- Based on a conversation with Kathy Dyer, NWEA professional learning design manager of innovation and learning, eSchool News offers a handful of suggestions for administrators looking to improve professional development (PD) opportunities.
- To offer more relevant PD, administrators should survey educators to find out what they see as the three most important areas where they need improvement, offer them choice in which topics they explore in-depth, and set short- and long-term goals.
- Additionally, all participants must receive clear explanations of the metrics of success, and ongoing support should be provided in the form of coaching and professional learning networks.
As with students, the way in which professional learning opportunities are delivered to educators is rapidly changing. Lecture-driven "sit-and-get" approaches are no longer enough in either scenario, and in many cases, it's likely beneficial that educators receive their PD in a model similar to the ones they're now expected to use with students.
In a survey last year, educators provided their thoughts on the PD experiences they preferred, suggesting high-quality student-teaching experiences as the most critical for pre-service teachers, effective principals and assigned and informal mentors for novice teachers, National Board Certification and graduate coursework for career stage teachers, and service as mentors or coaches for teacher leaders.
Ultimately, PD needs to be as relevant to teachers' needs and as personalized as possible, lest boredom should set in. Micro-credentials could potentially make this easier to accomplish, allowing individual teachers or small groups with the same needs or interests to pursue specific skillsets. While these tracks must also be vetted for rigor, stakeholder value, oversight and incentives for teachers earning them, they could also allow those educators to later serve as faculty experts who can coach peers in the same skills.