Often I find educators asking themselves do I really need this professional development (PD)? Can someone just break down the presentation for me and give me the “lite” version so I don’t have to attend. Most PD sessions these days are not about a ‘sit and get’. It is much more about what you put into the time, the learning, and then the doing.
The Proposed Amendments to Section 9101 (34) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as reauthorized by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 defines “professional development” as a means to comprehensive, sustained, and intensive approach to improving teachers’ and principals’ effectiveness in raising student achievement.
According to this definition there are deeper expectations given by allies and advocates of NCLB and input by Learning Forward.
(1) is aligned with rigorous state student academic achievement standards as well as related local educational agency and school improvement goals; (Using ISLLC Standards, Common Core or other state standards tied to school plans)
(2) is conducted among educators at the school and facilitated by well-prepared school principals and/or school-based professional development coaches, mentors, master teachers, or other teacher leaders; (Ensuring there is quality from professionals in the field, information is research based and has been implemented in other schools with fidelity and success)
(3) primarily occurs several times per week among established teams of teachers, principals, and other instructional staff members where the teams of educators engage in a continuous cycle of improvement that —(there is time to put the learning in place, it is evaluated and assessed to a continuous improvement plan)
(i) evaluates student, teacher, and school learning needs through a thorough review of data on teacher and student performance; (this is cyclical and on-going)
(ii) defines a clear set of educator learning goals based on the rigorous analysis of the data; (not only are you assessing the data but you are trying interventions and if they do not provide a fix to your problem then trying a different intervention to show a change in data and closing the gap)
(iii) achieves the educator learning goals identified in subsection (A)(3)(ii) by implementing coherent, sustained, and evidenced-based learning strategies, such as lesson study and the development of formative assessments, that improve instructional effectiveness and student achievement; (Communication among teachers around the unpacking of standards, looking at instruction and using depth of knowledge questioning techniques)
(iv) provides job-embedded coaching or other forms of assistance to support the transfer of new knowledge and skills to the classroom; (offering one-on-one coaching with principals as well as small group coaching, so we can ensure questions are getting answered and resources being matched with needs to instruction)
(v) regularly assesses the effectiveness of the professional development in achieving identified learning goals, improving teaching, and assisting all students in meeting challenging state academic achievement standards; (Looking at assessment in various modes, whether it is summative, formative, informal, quantitative, qualitative, etc. Then ensuring teachers are having rich discussions about their assessments and checks for understanding)
(vi) informs ongoing improvements in teaching and student learning; and(we must keep revisiting the teaching and learning so we provide improvement to how and why we are teaching particular information)
(vii) that may be supported by external assistance. (An outside group such as Edwards Educational Consulting can provide a third party lens and be able to help with instructional leadership and learning).
Participating in professional development communicates to your supervisor, peers, colleagues and other constituents that you want to learn, you want to better your own level of understanding and you can learn. So show up, participate, and soak the knowledge. You will be surprised how much you can pack in your toolkit!
Learning Forward’s Definition of Professional Development: The Second Dimension (PDF), Remarks to Learning Forward Affiliate Leaders at their meeting in Orlando, Fla., July 2008.
~Debbie Lane, Ed.D, EES Consultant