Monday, May 21, 2018

Aspects of Effective Teacher Professional Development

A CPRE Policy Brief Scaling Up Instructional Improvement Through Teacher Professional Development: Insights From the Local Systemic Change Initiative highlights several key insights into what it takes for teacher PD to be effective. Specifically, administrators and PD developers need to understand ... 
... the importance of content-based PD, aligned with curriculum and assessment, focused on student learning, sustained over time, with collaboration among teachers, and administrative support.
Let's dig into some details:

Content-based, curriculum-aligned: As adult learners, every teacher needs to see how the PD will connect directly to their job. Don't make teachers figure out how the PD helps them be better teachers of their specific courses.

Assessment-aligned, focused on student learning: I group these because PD should focus on what students DO. Teachers cover content, but that doesn't always mean that students can do what you want them to do. 

Sustained over time: PD shouldn't be delivered for two days once a year. It needs to be sustained throughout the year. This also ties to curriculum alignment. If fractions is a second semester topic, then provide PD that supports teachers as they are preparing to teach fractions -- not 6 months ahead of time.

With teacher collaboration: Teaching can be a solitary activity, and many teachers are the only people in their school teaching a particular course or grade. Still, all teachers benefit from having a community with whom they can share questions, strategies, struggles, and successes.

Technology can help, especially with the last two items. Synchronous and asynchronous online instruction can help PD happen through the school year without disrupting schedules, and tools such as Twitter and discussion forums can help teachers benefit from rich communities of practice.

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