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Articles: Professional Development

How closely is professional development linked to student achievement?

Professionalism expects learning to be in the collective. We should think of our own learning and growth as part of a mutually beneficial ongoing professional development process. A big part of that idea is that we share and become more transparent in our practice as educators. 

When Mark MacLean became superintendent of the Merrimack Valley and Andover School Districts in New Hampshire four years ago, he wanted to find an online solution for teacher evaluation that could also link to professional development.

After some research with his leadership team, MacLean found TeachPoint, which offers a Professional Development Tracking Solution that also enables districts to link ongoing professional development with its Educator Evaluation Solution. MacLean decided to use the Evaluation Solution on its own for one year before adding the PD Tracking Solution.

When it comes to professional development, Regina Teat believes building the instructional capacity of every instructor and classroom teacher is the most effective use of time and money of any program, especially using grant funding.

“When the money goes away, the capacity and knowledge through good professional development for the teacher remains,” says Teat, Director of Elementary Education and Title I & II for Dorchester County Public Schools, a rural district located on Maryland’s eastern shore.

Timothy Collier has been teaching high school mathematics for more than 30 years, most of them at McAlester High School in southeast Oklahoma, where he is the department chair. State budget cuts have affected McAlester High School and the district’s eight other schools, especially in the area of professional development for teachers, who were facing shifting state standards in math and science.

School districts know that “sit-and-get” professional development isn’t working and can have extreme consequences, such as high teacher turnover and poor student performance. To combat this, across the country there is an ongoing, rapid evolution of professional development to be more personalized. While change in education is often slow, this long-overdue advancement is quickly taking shape. 

Trish Rubin, former educator and now marketing consultant, wrote BrandED: Tell Your Story, Build Relationships and Empower Learning. Follow her at @trishrubin.

Branding is an empowering trend for educators who move out of their typical professional silos into understanding marketing tools.

HANDS-ON LEARNING—The Mandell Academy at the Connecticut Science Center provides opportunities for local teachers to experiment with science in a student-free environment.

Many science centers and museums offer STEM-related PD, and want to partner with districts to develop programs that align with school curriculum and Next Generation Science Standards.

Only a handful of superintendents have launched a brand-new district. Even fewer have done it only months after being involved in a large-scale merger. Meet David Stephens, superintendent of Bartlett City Schools.

A lack of PD for teachers and principals hinders schools from achieving the full benefits of personalized learning, according to an analysis by MAPLE.

With districts facing a shortage of bilingual teachers, paraprofessionals present a rich source of candidates.

Ken Trump (ken@schoolsecurity. org) is the president of National School Safety and Security Services.

How can administrators prepare staff with best practices and reasonable emergency plans? How can you communicate safety to your parents in a social media world on digital steroids?

Clockwise from top left: Brian Eschbacher, Brisa Ayub, Theresa Morris, Jennifer Abrams, Kirk Langer, Kate Walsh, Rene Islas, Tamara Fyke, Amy Klinger, Matthew Emerson

What should happen and what will happen in various areas of education over the next few years elicits different answers from educators and from other experts.

Facing state budget cuts, Hillsboro School District in Oregon was searching for a cost-efficient way to offer training to its paraeducator staff (paraprofessionals, educational assistants, instructional aides, etc.), who work with more than 20,000 students across 35 schools.

Jill Chochol is executive director of Student Achievement for Dearborn Public Schools. Glenn Maleyko is superintendent of Dearborn Public Schools.

The organizational tendency of many large school districts is to divide elementary and secondary education into separate departments.

Tracy Epp is the executive vice president and chief operating officer at the National Math and Science Initiative.

Despite billions of federal and local dollars spent every year on PD, far too many teachers say the experience does little to help them support their students.

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