Educational leaders in administration oversee the learning development of not only the students in their districts but also the professional development of faculty and staff. This means many people and needs, and they all require different approaches to help them succeed.
Finding the time for additional professional development can be difficult, so it is critically important that administrators and leaders know how to meet them halfway through this challenge. Many tools and best practices make this process easier.
An advanced degree program such as the online Master of Science in Educational Administration and Leadership from St. Cloud State University (SCSU) prepares graduates to be effective, motivational leaders in professional development for educators in their district. Leaders will come away from the SCSU program with the expertise and critical-thinking skills required to cultivate an engaging, equitable environment that encourages continued growth among professional educators.
Professional development for educators can take many forms, from invited speakers to regularly scheduled learning sessions among peers. The effectiveness of different methods varies from person to person or school to school. However, certain aspects of the professional learning process have proven themselves over time as effective ways to approach new ideas.
The following are some common elements of the professional development process that have proven to yield constructive results.
Develop Ideas to Use ASAP
Teachers are always juggling a variety of responsibilities, and unless teaching strategies are practiced soon after learning them, they can be forgotten over time. As noted in this Edutopia post about professional development tips, the most effective PD sessions are when teachers create lesson plans they can use within two weeks of completing that training. If something is worth teaching, it is worth trying, and implementing sooner than later helps generate more positive outcomes.
Ensure Strategies Suit the Needs of School and Faculty
Different school environments have different needs. Some might be better suited for, or even prefer, professional development that occurs digitally. Sometimes this is not up to the individual but is determined by the school’s location. Therefore, educational administrators must be able to assess the needs of their school communities and adjust their PD training to suit everyone.
For instance, in a 2021 survey of educators published by EdWeek Research Center, 73% of principals at rural schools preferred in-person PD training versus online, but most principals at urban schools (57%) preferred online sessions. The same survey found that principals in school districts of 10,000 students or more were more likely to say they needed PD in technology than those in districts of 2,500 students or fewer (53% versus 28%). These examples are basic, but they illustrate the many elements that contribute to creating effective PD engagement from educators.
Receive Feedback and Offer Support
When training educators on new methods or strategies, creating a rubric that can evaluate its effectiveness is also important. This way, educators have a common baseline for sharing pros and cons and can offer additional feedback. In turn, trained administrators or peers can review their success and tweak their approach as necessary.
It is essential to have long-term support when trying to implement new ideas instead of making decisions based on short-term results. According to a list of PD strategies from TeachThought, teachers often learn, understand, and want to act on a new idea or technique. But “it’s hard for them to implement that idea without ongoing support.” Giving new ideas the necessary time to potentially blossom is beneficial for both teachers and students.