Effective Professional Development Begins with Customization
We should approach educator growth and development the same way that we do student instruction: through differentiation and personalization. In fact, data from the Economic Policy Institute shows that more than 50% of teachers don’t feel sufficiently supported, and nearly 25% of those teachers consider leaving teaching as a result.
“Personalized professional development provides a learning experience that is relevant to the organization at that time,” said Joshua Perdomo, director of English learner services and world languages at Community Unit School District 300 in Illinois. "It meets the individuals where they currently are. We always have something else we could be doing, so making our time worthwhile is essential. Ineffective professional development makes individuals lose confidence in the person delivering it and the program as a whole.”
Factors for Choosing the Best Professional Development Solution for Your District
Effectively customizing professional development begins with a deep understanding of student data and the broader goals of the school and district. Schools should be able to not only access data but understand how to use it to reach goals.
In order to meet educators where they are, professional development needs to engage those who are required to complete it. Personalizing the process can benefit both educators and administrators and ultimately lead to better learning experiences for students.
Check out 5 factors to consider when choosing effective, customized professional development for your educators.
- Identify learning goals and outcomes. It’s important to ask yourself what the instructional goals for your district are. Know why your educators need professional development. This is essential for the trainers to create a customized, engaging professional development session that participants will enjoy.
- Align it with instructional priorities. What do you want your educators to be able to do? Does the professional development you are providing help them do that? Customized professional development should provide strategies and information that align with what teachers are doing in their daily classroom work. It should be flexible enough that feedback from the classroom can be used to improve the professional development and the program being implemented.
- Make sure it meets the needs of teachers and administrators. Can professional development help learning professionals throughout the system? Don’t make the mistake of investing in professional development for classroom teachers without doing the same for campus administrators.
- Look for a current best practice base. It’s best to look into providing professional development for your district based on the latest research on learning. Make sure the training can be adapted to suit the multiple learning styles of your educators and administrators.
- Find a long-term partner. With a long-term partner, professional development includes ongoing instruction and mentoring from the program developers. A “one and done” professional development session will not create lasting change, but working side-by-side with educators and supporting them through frequent instructional sessions will change classrooms in your district.
Istation’s Customized Professional Development Helped Meet a District’s Key Initiatives
In Illinois’ District 300, having a large number of English learners meant that custom professional development addressed techniques for differentiation and installing a Spanish assessment program.
“We believe in building the capacity of our entire staff by providing them with knowledge to use the program effectively,” Perdomo said. “Istation has enabled the district to look at the whole child and consider all of their academic abilities in both languages to fully understand how to best support them in all areas.”
Istation trainers customize professional development sessions according to District 300 goals and needs. Perdomo, whose training motto is “go slow to go fast,” said that they spread out professional development and leave time for practicing new skills so teachers are comfortable and confident before using new skills in the classroom. Read District 300's full story here.
Listen as the educators at District 300 tell their story of powerful professional development!
Learn more about Istation’s customizable professional development that is designed on a case-by-case basis for the unique training needs of each district and school.