3 Ways to Make Professional Development More Effective

Everyone knows that PD, or professional development, is important. Yet many times it seems to fall short of the anticipated impact.

In a recent article, Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) shared her perspective from available research:

Highly effective classrooms can result from highly effective professional development. Recent research (Butler et al., 2004) has shown that effective professional development includes creating classroom content, modeling techniques for teachers to use in their classrooms, and feedback on lessons (Harris, Graham, and Adkins, 2015). It's not enough to teach the right things to your teachers -- you have to teach your teachers in the right way.

Intrigued? Below are three simple ways you can begin pre-planning to help increase the effectiveness of existing professional development programs and strive towards the definition outlined above.

1. Find the Focus
Early on in the PD planning process, there are always looming questions of what to focus limited professional development needs on. One way to determine important areas for development is using a needs-based assessment to:

  • determine most urgent needs
  • define a specific topic to concentrate on
  • segment needs to help determine how to best group staff for maximum impact
  • gauge current levels of implementation or existing knowledge

2. Breakdown the Basics
Whether or not you decide to utilize a needs-assessment, it’s important to have several key factors determined during the planning process:

  • identify core components that need to be included
  • organize content in a logical order that will make sense to your audience
  • factor in what is plausible within the allotted time
  • determine desired learning outcomes
  • decide what participants need to know BEFORE they arrive at the session

3. Segment the Sessions
To ensure time is not wasted, be sure to focus your professional development by content and audience. Consider setting up separate sessions to target specific grades, subject-areas, or other segmented groups—narrowing the focus, audience, or both, can quickly add relevancy.

The information shared above is a part of Atomic Learning’s online course, How Do We Plan with Purpose? A Look at Effective PD.  The complete course examines strategies for planning, designing, and follow-up for effective professional development, and includes insights on data-based planning, location and meeting set up, strategies for active staff engagement, and more.

Don’t have access to Atomic Learning? Request information on how you and your entire school can access this course and hundreds of others focused on leading change, shifting instructional approaches, and other highly-relevant topics.

Share this post