Just as a teacher has to create conditions that support and encourage student success, school districts have to support teachers’ professional development.
Today, professional development runs the gamut from one-shot workshops to more intensive job-embedded professional development, which has teachers learn in the day-to-day environment in which they work rather than getting pulled out to attend an outside training.
However, the National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education report, “Teaching the Teachers,” notes that most professional development today is ineffective because it neither changes teaching practices nor improves student learning.
Professional development for teachers can fall short in numerous ways, including:
Too many (and sometimes conflicting) goals and priorities competing for teachers’ time, energy, and attention.Unrealistic expectations of how much time it will take schools and teachers to adopt and implement goals.Professional development training events that are inappropriate in size, scope, or structure to support learning new ideas or skills. Gathering 100 teachers into one room for a training event will never give them the time they need to reflect on the material, ask questions, listen to their peers, or go through activities to enhance their comprehension.Lack of support for teachers’ implementation of new instructional practices. Research shows there’s an implementation gap in teachers’ professional development. They may learn, understand, and agree with a new idea or technique presented in a workshop, but it’s hard for them to implement that idea without ongoing support.Failure to provide teachers with feedback about how implementing new skills impacts student learning.