- The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative announced a $1.2 million grant to fund 717 DonorsChoose professional development projects chosen by 600 teachers across the nation, according to a press release.
- So far, over $580,000 has been used to fund PD projects supporting more than 680 teachers, according to DonorsChoose.
- Professional development opportunities funded through the grant include conferences on literacy instruction practices,obtaining certification in teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), and training on implementing social-emotional learning.
A 2019 Scholastic survey of more than 4,700 public school Pre-K–12 educators nationwide showed nearly all teachers (97%) and principals (100%) want "effective, ongoing and relevant" professional development. Over 80% of both groups say they wish they had more opportunities tailored to their PD needs. The most sought after area in which teachers are seeking professional development is instructional strategies.
Strong professional development remains key to successful curriculum implementation and quality instruction, according to experts.
"Getting a new textbook and turning its pages is not what educators want or need," Ronn Nozoe, interim executive director and CEO of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, told Education Dive. "They need to truly understand what the overall expectations and goals are of the new [curriculum] initiatives so that they can internalize those practices."
The investment in ongoing professional learning and in "human capital," he said, "is critical" to the success of new initiatives.
The grant shouldn't be the "focal point" for those who receive it, according to Nozoe. Rather, how school staff, administrators and district learners align to turn the one-time grant into a longterm shared investment will determine its effectiveness.
"If they are truly committed to it and it's building on a shared investment, then you have a much better chance at success and effectiveness," Nozoe said, pointing out that a "one-time-wonder approach" to professional learning is not effective.
While the $1.2 million in funds allows teachers to choose their own PD — something that has been a source of recent debate with Trump's 2020 budget proposal for the U.S. Department of Education seeking to fund and evaluate “teacher-driven” PD — the most successful professional learning is born out of marrying multiple perspectives. "In the most effective classrooms, there's a team approach where its leaders and teachers collaborating to work out the specific outcomes and methodologies," Nozoe said. "That's the sweet spot."