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How to Communicate the Importance of Professional Development For Teachers
By: Julia Francis on Oct 14, 2021 2:00:00 PM
It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge. ~ Albert Einstein
Professional development is essential for teachers if they want to connect with their students and maximize the impact of their teaching. Even when teachers are engaged and committed, it’s still necessary for district and school leaders to communicate clearly and effectively about what’s required and why it matters.
At Alludo, we work with school districts every day to help them develop meaningful professional learning communities for their teachers, administrators, and staff. With that in mind, here is some information that can help you communicate the importance of professional development for teachers.
Table of Contents
- What are the Benefits of Professional Development of Teachers?
- What Are the Qualities of Effective Professional Learning for Teachers?
- How to Improve Professional Development for Teachers
- How to Talk to Teachers About Professional Learning
- Get Teachers Excited About Professional Learning
What are the Benefits of Professional Development of Teachers?
One of the most exciting things about professional learning for teachers is that the benefits accrue to everybody involved in education. School districts, superintendents, and administrators get the benefit of improved reputations and rankings. Teachers become better at their jobs and that’s reflected in their students’ outcomes. When teachers have impact on student outcomes, they are happy and continue to make a difference where they are. This teacher retention benefits the district, the school, and most importantly – the students.
PD Boosts Educator Confidence
To be effective, teachers must have confidence in their ability to communicate new ideas and concepts clearly, keep students engaged and interested in what they’re learning, and deal with any challenges that arise.
Any professional development program worth its salt will help teachers to feel confident and secure in their ability to do their jobs well. The more knowledge and training they bring into the classroom, the more dynamic and engaging their classes will be.
PD Helps Teachers Set and Achieve Goals
When any person wants to improve, setting achievable and measurable goals is one of the best ways to do it. Any effective professional development plan should include goal setting. Ideally, it should break down long-term goals into steps, making it easy for the teacher to see their progress.
At Alludo, we’ve built gamification into our professional learning model. Participants receive badges and recognition to show their progress, keeping them engaged and interested in what they’re learning all of the way to realizing their goals.
PD Increases Teacher Knowledge
The world of education and instruction is changing every day and teachers, staff, and administrators all need to build their knowledge to be more effective in their jobs. The COVID-19 pandemic illustrated the need for new knowledge, and teachers worked diligently to learn new technology and adapt to new learning environments.
A robust system for teacher development helps new and experienced educators to build a toolbox that they take with them into the classroom, allowing them to connect with students and communicate effectively.
PD Improves Student Outcomes
Perhaps the most important benefit of a professional development course is that it can be linked directly to improved student outcomes. Students who have engaged, active teachers who constantly strive for impact, are more likely to perform well in school and on standardized tests.
Student achievement isn't linked only to grades and scores. They are also likely to be better citizens and better critical thinkers, which benefits everybody, including their parents and society at large.
What are the Qualities of Effective Professional Learning for Teachers?
Understanding the benefits of professional learning for teachers is only useful insofar as school districts use that knowledge to create a professional learning environment that is effective and keeps teachers engaged. Here are some of the qualities that typify effective professional development for teachers.
Teachers, administrators, and staff are most likely to be enthusiastic about professional development if it’s learner-centered. What that means is that there’s a focus on the learner, specifically on providing them with a dynamic learning environment where they have some degree of autonomy and their needs are met. Professional learning should be relevant to the learner, at their level, and easy to manage.
Professional development must be engaging to be effective. That means stepping away from dry lectures and one-size-fits-all learning models and bringing professional development into the modern era. When professional learning is engaging, teachers are more likely to be enthusiastic about it and see it through until their professional learning goals are met.
Any well-designed learning environment must have measurable results. That means having an easy way to track learners’ progress through microlearning activities and determine that they have grasped the material being taught. Then being able to see those results from different lenses – by teacher, by school, by district, by topic, by district initiative, and so on. That’s why we built measurability into the Alludo platform, so school districts can measure their results and see the impact professional development is having on initiatives specific to them.
Usually, the ratio of educational services and educational technology leaders to the teachers and staff for whom they are curating content, is few to many. Professional development leaders are often spread thin. An efficient professional development system helps them provide support for every learner. Also, required professional learning should be short and to the point, so teachers and staff can maximize their time in the classroom.
A responsive system is one that recognizes the specific challenges that teachers face and gives them the knowledge and tools they need to meet them. Whether the challenge is technology or social emotional learning or the need for other positive behavioral interventions and support (PBIS) or something else, it’s essential to tailor your program to the needs of your educators if you want to get good results.
Effective teacher professional development is supportive of teachers and their needs. Teachers want to know in real-time if they understand the material, they are motivated by encouragement, and they want the opportunity to go deeper. Teacher professional learning must be flexible, allowing teachers to pursue goals relevant to them right now and get timely feedback on their performance.
