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Articles: Professional Development

Teachers participate in an EdCamp session, where the PD agenda is not determined until they arrive.

If today’s students are expected to direct their own learning, teachers have to be prepared to do the same. That’s the philosophy behind Edcamp, an international network of free, one-day “unconferences” where agendas and sessions aren’t determined until educators arrive in the morning and suggest topics.

When it comes to instruction, new learning standards like the Common Core and technology will get the most attention in 2015. (Click to enlarge chart)

Exciting advancements are on the horizon for classrooms in 2015. While they sound technical, the biggest changes aren’t going to be driven by an app, a computer program or a new kind of tablet—they will come from new theories about how to engage both students and teachers in the classroom.

As baby boomers retire and school enrollment steadily increases, more districts are searching internationally to find candidates for difficult-to-fill math and science positions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that districts will need to hire nearly half a million teachers by the end of the decade.

Charles Young is the associate superintendent for the Palo Alto Unified School District. Lisa Gonzales is the superintendent of the Portola Valley School District.

Truly effective leaders blend elements of coaching with their leadership skills to build trust and maximize the power of social interactions. But when it comes to working with other administrators to hone their skills, the need to coach a coach takes on a greater level of importance.

Timothy Purnell is superintendent and Timothy Teehan is academic achievement officer for Somerville Public Schools.

Massachusetts has led the nation with the top National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores for the fifth consecutive time on fourth- and eighth-grade reading and mathematics assessments.

While we realize that unknown variables are part of the equation, it was this statistical preeminence that led us to send a team from Somerville Public Schools in New Jersey to the Northbridge School District in Massachusetts to investigate instructional practices.

Jessica Cuthbertson, a teacher leader in Aurora Public Schools, teaches middle school students. Cutherbertson considers herself a “teacherpreneur” and attends summer retreats via the Center for Teaching Quality.

Although teachers have long coached colleagues and developed curriculum informally and without compensation, teacher leadership programs aim to formalize the role by instituting rigorous selection processes, training and pay.

Twitter has become the new education conference—and it’s in session all day, every day of the year, some educators now say.

Principals, teachers, tech experts and other educators have created dozens of robust, professional learning networks—also called Twitter chats—to connect with each other and share solutions to common challenges.

A teacher candidate from the NEA’s San Francisco residency program leads a lesson.

Teacher preparation programs have been criticized for not providing educators with sufficient classroom skills, as noted in the National Council on Teacher Quality’s “Teacher Prep Review 2014.”

In her book "Building a Better Teacher," Elizabeth Green shows what happens in the classrooms of great teachers

Great teachers are those who have tapped into how we learn at a deeper level, and that, author Elizabeth Green says, is a skill that can be passed on. In her book Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works And How To Teach It To Everyone, Green shows what happens in the classrooms of great teachers and how that can be scaled to an entire school or district.

Richard Elmore is the Gregory R. Anrig Professor of Educational Leadership at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.

In an age of assessments, every school today knows how it is performing and understands the stakes of failing to meet expectations. Yet vast numbers of schools across the nation have been unable to improve, despite the threats of sanctions or outright closure.

Foreign language teachers are cultivating global competence in today's classrooms. Above, educators interact at last year’s conference of the American Council of the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

Foreign language has become a necessity for “global competence”—the ability to use a language beyond the classroom, in the workforce and in social settings. The idea of global competence encompasses sensitivity, respect and understanding of other cultural perspectives.

In The Power of Teacher Leaders, top educational researchers describe the many ways teachers are leading.

The Power of Teacher Leaders: Their Roles, Influence, and Impact

Routledge Education

In The Power of Teacher Leaders, top educational researchers describe the many ways teachers are leading.

In each chapter, the contributing experts present original research, case studies and programs in practice.

The topics covered include how teachers become leaders, and the effects their leadership has on school communities and student success.

At Raymond LaPerche Elementary School in Smithfield, R.I., Amy O’Hara, school data leadershp team member, far left, works with first-grade teachers Lena Martel and Laura Zucker to analyze reading test results and to determine specific skills to target.

A new bounty of academic data is guiding teachers as they adjust instruction in the hopes of boosting student achievement. Some districts are connecting “data coaches” with the teachers’ own professional learning communities to ensure this bounty of information fulfills its pedagogical promise.

City of Fairfax Schools Superintendent Peter Noonan says PLCs take leadership from both teachers and administrators.

City of Fairfax Schools' leader has been a champion of professional learning communities for teachrs and administrators in large and small distrcits, and has seen results in increased AP participation, higher test scores and improved discipline.

Anton Inglese, CIO at Batavia Public School District in Illinois, helps a student practice a math lesson on his tablet. He says he gained more insight into classroom practices while studying for the CETL test, and now considers the big picture when upgrading technology.

Given the need for qualified school technologists, there are a few training programs that specifically address the unique combination of technical and pedagogical skills needed for leaders and their staff. How then, do district technology leaders and their staff develop that unique set of skills?