Professional-development reform: 8 steps to make it happen By Tom Murray

Ideas that Work

Every year, school districts around the country waste a tremendous amount of time and money on ineffective professional development. The traditional model of “sit and get,” where a one-size-fits-all approach is utilized, yields abhorrent results. Ask teachers from typical school districts in America their thoughts on traditional in-service time, and the feedback won’t be pretty. Professional development in many districts must undergo radical reform, from a model that’s outdated and ineffective to one that’s differentiated, meaningful and engaging.

How can school districts reform their professional development?

  1. Clearly define and articulate the vision. Do all stakeholders understand the end goal? How should instruction improve due to the time that’s invested? How will students benefit? Can the vision be articulated by all staff members? Do staff help formulate that vision? Is the vision only one year or more long term?
  2. Lead by example and model professional learning. Administrators must take on the role of lead learner by modeling professional growth. Staff will rise to the level of the bar that is modeled for them. Learn alongside your staff members and model expectations for them. Utilize time in an efficient and meaningful manner. Invest the time in professional development, not managerial tasks. Model and share your learning throughout the process.

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