Thanks to its partnership with publisher Eye on Education, EducationWorld is pleased to present this tip from Professional Development: What Works (2nd Edition), by Sally Zepeda. As part of creating an effective professional development program that moves ideas to action, this tip provides eight simple ways to keep staff engaged during a learning opportunity.
The cornerstone of successful professional development is the way in which adults are engaged in learning. Adults need and want to grow professionally; they desire ongoing learning opportunities in a place nestled within their own schools so that they can improve practice.
Reflect on the ways in which traditional professional development unfolds in most schools and systems. Typically, activities are launched in flurries at the beginning of the year, or they are offered as a means for teachers to earn “points” toward requirements for district accountability measures. Disconnected from site or district initiatives, professional development activities scheduled as one-shot events have little lasting impact on adults and their learning, and even more negligible effect on student learning, a tightly coupled goal of professional development.
Providing learning opportunities for teachers and staff to grow—professionally and personally—is the fundamental goal of professional development. For the principal to assist teachers with their growth, they need to explore the attributes of adult learning. These attributes should be incorporated into all professional development initiatives, regardless of the format, process, or content.
Roberts and Pruitt (2003) offer eight strategies to engage adult learners more appropriately in professional development. The list below examines this overview of the principles of adult learning and the strategies that will more than likely yield richer learning experiences for the adult learner. The next time you plan for a professional development session, keep these strategies in mind.
Eight Strategies to Engage Adult Learners
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