- While many schools find it most convenient and cost-effective to deliver professional development before or after normal school hours, administrators and teacher leaders need to strategically plan to make these sessions engaging and effective, Edutopia reports.
- There are six basic strategies that can help teacher leaders deliver relevant professional development during the school day: Keep topics simple; provide minimal handouts; make the topic matter, help teachers connect the dots between the PD and the classroom; be sensitive to needs, and gather feedback.
- After the sessions, have teachers complete exit tickets, send out notes thanking teachers for their time, follow up on reasonable suggestions for future sessions and respond to teacher requests for help or additional resources.
Studies have shown that effective professional development of at least 49 hours has a positive effect on student achievement. Many schools try to cram in this PD for a few days at the beginning or end of the school year. However, in Why Professional Development Matters, a paper for Learning Forward, Hayes Mizell says that this PD is most effective when it occurs in the context of an educator’s daily work.
“When learning is part of the school day, all educators are engaged in growth rather than learning being limited to those who volunteer to participate on their own,” Mizell writes. “School-based professional development helps educators analyze student achievement data during the school year to immediately identify learning problems, develop solutions and promptly apply those solutions to address students’ needs.”
Some schools build in regular professional development sessions for smaller groups once a week, utilizing other teachers or support staff to provide activities and supervision during this time. Other schools begin later or close school early one day a week to allow for regular professional development sessions. Whenever the PD occurs, the sessions need to be exciting, relevant events that engage teachers and provide them with information they need in a format they want. Grabbing their attention by using short videos to begin the sessions, providing food at PD sessions and using other engaging strategies will also make teachers look forward to these events rather than dreading them.