft. If we do things well, teachers are likely to come away from their professional development energized and excited.
1. Relevant to Context
Seems like a no-brainer. But this is an overly simple way to look at this. The need is to ask teachers what they want and what they need, in alignment of the school’s mission and vision. Are their short term and stretch goals that they’re working on? Are they beginning teachers or experienced? How do they see themselves in the ecosystem of the school and district? What do they need to know and be able to do better in order to achieve their ideal selves?
2. Planned and Improved Instruction
Teachers should have ample work time to plan and meaningful processes to reflect and refine their instruction. This also means challenging each other and themselves by discussing new approaches. Or perhaps teachers are critiquing each other’s planning and teaching through the lens of a quality rubric. What about significant work time with thought partners from both inside and outside of the school to collaborate and ask questions?
This doesn’t need to mean that Teachers are ‘driving’ or ‘leading’ the work. This relates to the issue of context and in a truly inquiry-based approach teachers are identifying what they need to know and understand in order to reach their goals. Leadership is supporting them with development that is driven by those teacher voices.
4. Hands-on Classroom Strategies
If your professional development is stuck at only delivering basic facts, ideas, and concepts for consumption it’s not going to be a help. Better to ask teachers to apply that learning to their work which can help them make meaning. Ask them to move from consumption to creation and contribution at the start so they can contextualize the thinking and strategies as they may apply in their classroom. Let them walk away with something they can use in the short term but also fits into a wider context of growth.
5. Highly Interactive
This doesn’t mean that your Professional Development lesson should be full of silly games that has teachers to interact with each other. Engaging teachers in active thinking, processing, and dialogue while at their seats can be rewardingly interactive. Mixing that with things that do get them moving like a Gallery Walk or “The Scissors Game” where teachers practice the 4 C’s of Communication, Collaboration, Creativity and Critical Thinking and more outside of the heavy content of the workshop can be great brain breaks to keep the work moving forward.
6. Will sustain over time
Today’s buzzword can be tomorrow’s memory, so leave the cycle of latest things available. Align the development workshop with your school’s mission and vision, because it requires an intentional analysis of long-term goals. It’s also important to recognize that significant shifts in practice take substantial time and work. So while your teachers engaging in something like a project-based learning workshop can be a great start it’s not likely to make the impact you’re seeking without sustained follow up. Teachers need to know that the work they are doing will be relevant down the line.
7. Professionals with Valuable Insights
Recognize your teachers as professionals, who have valuable opinions and thoughts. If administrators want teachers to give the answer they want, they are ultimately going to lose. Not only does this not honor teacher voice, it leaves a sour taste of condescension.
When we engage teachers in peer critique of their units and lessons in our workshops they light up with the joy of collaborating in meaningful ways. Administration doesn’t have to relinquish control to do this.
This article has excerpts from Teach Thought website.