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Articles: Professional Development

Madera USD Superintendent Edward Gonzalez has given his 2,000-plus employees $500 each to pick their own professional development programs.

Superintendent Edward Gonzalez says teachers—and classified employees—can make wise decisions about the classroom and technical training they receive.So he gave each of his roughly 1,100 teachers $500 to spend as they choose on PD in 2014-15, and this year he extended that to classified employees.

L. Rob Furman is principal at South Park Elementary Center in Pennsylvania.

With a windstorm of constant changes in education, are we forgetting some of the basics? I’m not talking about readin’, writin’ and ’rithmetic.

Have we, through the fog of technology and the pressures of highstakes testing, simply forgotten some of the basic concepts that veteran educators once took for granted?

Barbara Blackburn is one of the nation’s foremost authors on student engagement and increasing rigor. Ronald Williamson is a professor of educational leadership at Eastern Michigan University.

Effective professional development is an essential part of every school improvement effort.

Traditionally, the process has included workshops, seminars, courses and conferences. These types of activities have varied in terms of effectiveness and often are quite costly.

George Saltsman is an associate research professor in the Center for Doctoral Studies in Global Educational Leadership at Lamar University.

The need to teach technology and “current century” skills (formally known as 21st century skills) is well documented. Establishing these proficiencies in our students is not just critical to the next generation of job-seekers, but to the economic health of the nation overall.

However, as any school administrator who has tried in the past can attest, digital devices—and training teachers to use such tools—require significant investments. Given the academic importance, the effort demands skillful leadership.

Brevard Public Schools changed principal PD in 2014-15 to focus intensively on building principals’ skills working with teachers in the modern classroom.

Some say that for principals, every day is their first day on the job. Alongside day-to-day building management issues such as hiring teachers, overseeing finances and student discipline, principals now guide teachers through new state standards and testing.

Chrys Sweeting is assistant superintendent and Tim Yeomans is superintendent of the Puyallup School District in Washington.

Following a change in leadership in the Puyallup School District during the summer of 2012, we committed to align the work of the district with professional learning for leaders and staff to serve each student.

Working with the board of directors, “Improvement of Instruction, Student Growth and Achievement” became the central focus of the district, supported by three commitments.

The Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium Standards (ISLLC) are now available. The seven standards, redrafted after the public comment period ended last fall, identify areas that school leaders should be able to demonstrate competency. An initiative of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the final versions yield some significant changes in wording, but the spirit of the draft is largely upheld.

A teacher in training from Newark Montclair Urban Teacher Residency practices new learning standards and skills with a student at McKinley School in Newark Public Schools.
Student teachers at Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teacher’s College immerse themselves in a K12 classroom during their senior year.
The programs at Dallas Baptist University’s Dorothy M. Bush College of Education exceed standards set by the state and many other teacher-prep schools. Applicants to the college must have a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Hiring and retaining talented teachers can be a challenge in any district. But finding recent teaching college graduates who are ready to excel in the classroom their very first year can be even more difficult.

Cave Creek USD had three unfilled teacher positions last year. This year, administrators are offering a signing bonus to attract new teachers to the area.

Many classrooms will remain without a permanent teacher this fall, as the teacher shortage becomes more severe in some states. Major enrollment drops in teacher prep programs signal worsening conditions in the coming years.

The 2014 annual survey of the American Psychological Association found that teens reported stress greater than did any other age group.

With that in mind, a new pilot study, published in the spring issue of the journal Advances in Mind-Body Medicine, describes how a stress-reduction/resiliency-building curriculum developed by the Benson-Henry Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital helped a group of Boston-area high school students significantly reduce anxiety.

Brandon Palmer, a national board certified teacher, conducts research on principal selection.

The continuous cycle of improvement is a paradigm often used in education to explain activities that result in personal growth through reflection. So the interview process—when enhanced by constructive feedback sessions—can also be used to provide professional development to prospective teachers and administrators.

Superintendent Bob Horan of Schodack CSD offered space to an energy research firm, a business that converts wastewater into electricity and the builders of a solar-powered boat.

Faced with a nearly 40 percent decrease in enrollment and a middle school at 33 percent capacity, Superintendent Bob Horan of Schodack CSD in upstate New York offered empty space to startup companies. 

American Indian students consistently trail all other minority groups on standardized tests. But this population had the largest reported graduation rate gain of any demographic between 2010-11 and 2012-13, rising from 65 percent to nearly 70 percent in two years.

The jump is perhaps due in part to greater numbers of native teachers and administrators returning to reservation districts, some experts say.

New PD apps can save districts money on travel costs by connecting them virtually with education consultants.

A new wave of apps connects teachers with mobile access to professional development and expands opportunities for collaboration with mentors and peers.

“When apps first started, they were basically for entertainment or information,” says Robbie Melton, associate vice chancellor of mobilization emerging technology at the Tennessee Board of Regents. “As mobile devices evolved, we now have a wealth of information and apps for education and workforce development.”

Principals shifting their roles from building manager to instructional leader need more extensive PD to ensure top performance from teachers and students, according to a new policy brief from ASCD.