While learning may sit at the top of your district’s needs hierarchy, the health and safety of the school community serve as its foundation. In addition to increasing teacher effectiveness and decreasing teacher turnover, professional development (PD) provides the only sure way to implement appropriate school-wide safety strategies and processes. Not doing so can prove harmful – and even deadly. How can you ensure that your safety PD program addresses your teachers’ needs and prepares them to handle safety issues confidently? Use these best practices to develop effective safety PD. 1. Include actionable training Incorporate your safety PD in the form of significant, actionable training throughout the entire school year. Consistent, ongoing opportunities to develop skills and attitudes require time to reflect and integrate into everyday practice. 2. Incorporate a three-phase training program Plan all phases of effective training based on the following components: planning, implementation, and evaluation. The evaluation component ensures that training will change over time as you receive and utilize feedback. Training will also vary based on constitutional, societal, and environmental factors. 3. [...]
Summer is a time when teachers have more time to plan their courses for the upcoming school year. With curriculum standards constantly changing and evolving, this is no easy task. Further, summertime can also be a time during which teachers undertake professional development for their own self-edification. In this spirit of planning and learning, curriculum directors can help teachers make the most of their summertime planning by suggesting the following activities: 1. Involve teachers in creating new action plans. Summer can be the best time to develop longer-term teaching and learning goals. If you’re interested in creating far-reaching learning plans, summer may be your only opportunity to make those happen. For example, some curriculum specialists can engage teachers and staff to create action plans that span multiple grade levels. You could meet with teachers virtually to simplify their ability to participate. 2. Ask teachers what resources they need for the upcoming school year. Teachers may be so overburdened during the school year that they don’t have time to consider the resources they need to teach more [...]
Navigating the waters of a professional development conference can be, to say the least, overwhelming. With so many sessions to choose from, how do you know you’re getting everything you can out of your conference experience? Fear not: below are a few tips to help guide you through those choppy waters and provide you with a smooth-sailing conference experience. Before the Conference Try Some Uncharted Waters Steer yourself toward at least one session about a topic that might be unfamiliar yet intriguing. Such sessions can lead you in a direction you didn’t even know you were interested in heading. They can also be great opportunities to foster new connections and gain ideas from experts who have navigated those waters before you. Set a Goal for Yourself Try not to go into the conference looking to change the way you’ve been doing everything. That mentality leads to frustration and a feeling of being overwhelmed. Instead, focus on one key area you’d like to improve, such as vocabulary instruction or integrating technology into lessons. Use that focus to [...]
Teachers aim to make instruction more learner centered, so why aren’t we doing the same for educators when planning professional development? If you want to provide your teachers with the most effective professional development, creating a customized PD program is the best option. Personalized professional development lets teachers focus on their individual students and classrooms as new challenges arise and new resources become available. Some notable benefits include: ● Specialized training matches the level of individualization offered in other fields. ● Individualized surveys and needs assessments can provide more specific information on a case-by-case basis and meet immediate needs. ● Teacher can focus on building on their own strengths and weaknesses. The benefits of personalized professional development are clear. But how can you implement a customized program in your district? Examples of Customized PD Individual Learning Plans Montpelier School District lets teachers create Individual Professional Development Plans (IPDPs) that help them meet unique personal and district-wide development goals that follow the SMART model: ● Specific ● Measurable ● Attainable ● Relevant ● Time-bound Gamification Games with [...]
The most effective Teacher Professional Development (TPD) programs treat teachers as lifelong learners who want to integrate new curricular methods, content, and strategies into their classrooms. The Learning Policy Institute culled findings from 35 reports to describe the most effective TPD. Effective TPD is: ● Content focused ● Collaborative ● Sustained ● Coaching based ● Ongoing How can you include these elements into your TPD planning? Use the following steps. 1. Incorporate real-world modeling situations. The classroom shouldn’t be the first place teachers use new strategies. Instead, TPD should offer teacher opportunities to model classroom approaches to other attendees. Some examples might include: ● Interactive lectures ● Field or lab experiences ● Inquiry-oriented activities 2. Build in time to let teachers implement lesson plans and receive feedback. The best TPD gives teachers opportunities to try out their newly constructed lesson plans within weeks. Afterward, scaffold in time for feedback on other teachers’ new lessons and rubrics. This peer-to-peer collaboration can also last long after the TPD if teachers are given opportunity and means to share [...]
Being a teacher is a continuous process of engaging with new techniques, evaluating new tools, and re-examining current practice.