Professional Development Isnít a Sprint, Itís a Marathon

Written by the Kurzweil Blog Team

            A recent study from TNTP revealed that while massive investments are spent on professional development most teachers donít improveó2 out of 10 actually got worse over 2-3 years. Should we close the door on professional development if it is seemingly a waste of time and money? No. The TNTP explains, ďItís time for a new conversation about teacher improvementóone that asks fundamentally different questions about what great teaching means and how to achieve it.Ē

What does ďgreat teachingĒ mean to you? Is it is something that is unique to the individual educator, or can it be measured across the school and/or districtóand how? Where should you start?

Our customer success team works with a team of trainers who visit hundreds of schools to deliver professional development of all kids. What better place to begin your journey to effective professional development than learning from the experiences of other educators.

The Experts Were Asked: How can I ensure PD is effective?

Eric Nentrup, eLearning Coach, Speaker, Writer, Google Educator

Administrators have a tough job, earmarked by monumentally difficult lists of things to check off as they go about their school year. PD shouldnít be one of those. In fact, PD should be incredibly easy and enjoyable for all parties involved. The reason it isnít is that professional development has become a cudgel for reinforcing that teachers arenít good enough yet, and that the current organizational leadership model has communicated to administrators that itís their job to look for weaknesses in classroom observations, then lecture on ways to possibly ameliorate those deficiencies. Instead, canít we shift to a model where observations by administrators are truly comprehensive, that they lead to asynchronous PD showcasing key strengths within the learning community, and provide organic networking opportunities for teachers to learn from their peers how to introduce effective strategies and tactics in their own classrooms?

This not only raises the stature of the administratorís position in a learning community, but it also frees up valuable time for these building leaders to work more closely with the most challenging situations under their purview.

Mary Hinson, International trainer and consultant, Owner of Equal Access, Kurzweil Education Trainer

  • Teachers/ staff have to see how this is going to benefit them
  • Keep it simple-donít overwhelm. Show the basics and make it hands-on. Have teachers develop products they can use.
  • Donít lecture. Engage staff. You can even do activities in small groups.
  • Break it up. Vary methods of engagement: Show a short film clip; have a hands on activity; have a small group activity.

Karen Narvol, Assistive Technology Consultant, Kurzweil Education Trainer

Administrators should provide opportunities for follow-up and ongoing support to ensure that professional development is effective for teachers. This follow-up can include encouraging teachers to interact with their colleagues by participating in staff meetings where the professional development topic is discussed and teachers receive feedback. It is also important that teachers have opportunities to work with instructional coaches and mentor teachers, engage in online collaboration, read blogs and topic specific guides, view videos on the professional development subject, and reflect on their own teaching practices. Effective professional development follow-up is the key to improving teaching practices and student learning.

Suzanne Feit, National Consultant, Kurzweil Education Trainer

One-time training sessions are not an effective model. Put a plan in place to ensure adequate, on-going staff development is available. Encouraging teachers and staff to collaborate and network, and establish milestones to assure that acquired technologies or new strategies are being used effectively and efficiently.

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