Search form

Back to Blog

Changing the Culture to Foster Embedded Professional Development

Editor's Note: Today's guest post comes from Dr. Scott Taylor~ an educator from New Jersey.

There are certain realities about professional development (PD) that we cannot ignore:

1. After-school hours and the regular school calendar do not provide schools with enough time with which to engage teachers in professional support (Fullan & Miles~ 1992).

2. There are more and more requirements~ codes~ standards~ and research-proven teaching strategies than ever before that require training (Corcoran~ 1995).

3. Teachers are not nearly as professionally productive when they learn in isolation as they are when they have opportunities to work with their peers (Fine~ 1994).

The most effective way to address these realities is to provide teachers with professional support during the school day so they can work together in grade level~ content-area~ or committee teams for extended periods of time. Unfortunately~ the existing culture in some districts doesnt easily allow for embedded PD (releasing teachers during the school day to take part in professional development). Teachers may not readily understand the importance of taking time out of the classroom to develop curricula or collaboratively learn new instructional strategies.

I work to changing the culture so that teachers are receptive to embedded professional development in three ways. First~ I point to the research. Chung Wei~ Andree~ and Darling-Hammond (2009) validate the positive impact of embedded professional development by pointing out~ in most [high performing] European and Asian countries~ less than half of a teachers working time is spent instructing students15-20 hours per week is spent on tasks related to teaching~ such as working with colleagues on preparing and analyzing lessons~ developing and evaluating assessments~ observing other classrooms.

Second~ I always make sure teachers know how much I value their time with children.I start each professional development experience by telling teachers I recognize how difficult it is to write substitute plans~ be away from their students and maintain continuity when they get back in the classroom. I assure them their time spent away from children will be used wisely. The most effective way to convince teachers of the importance in engaging in professional growth during the school day is to provide them with the most meaningful and productive professional development that can be offered. I happen to find curriculum development to be this kind of experience.

The third approach I take to moving to a culture receptive of embedded professional development is to facilitate professional experiences that lead to the creation of tangible and applicable tools (particularly curriculum tools). Teachers love knowing they are spending school-day time fixing program problems~ making curricula more relevant to their practice~ and having a real say in important decisions about textbook adoptions and the future of what they teach.

With the passing of time and positive talk among faculty about great professional experiences will come the wearing away of the existing culture that in many cases does not support embedded professional development. Being persuasive~ practical-minded~ and tenacious will help to foster a rich professional learning environment.

Dr. Scott Taylor is currently an Assistant Superintendent in Kenilworth~ New Jersey~ and an adjunct for the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University. He has served as an teacher~ assistant principal~ principal~ and curriculumdirector at all K-12 levels. Dr. Taylor received his Doctorate from Columbia University and his B.A. and Ed.M. from Rutgers University. He can be followed on Twitter ( and via his

Find us on Google+