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Professional Development Strategies

Professional Development Strategies

Author: Trisha Fyfe

In this lesson, students will learn about various methods of professional development for teachers.

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Source: Image light, Public Domain, http://tinyurl.com/p4pfjr7; Image of teacher and board, Public Domain, http://pixabay.com/en/classroom-education-school-hand-381896/

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Welcome. I'm Trisha Fyfe, and in today's video lesson, we'll cover the lesson titled professional development strategies. As we learn about this topic, we'll work towards several learning objectives. And together, we'll use the following two questions today to guide our learning in this lesson. What are professional development best practices and what are some benefits of different approaches to professional development?

Let's start by talking about professional development and coaching best practices. Professional development plans, professional improvement plans, and instructional coaching are all very different in nature. We reviewed each of these in previous lessons. However, all three share best practices. All three of these plans and coaching should be based on an understanding of adult learning and motivation.

They should encourage professional collaboration in the development of the plan and in their approach. They should all encourage collaborative dialogue between colleagues. They should all three be ongoing and they should be geared at broadening skills and enhancing knowledge by practice. Let's take a look at methods for professional development.

There are four main methods. There are many diverse techniques that can be implemented and used in professional development. Different schools and districts might use particular techniques or they might choose to use combinations depending on the needs of teachers or specific goals. Some methods include goal setting.

This method is often a piece to professional improvement plans, professional development plans, and instructional coaching. And it can be used to develop targets for improvement efforts. The pros to goal setting are that it encourages collaboration between peers and it encourages reflection on successes and challenges for the teachers.

The cons are that it is time consuming and teachers must be fully engaged. They must also have a certain amount of willingness to participate. Another method is completing coursework. Teachers may have opportunities to take courses or complete workshops. These courses and workshops can count towards professional and/or college credits and can be used in professional development planning to work towards specific goals.

The pros of this method are that it is helpful for teachers to learn new methods and participate in collaboration with professionals in the field of education. The cons are that these courses and sometimes workshops can be costly. They can also be time consuming, taking critical time away from the classroom. The last con here is that they are not always aligned completely with the teacher's goal and the content area that needs to be focused on.

Another method is teacher evaluation and feedback. Teacher evaluation generally occurs on a cycle of every one to three years. This evaluation is performed by instructional specialists, administrators, and supervisors in the school district. And the feedback from these evaluations can be brought into instructional coaching goals and professional development plans.

The pros to this method are that it is helpful have another professional observe and evaluate. The classroom, the teacher and student interactions, students in action, and work samples can all be observed by this evaluator. The cons of this method are that while this evaluation and observations consists of a lot, it's completed by just one person.

The information may be limited as well, such as when the information comes only from the observation. The last method we'll discuss today is teacher incentive pay or pay for performance. Bonus pay or other compensation is awarded for teachers who have increases in student achievement in some school districts. The main pro of this method is that most definitely, it encourages excellence by means of pay.

The cons are that it can be very controversial. Sometimes, teachers have very little choice in their teaching circumstances, if any at all. They do not always choose classes or students. And there may be many factors as far as achievement that are outside of that teacher's control.

Let's talk about the benefits of professional development plans. The benefits of professional development plans are many. Some of the benefits include improving skills. Professional development plans encourage professional skill building and learning while promoting instructional improvement.

They can improve instruction and help teachers increase their bag of tricks that they have. Another benefit of professional development plans is that they offer collaboration and opportunities for connection. There's much review in planning that goes into these development plans and they offer collaborative environments. Educators can learn from one another in these types of environments and the feelings of isolation the teachers sometimes experience when they feel like they're on their own are removed.

Another benefit of professional development plans is that they offer alignment between professional development goals and academic performance and student achievement levels that come from the students. They can add goals professionally to plans that offer improvement opportunities. Reflection is another benefit of these professional development plans.

Teachers are encouraged and guided to reflect and assess themselves throughout this entire process. These plans also offer personalization. We can provide different processes for teachers who've been in the field for a long time and teachers who are new as well as probationary teachers and teachers who are just implementing changes into their curriculum to better themselves.

These plans are very flexible in diverse. The last benefit that we'll talk about here is that these plans offer long term development. This is an ongoing process. As teachers, we want to make sure that we are annually and throughout the entire school year developing. And so professional development plans are geared towards that.

They foster long term growth for us as teachers. Let's talk about what we learned today. We looked at the following questions. What are professional development practices and what are some of the benefits of different approaches to professional development? In this lesson, we explored various strategies for the diverse techniques that can be implemented and used in professional development.

Districts or schools might use particular techniques or maybe combinations depending on the needs of teachers or specific goals. We looked at best practices to consider and the benefits of professional development plans, which include the fact that they improve skills, allow for collaboration, reflection, and long term development and offer alignment between professional goals and student achievement.

Now that you're more familiar with these concepts, let's reflect. Think of the time that you were involved in or observed a professional development plan in action. What were the methods used? What were the benefits? Thanks for joining me today in discussing the lesson professional development strategies.

I hope you found value in this lesson and are able to apply these ideas and resources to your own teaching. Now it's your turn to apply what you've learned in this video. The additional resources section will be super helpful. This section is designed to help you discover useful ways to apply what you've learned here. Each link includes a brief description so you can easily target the resources that you want.

Notes on “Professional Development Strategies”


(00:00- 00:22) Introduction/Objectives

(00:23- 01:07) Professional Development and Best Practices

(01:08- 03:56) Methods for Professional Development

(03:57- 05:45)  Benefits of Professional Development

(05:46- 06:25) Recap

(06:26- 07:06) Reflection 

Additional Resources

Why Is Teacher Development Important?: Because Students Deserve the Best

This Edutopia article considers both the induction of new teachers and the need for ongoing professional development for teachers.

Providing Ongoing Professional Development

This page on the NEA site provides useful information on the need for and importance of ongoing professional development. In addition, there are useful professional development planning tools and resources.