Professional development is essential to all occupations, but how it is negotiated, debated, contested and articulated in education is insightful. According to Nick Morrison, who reports on the Teacher Development Trust, a charity focused on raising awareness of the importance of professional development, professional development and learning needs to be meaningful. This report from the Teacher Development Trust aims to fill a gap in our knowledge about teacher learning. It has identified the following key elements of great professional development:
- Duration: effective professional development lasts at least two semesters, and needs a ‘rhythm’ of follow-up and consolidation;
- Targeted: the content should be relevant to the teachers’ needs and day-to-day experiences;
- Aligned: no single activity is universally effective – instead it is a combination that reinforced the message from different perspectives that works;
- Content: successful development must consider both subject knowledge and subject-specific teaching techniques;
- Activities: successful development features common types of activities including discussion, experimentation and analysis and reflection;
- External input: constructive external input provides new perspectives and challenges orthodoxies;
- Collaboration: peer support gives participants an opportunity to work together and refine new approaches;
- Leadership: effective leaders get involved in development, define opportunities and provide the support needed to embed change.
It is clear that current PD delivery needs to change.
“It needs to be embedded in a school’s culture, and rather than ticking boxes it has to be well-thought out and executed.”
Let’s start thinking!