Best Practices in Planning Professional Development for Educators

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 ideas in job-specific contexts.

This checklist will help you plan, execute, and evaluate high-quality learning opportunities for your staff.

3. Create a discipline-specific TPD curriculum.

Research suggests that focusing on discipline-specific content and pedagogy in TPD can have significant benefits. For example, a recent study suggests that students achieved greater science understanding from teachers who had completed science standards–focused TPD.

4. Offer opportunities to receive training and support from experts.

While teachers can benefit from peer feedback and collaboration, the best TPD also offers them time for teachers to interface with and learn from experts in a pedagogical model or in their particular pedagogical area.

Most teachers look forward to well-planned TBD so they can switch roles and learn something new. Engage your teachers with active learning, collaborative opportunities, and ongoing support.

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