Six Activities to Support Staff PD
Thanks to its partnership with publisher Eye on Education, EducationWorld is pleased to present this advice from Building a Culture of Support: Strategies for School Leaders, by PJ Caposey. In this tip, Caposey discusses strategies for supporting professional development of faculty and staff members.
The only things that look the same in America today as they did in 1962 are schools. While the school calendar and buildings may look the same, leaders must work to make sure that the practices in schools are ever-changing and ever-growing. During an #edchat on Twitter recently, somebody tweeted, “As professionals, teachers should want to improve their practice on their own.” I agree with the sentiment, but the operative word in the above Tweet is “should.” For those who do not, it is the responsibility of leadership to engage them in their own professional development.
This means that the building leader must serve as the instructional leader, instructional coach and facilitator to all members of the staff. All new information regarding best practices, from technology to brain research to instructional strategies, should be consumed, filtered and distributed in understandable nuggets for faculty members to address their personal areas for potential or needed growth. Administrators must serve as the lead learners in their building.
Activities to support the professional development of faculty or staff members include:
Send out weekly best-practices e-mails: Pick any best practice topic and link four or five articles relating to the theme. These are not required reading, but if they are important enough to send out to people, they should also come up in discussion.
Assign faculty meeting readings: Bogging down staff with required reading outside of the school day may be counterproductive, depending on the professional maturity of your staff. Carving out 15 minutes of a faculty meeting and asking professionals to read and have a debriefing about an article is, however, entirely appropriate. Faculty meetings are often considered the principal’s time; your willingness to give up that time to promote best practices is a powerful indicator of what is important in your culture.
Create voluntary book blogs: As lead learner, you should constantly have a book you are working through. Sending an e-mail announcing a book read and setting up a blog literally will take about 10 minutes of time and may engage 15 to 20 percent of your staff members in a worthwhile experience grounded in best practices.
Embed professional development in your school improvement action plan: School improvement plans are collaboratively written and should largely focus upon student achievement. Since plans are designed to improve achievement, staff members must be given the training to change their actions in the desired manner. Thus, professional development that applies to all staff members should be embedded in the plan that drives school decision-making.
Model the behavior: As the principal, you should always model appropriate professional behavior. As the lead learner, you should always be learning. Activities that foster your own professional growth (especially those that take place outside of the typical workday) set a clear tone that the status quo is not accepted and that continued growth is an expectation.
Use teacher evaluation data: School-wide professional development activities should promote areas identified as weaknesses through personnel evaluation. Data should be recorded, and trends regarding the faculty should be used to develop comprehensive professional development that serves the needs of staff.
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