Effective Methods of Professional Development

Effective Methods of Professional Development

Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4622-2.ch001

Abstract

This chapter discusses successful elements of professional learning practices. Teacher interviews inform this chapter, as they share their own experiences. Teachers come to staff development with beliefs and knowledge about teaching. The relationship between the knowledge and opinions that teachers bring and what staff developers offer are critical to the acceptance of new instructional practices. For meaningful instructional changes to occur, teachers must have a voice in the process of their own learning. Successful professional development should allow for reflection, collaboration, and acknowledge the needs and interests of teachers. Furthermore, adult education practices need to be considered when designing professional learning sessions.
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Traditional Professional Development

Behind every great team is a strong culture; great leadership; and passionate, committed people.

-Jon Gordon

As discussed previously, staff development is critical to improved student learning; therefore, collaboration and dialogue among colleagues is essential (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012; Hattie, 2012). Staff development sessions are ideal places to encourage life-long learning and promote district- learning goals so that all teachers are on the same page. Unfortunately, the literature regarding current faculty development practices does not paint that picture. In a discussion of faculty development, Heller et. al. (2012) noted that traditionally most staff development methods were based on the assumption that teachers have little to offer, and resulted in little engagement with what teachers already know. This passive method of learning has been criticized for use with adult learners. Despite the time and effort, the outcomes of professional development are not always as anticipated leaving some teachers disappointed. In a large-scale study of secondary math teachers, much professional development appears to be ineffective (Ingvarson, Beavis, Bishop, Peck, and Elsworth (2004). Reporting on professional development trainings to deepen content knowledge, Banilower, Boyd, Pasley, and Weiss (2006), found that sessions were abandoned in order to deal with more pressing concerns for material management.

In traditional professional development, when teachers attend workshops, seminars, and professional forums, sharing of training is essential to those teachers who did not attend the development session from the same school. However, typically, most teachers attend fragmented professional development sessions without sustained feedback or collaboration with colleagues (Rock & Wilson, 2005). When teachers participate in traditional professional development their attendance does not ensure their learning. Further, what they learn may not be meaningfully applied in their classroom (Scanlon, Gallego, Duran, & Reyes, 2005). This may imply that knowledge is learnt when shared; therefore, when professional development knowledge or training is shared upon arrival both the participated teachers and the colleagues whom knowledge is shared are likely to put into practice as they observe and collaborate with one another. Traditional staff development sessions therefore, neither acknowledge teachers’ interest and commitment to a new practice nor help them to make links to their beliefs about effective practice (Santagata & Yeh, 2016). This makes it difficult to achieve effective teachers’ professional development for sustainable student learning.

Effective teachers’ professional development needs to be interactive, collaborative, and creative among themselves. An interactive staff development that allows the teacher to be part of the planning, analysis, and refinement of instructional strategies has been found to be effective (Scanlon, Gallego, Duran, & Reyes, 2005). Teachers are motivated when they feel ownership about decisions that affect teachers themselves (Hattie, 2012). Professionals who feel they contribute to the development of other teachers by being part of a high performing team, which is not about individual accountability but about powerful collective responsibility, will increase the quality of the whole teaching profession in a building (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012). Therefore, learning is sharing and interacting with one another to achieve life-long learning culture.

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