5 Tips for Teacher Professional Development

Two coworkers organizing sticky notes in midair

Professional development programs can be motivating and inspiring. Teachers who experience professional development understand that is relevant can immediately apply teacher training to their classroom experiences will think of it positively. However, teachers who have sat through ineffective professional development programs may feel that they waste time.

Good administrators know that educators want quality professional learning that will help them to improve their teaching and their students’ learning. Principals and other school leaders who are looking to improve professional learning opportunities for their teachers should seek content-focused programs that incorporate active learning, use adult learning theory and model effective practice. Here are some ways to improve PD opportunities for teachers.

1. Model Then Practice

Teachers want to see what strategies look like in practice and need time to apply it. This often mimics the way they will work with their students once they get back to the classroom. The modeling portion of a PD session should focus on every section of a lesson. The bulk of PD time should be spent helping teachers practice what they learn.

2. Use Relevant Examples

Teachers want to see real examples of student work to see that what they are learning helps build student achievement. Presenters who bring videos of teachers practicing lessons and students working on the task engage teachers immediately. When they can see how the lesson unfolds in real time, teachers can begin to see how they can implement it. Teachers should be given time to reflect on what they have seen and to include it in their curriculum.

3. Gamify the Teacher Experience

Modeling and demonstration are not the only practices that help teachers learn new concepts. Add fun and creative learning experiences such a scavenger hunts, role-playing and hands-on creation of materials in order to boost teacher engagement. Let teachers earn badges for work they complete during a professional development experience. This also helps teachers see how they could use this type of structure to improve their own teaching skills.

4. Normalize the feedback process

Many teachers feel insecure and do not seek out constructive feedback when administrators come in for a walkthrough. Sometimes administrators leave simple notes or fill out the district-mandated forms rating a teacher’s performance, but these walkthroughs rarely involve face-to-face discussions about how the administrator can support their growth. A great administrator will make an effort to both give feedback to support their teachers’ growth and consistently ask for feedback themselves.

5. Personalize Professional Development

What makes PD seem like a time-waster for many teachers is that the content is not relevant to them. Personalized PD opportunities can take many forms. Teachers can make their own PD plan that includes attending conferences that they are most interested in and reading books that help them in the areas that they wish to grow in. Additionally, PD can be differentiated so that teachers follow different tracks or attend different sessions rather than sitting together for an entire day as a staff all listening to the same information.

If you are interested in leading teachers and supporting their professional development, consider enrolling in the Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in K-12 Leadership degree at Grand Canyon University. The College of Doctoral Studies has wide range of resources to help you thrive in your doctoral journey. To learn more, visit our website or click on the Request More Information button on this page.

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