Many schools do a great job in giving teachers access to professional development. Some school have the teacher professional development calendar all planned out prior to the commencement of the school year and align teacher growth with the needs of the school and teacher goals. In other schools teachers are asked about what they would like to see in their school’s professional development program and the school leaders are then able to build it around these requirements. Many schools are effective at utilising a combination of school-based, external and online professional development delivered by a blend of their own teachers and experienced outsourced providers.
While the above efforts are positive steps for schools in providing teachers with professional development and training, the most important aspect of a teachers professional growth can quite often be neglected. What do teachers do with the training that they have just received to improve their own and the school’s performance but, more importantly, how has that training impacted positively on student learning?
It is vital that any good professional development program focuses on deliverables; those things that we are should see from teachers after they attend a workshop or conference. This should certainly be factored into any application that a teacher puts in for training. There has to be a purpose to why they wish to engage in this learning opportunity in the first place. Secondly, and most importantly, what will the school get out of it?
A mixture of short and long term goals set by the teacher arising from their professional learning is a good place to start. School leaders are then required to devise systems that follow-up and hold teachers responsible for implementing aspects of what they have learned in their everyday practice.
The best schools not only are great providers of professional learning opportunities, they are also truly able to report on how teacher professional development has both changed and improved practice in their school.