This topic explores the benefits of providing opportunities for teachers, administrators, and other school personnel to acquire or improve their professional knowledge and skills.
Professional development helps teachers and other school personnel acquire or enhance their knowledge and skills in order to improve teaching and learning. Until recently, professional development activities were almost always brief after-school sessions that focused on “hot” topics or current teaching trends that may or may not have reflected the needs of a particular school or its students. These sessions were often provided by outside experts and the participants were usually passive recipients of the information. Today, however, good schools are recognizing that changes in professional development training and activities must be made. Some of these changes include:
- Providing professional development training on strategies and programs that have been proven by research to be effective;
- Offering training in a variety of formats such as independent study, online courses, and collegial study groups;
- Providing coaching for participants after initial training sessions;
- Embedding training in the participant's job and work environment;
- Linking professional development to school improvement goals, student learning, and student performance in meeting standards;
- Encouraging cross-training programs between professionals such as general and special education teachers and support staff (many other variations are possible); and
- Promoting multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary training at all levels to support student educational and postschool plans.