Professional Development: Learning from the Best
This toolkit takes the best practices of award-winning schools and organizes them into a step-by-step planner for designing and implementing professional development. It digs beneath the award criteria and tells us how award winners did it.
For example, we know that getting teachers involved in professional development design is one award criterion. This guide tells you specifically how award winners got teachers involved. It also will help you follow these important strategies:
- Put Your Ideas Into Action. The goal of this guide is to help schools and districts move from thinking about change to doing it. The guide provides tools to lead professional development change in your own school or district. Specifically, an Organizers' Checklist and series of Action Planning Tools help you identify key decisions you need to make.
- Prepare to Work Hard--and Together. Leading important change is always challenging. Overcoming obstacles takes a craving for excellence, creative effort, attention to details, high levels of persuasion, and just the right balance between patience and determination. Few individuals can do all of these all the time. That is one good reason why the award winners presented here drew on the skills and talents of several people to lead change. The award winners caution that even by sharing the challenge, they had to work hard.
- Recognize That You Do Not Need to Be an "Expert." Most change leaders in winning organizations were not professional development "experts." Typically, they were teachers, principals, and other staff concerned about student learning. Most learned about professional development by conducting research and tapping the knowledge of experts. You, too, can build your knowledge of professional development to improve results in your school or district. If you and your colleagues need to develop basic knowledge of professional development, explore the resources in Appendix B, and plan to spend more time in the research phase of professional development design.
- Use Our Resources. This guide provides other resources to support your professional development. Appendices include the full award criteria matched with the action steps presented in this guide (Appendix A); resources for staying current in professional development (primarily Web sites) (Appendix B); brief profiles of award-winning organizations (Appendix C); and a literature review showing why the award criteria have led to great results in schools (Appendix D).
- professional development