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Professional Development days are sprinkled throughout the calendar year, but not all PDs are created equal. The Center for Public Education, in a 2013 report entitled, “Teaching The Teachers: Effective Professional Development in an Era of High Stakes Accountability”, highlights characteristics that comprise successful professional developments.
The most effective PD sessions:
1. Offer significant duration and intensity: this allows for practice, skill transfer and mastery in application; report cites benefits at 20, 50, and 80 hours
2. Are actively supported: on-site coaching during implementation in order to course-correct individual and specific challenges met in practice; active and sustained coaching helps educators avoid “implementation dip”, reversion and avoidance of new skills
3. Maintain engagement: conventionally passive workshops alone are ineffective at changing teachers’ practice due to boredom, tuning-out and inability to immediately act on, or reinforce, what they’ve heard; effective sessions vary approaches to content delivery
4. Provide modeling: delivering the sessions in a manner that mirrors intended content or skill aids in educators’ comprehension, engagement, adoption, receptivity and application of what they’ve learned
5. Are specific: customized and focused PD has a higher reported benefit to teacher practice and impacts on student learning
Other significant findings of the report include the most effective professional development focuses on developing critical thinking and problem solving and that support offered during implementation phases must address the dual roles of teachers as both technicians in research-based practices as well as intellectuals developing teaching innovations.
A sampling of PD offerings highlights areas of opportunity, notably, school visits, coaching and research:
Types of Professional Development Provided to Teachers the Previous Year
22% school visit
63% peer observation
Source: Darling-Hammond et al., 2009
The report reinforces the concepts of duration, intensity, specificity, modeling, and coaching throughout the implementation phase. The Educational Resource Center provides professional development that is customizable to your school or districts specific needs. The ERC recognizes the dual roles of teachers and offers serial PD sessions that model learner’s contexts. We are available for long term coaching through implementation. To discuss professional development or educational technologies, please contact Sherris Anne Schwind at