Our own Jean Fleming said “skip the clown nose and get down to business” in a recent article she penned for District Administration – 7 Tips for Creating an Effective PD Program. She was referring to the ‘sit and get’ teacher development that she (and 700 other teachers) experienced when she was a teacher and was told to put on the rubber clown nose as a reminder that their work was graced with humor. Ugh!
As any teacher will tell you, teaching is hard work and certainly no laughing matter. A good sense of humor can go a long way (and who doesn’t like to laugh a little), but as Jean writes, “building teacher capacity” is the most important factor in achieving student growth. In her article, she shared seven ways that schools and administrators can build a teacher professional development program that will do just that. Here they are:
- Align professional development to instructional goals. Armed with a good understanding of student learning goals, Jean says, “Look for synergies between assessment data, curricula, and other instructional resources.” When good information goes into a development program, good results will follow.
- Identify learning outcomes. While a good number of objectives will suit all teachers, there are certain teams that will need different goals and outcomes – intervention specialists, as an example. Depending on the learning outcomes needed for each team or group of teachers, different professional development needs may apply.
- Review existing professional development options. Many school districts likely have access to existing professional development tools. Are they right for your current needs or goals? That’s the key question that needs to be asked and discussed before settling on the professional development program that will bring the success your school is looking for.
- Give the gift of time. Good teacher professional development does not happen in one sitting (with or without a clown nose). It’s necessary to carve out time for teachers to meet regularly, so it’s important to dedicate time and resources accordingly.
- Make professional learning relevant. When designing or selecting your teacher professional development program, be sure to make sure that it can be applied in the classroom right away. It should possess insights and strategies that align with what teachers are doing in their daily classroom work.
- Measure success with metrics. By building evaluation metrics into the professional development program, teachers and staff will be able to measure the effectiveness of the program. In this way, adjustments can be made to ensure the overall success of the program.
- Keep staff engaged. Teachers and administrators need to be engaged throughout the program – during the collaboration time as well as in the classroom.
Teacher professional development needs to be considered an ongoing process. Positioning teachers for success in the classroom starts with a smart, well-built teacher professional development program. Does your school or district have a strategic, ongoing teacher education program that helps enrich their practice and support students in the classroom? It should… and that’s no joke!