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Professional Development for Teachers – 5 Common Mistakes

As teacher evaluation software providers, it pains us to hear from teachers and administrators who are unsatisfied with how professional development (PD) is occurring in their school or district. Evaluations are less effective if they aren’t tied to concrete, actionable means for teachers and staff to improve their skills. The approach to teacher growth is comprehensive, and requires ongoing conversation. As a part of that effort, here are five common pitfalls to avoid for better professional development for teachers.

1. Giving teachers conflicting goals for their PD.

This issue occurs most often when PD is not connected back to specific results from the evaluation process. Throwing out a laundry list of areas where teachers can improve is not going to help them address the specific points that they should be focused on, based on their teacher evaluation results.

2. Over-generalizing your school or district’s approach to PD.

Failing to customize PD plans based on teacher needs results in a PD program that lacks focus and direction. As this Edutopia article states, “No single professional-development practice, strategy, approach, method, or activity works well under all conditions.”

3. Not factoring in sufficient time to cover all PD goals.

It’s important that you allow for enough time to accomplish PD goals, but simply spending more time on PD won’t solve instructional problems in and of itself. That time needs to be applied effectively to the areas that need it most—administrators will need to keep track of the big picture PD goals for the upcoming school year  – hopefully with software that can gather this information with the click of a button,  in a clear, organized format.

4. Scheduling PD events or seminars that are too big and over-generalized.

It’s difficult to imagine that cramming over 100 teachers in a room for a two-hour seminar with a fifteen-minute Q&A will benefit each individual’s concerns and focus. Craft PD events that are specific and manageable, and that offer teachers an opportunity to communicate their personal concerns and questions.

5. Forcing PD through changes to the curriculum.

Simply adding a new aspect to the curriculum—more often than not a technological aspect—and expecting teachers to get up to speed won’t give you the results you’re after. Teachers look to you for the direction, time, and information that they need to adopt new methods in the classroom.

Next Steps:

Connecting your teachers’ professional development to what you uncovered from teacher evaluations is the basis for a positive PD experience. We want to help make that a manageable process. We at Standard For Success are here to help you with your Professional Development needs.  We have partnered with Educational Impact and Ed Leaders Network to provide schools with professional development contact. To view more information, please go to https://www.standardforsuccess.com/services-support/ or contact us at 844-SFS-EVAL ext. 1.

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