Professional Development Overview


Professional development is not just something that is important for teachers. It is important for all those involved in education from the support staff right up to the administrators. Professional development that includes participants from support, teaching and administration at the same time can help to bridge the divisions between groups. When differing groups work together, there is a greater chance for understanding each others work and also for forging bonds between the groups to work towards a common purpose. Developing a culture of continuous learning and modeling the use of personal learning networks will be key to engaging students and the community. Below we focus on professional development for teachers; on the page following, we talk about professional development for administrators.

Professional Development for Teachers


Quality teachers can be one of the greatest determinants of student achievement. Teacher’s education, ability, and experience account for more variation in student achievement than all other factors. Studies have found that 40 to 90 percent of the difference in student test scores can be attributed to teacher quality (Darling-Hammond and Ball, Teaching for High Standards: What Policymakers Need to Know and Be Able to Do). What’s more, teachers are under more pressure than ever to perform, help students produce high test scores, and demonstrate effectiveness in the classroom. Knowing the subject matter, understanding how students learn, and practicing effective teaching methods translate into greater student achievement. Therefore, it is vitally important that teachers be well prepared when they begin teaching and that they continue to improve their knowledge and skills throughout their careers.


spacerwiki280.gifNCLB requires all students to meet specific standards. As a result, teachers, districts and schools are being held accountable for student’s performance. If all students are to have a chance at success, then they must have teachers who know how to help them meet these standards. Unfortunately, many teachers are not properly trained, skilled or equipped to confront some of the challenges that are presented in the 21st century classroom. Teachers are often given new technologies or new initiatives but never given the time or resources to utilize and implement them into their classrooms. Accountability measures are requiring more of teachers. Teachers, therefore, need more support to meet the demands of the new system and they need tools to meet higher expectations. It is vital for all 21st century teachers to receive proper and quality professional development.


Additionally, NCLB is asking for a higher percentage of teachers to receive quality professional development.The law encourages partnerships between districts and schools of education and defines high quality professional development programs as those that are “sustained, intensive, and classroom-focused…and are not one-day or short-term workshops or conferences” (Elementary and Secondary Education Act). While NCLB says these characteristics are required “in order to have a positive and lasting impact on classroom instruction and the teacher’s performance in the classroom” (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) information on how to make that happen is hard to find.
Agenda Setting for Professional Development Time
Agenda Setting for Professional Development Time



Yet, despite the difficulty of finding specific methods for professional development; There are several resources that can help districts, schools and educators take the correct steps toward better and more effective professional development.




Characteristics of Quality Professional Development

  • Continuous learning, not a one-time seminar
  • Focused on improving classroom practice and increasing student learning
  • Embedded in the daily work of teaching, not relegated to special occasions or separated from the learning needs of students
  • Centered on crucial teaching and learning activities—planning lessons, evaluating student work, and developing curriculum
  • Cultivated in a culture of collegiality that involves sharing knowledge and experience on the same student improvement objectives
  • Supported by modeling and coaching that teaches problem solving techniques
  • Based on investigation of practice through case study, analysis, and professional discourse




Professional Development Goals and Plan
Professional Development Goals and Plan
Professional Development Roles


Federal Government
  • Provides guidelines for boosting teacher quality
  • Holds states accountable
States
  • Adopt standards
  • Require district, school, and teacher plans
  • Allocate resources
  • Approve professional development providers
  • Require evaluations
  • Provide statewide training programs and academies
  • Develop state plan
Districts/Schools
  • Adopt standards
  • Develop a district plan
  • Train principals and teacher leaders
  • Evaluate professional development
  • Provide support for teachers
  • Deliver professional development
  • Manage federal and state requirements
Teachers
  • Access online information and activities
  • Attend conferences
  • Participate in curriculum planning
  • Work collaboratively
  • Pursue National Board Certification






Statistical Snapshots of Current Trends and Practices in Professional Development

Types of Professional Development

SOURCE: EPE Research Center analysis of U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Schools and Staffing Survey, Public Teacher Questionnaire, 2003-04.
SOURCE: EPE Research Center analysis of U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Schools and Staffing Survey, Public Teacher Questionnaire, 2003-04.





FOCUS: Subject-Area Content

Eighty-three percent of teachers reported that they participated in professional development focusing on the content in their subject area in the past 12 months.









SOURCE: EPE Research Center analysis of U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Schools and Staffing Survey, Public Teacher Questionnaire, 2003-04.
SOURCE: EPE Research Center analysis of U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Schools and Staffing Survey, Public Teacher Questionnaire, 2003-04.






FOCUS: Student Discipline & Management
Forty-three percent of teachers said they participated in professional development focusing on student discipline and classroom management in the past 12 months.
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SOURCE: EPE Research Center analysis of U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Schools and Staffing Survey, Public Teacher Questionnaire, 2003-04
SOURCE: EPE Research Center analysis of U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Schools and Staffing Survey, Public Teacher Questionnaire, 2003-04







FOCUS: Instructional Technology

Sixty-four percent of teachers reported that they had participated in professional development activities focusing on the use of computers for instruction in the past 12 months.









Modes of Professional Development Delivery


SOURCE: EPE Research Center analysis of U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Schools and Staffing Survey, Public Teacher Questionnaire, 2003-04.
SOURCE: EPE Research Center analysis of U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Schools and Staffing Survey, Public Teacher Questionnaire, 2003-04.

New Media
While almost all schools offer professional development in traditional, face-to-face setttings, the use of electronic media to deliver training rose dramatically from 2005 to 2006






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SOURCE: EPE Research Center analysis of U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Schools and Staffing Survey, Public Teacher Questionnaire, 2003-04.
SOURCE: EPE Research Center analysis of U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Schools and Staffing Survey, Public Teacher Questionnaire, 2003-04.














Working Together
Many teachers also reported acquiring professional development through collaborative and reflective activities outside traditional training settings.




















Professional Development Resources






Next up, see Professional Development for Administrators