How to Improve Professional Development for Teachers
If school districts want to improve professional development for teachers, the best method is to look at the qualities of effective professional learning for teachers and use those things as a guideline. Here’s a breakdown of what you can do to create a learner-centered professional development environment for teachers in your district.
Give Teachers a Voice and a Choice
A big part of creating a learner-centered environment is giving the people who will be using it a voice in deciding what the system will look like and a choice in what they will study. For example, you might get teachers’ input on what skills and knowledge would help them do a better job in the classroom, and then allow them to self-direct their studies where it makes sense.
Set Relevant Goals
The best professional development for teachers ties directly to the time that teachers spend in the classroom with their students. Getting teacher input increases the chances that you’ll focus on relevant learning because teachers and other educators will tell you what they need to engage their students and deliver positive outcomes.
Minimize Their Time Out of the Classroom
Whether someone is working in your school district as a teacher, paraeducator, or office worker, their time is valuable – and it should be treated as such. Teachers already spend a lot of time outside of the classroom creating lesson plans, grading assignments, and thinking about their students. Professional learning should be efficient, with short lessons that are easy to fit into a teacher’s busy schedule.
Give Teachers the Tools They Need to Respond to Challenges and Changes
No classroom is static. For that reason, teachers must have the agility to respond to the changing needs and challenges that present themselves. In other words, your professional development plan should include the kind of training that allows teachers to cope with the unexpected.
Recognize Learners’ Efforts
It’s human nature to want our efforts to be acknowledged and recognized. Nobody enjoys the feeling of putting their time and energy into something without seeing results. For that reason, it’s a good idea to build a system of feedback and recognition into your professional learning plan, so that teachers feel that their efforts are seen.
How to Talk to Teachers About Professional Learning
How should you talk to teachers, staff, and administrators about professional learning? Here are some pointers that may help:
- Engage in open and clear communication about requirements and goals. Nobody who’s engaged in professional development should wonder what they’re required to do and what goals they’re working toward. Communication may be made to an entire group or one-on-one, but it should leave teachers with no doubt as to what’s expected of them and why it’s expected.
- Allow for self-directed learning. Some learning modules may be required of all teachers, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, teachers should also be allowed to self-direct some of their learning. By allowing participants to choose courses that they believe will be helpful to them in the classroom, you’ll increase teacher engagement and get the best possible results.
- Tie PD to what happens in the classroom. Every teacher has heard a student ask about how what they’re learning will relate to their lives outside of the classroom. Teachers feel that way too when it comes to professional development. They want to feel that what they’re learning is relevant, and communication is a two-way street. Find out what teachers want and then give it to them in a way that benefits everybody.
- Tie professional learning to student outcomes. Many educators recognize that the true measure of student outcomes is her or his confidence and contribution to the community. Even so, schools and school districts are assessed and funded according to how students perform, including GPAs, standardized test scores, and college acceptance rates. Whenever possible, link teacher professional learning to student outcomes to see the impact your professional learning has.
- Make PD fun and interactive. Professional learning may be required, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be enjoyable. Increasingly, school districts are moving to digital and interactive learning environments that teachers enjoy. When they are all in it together, there’s a spirit of fun and community that can take on a life of its own.
- Provide incentives for learning. Let teachers know that their efforts are noticed and recognized. Incentives may include a digital badging system that rewards progress at each level of learning as well as things like gift cards to let teachers know that their hard work is appreciated.
The more teachers feel that they have a say in what they learn and how they learn it, the more likely they are to participate eagerly and enthusiastically. Your communication about the importance of professional development for teachers should focus on the benefits and rewards of participation, building excitement in the people who will be using your system.
Alludo’s Take on the Importance of Professional Learning
At Alludo, we believe that teachers should be at the center of any professional learning plan. They’re the ones who are in the classroom with students every day, and it’s their input that should direct what they learn and how they learn it.
The Alludo system is learner-centered, which means that we’ve created a system that teachers love:
- Short, engaging lessons that are interactive and directly relevant to what teachers experience in the classroom.
- Self-directed learning, so that teachers can choose some of what they learn and put their new knowledge and skills to work for their students.
- Gamification for a fun and interactive experience that fosters a community of learning and takes professional development into new territory.
- A built-in system of badges and recognition, so that teachers can easily view their progress, track their results, and get rewarded for completing lessons and microlearning activities.
- Easy tracking for school districts, so that teacher, school, and district progress can be assessed.
We believe that teachers deserve the very best in professional development – and we’re here to provide it.
Get Teachers Excited About Professional Learning
Professional learning shouldn’t be dry and dull. By communicating clearly with teachers and other learners, including administrators and staff, school districts can foster a professional development environment that benefits everybody.
Want to reach up to 100% PD in your district? See how Alludo can help make it happen with our free professional development platform trial, including:
- Hundreds of core topics
- Asynchronous microlearning activities
- Timely and specific feedback
- Analytics that show learning impact
- Access anytime, anywhere
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