Just like their students, teachers are constantly striving to improve their skills so they can, in turn, improve their students’ learning. Supportive, teacher-centered professional development (PD) is a powerful way for teachers to continuously learn and grow along with their students.
Planning Teacher-Centered PD
Here are a few key steps for planning teacher-centered PD that inspires growth and helps teachers reach their personal goals:
1. Make sure PD is appreciated from the top down. If a school has been using outdated PD models but wants to take the plunge into new, teacher-centered strategies, administrators may need some PD of their own to get a better grasp on this concept.
2. Make PD ongoing. In the past, traditional PD models relied on simply conducting workshops here and there that offered very little feedback and virtually no follow-up. To keep teachers actively engaged and to see real change, the cycle of PD opportunities and reflection must be ongoing and include continuous feedback. Administrators should use PD models that can be tested and applied within a teacher’s daily routine.
3. Make PD a team sport between the teachers and the principal. The individuals who know what they need best are the ones in the trenches: the teachers and the principal. Working with school principals, versus having the central office solely dictate PD opportunities, can yield more effective PD and help teachers reach their full potential.
Making Observations Worthwhile
Another important part of teacher-centered professional development is observation. Veteran teachers may have had little experience in the past with formal classroom observation and feedback. Whether a teacher is struggling with classroom management, has trouble with student engagement, or simply feels stuck in a rut, getting some constructive criticism from a qualified assessor can bring about positive and long-lasting changes.
When planning teacher observations, here are a few tips for making the exchange teacher-centered and based on mutual trust, respect, and the spirit of collaboration:
- Don’t base a final assessment on just one observation. Instead, observe the teacher a number of times.
- Be sure to share exactly how you’ll be assessing the teacher, whether formally or informally, and the precise assessment tools you’ll be using (a rubric, for example).
- Give the teacher a voice in the observation process. BloomBoard observation tools allow teachers to set their own goals, upload student work and lesson plans for their observers to review, and rate themselves on their assessment rubric.
- When giving constructive criticism, be sure to use the “feedback sandwich”: a positive comment (something you loved about the lesson plan), then an area in which the teacher needs improvement and recommendations on how to improve, and then another positive comment.
The BloomBoard Marketplace provides free resources for teachers that personalize PD. We believe that each teacher’s growth opportunities and goals are just as unique as each student’s, and we provide a wide range of resources to assist every teacher on his or her PD journey.
What other tactics or resources have you used to provide successful teacher-centered PD?