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Are You Setting Good School District Professional Development Goals & Objectives?

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Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions. ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

Teachers know that learning is never wasted, but they also know that goals help to direct learning and motivate students. This mindset helps to guide what they do in the classroom but it should also guide what they do to improve their teaching abilities and knowledge of how to connect with students.

It’s for this reason that district-wide professional development goals for faculty and staff must be clearly defined and articulated. At its best, professional learning should allow all district employees to broaden their minds while also contributing to the improvement and excellence of the school district. Are you setting good PD goals and objectives? Here’s how to tell.

Table of Contents

  1. What are the Hallmarks of a Good Professional Development Plan?
  2. Are Your Performance Goals SMART?
  3. Considerations for Setting Professional Development Goals
  4. Examples of Good School District Professional Development Goals
  5. Alludo’s Take

What are the Hallmarks of a Good Professional Development Plan?

It’s impossible to set good professional development goals for your school district without first understanding the qualities that make a professional development plan effective. What makes professional learning objectives useful for teachers and staff?

Good PD Plan

Relevant

First and foremost, personal development must be relevant. When teachers learn new skills and theories, they should always be relevant either to their time in the classroom or to the district-wide goals that have been laid out for them. 

Relevance makes professional learning feel important and practical and will help to get educators on board with pursuing career development as a way of improving student outcomes.

Personalized

Next, an individual development plan should be personalized, meaning that it is created with input from your learners and takes their needs and wants into account. 

Giving teachers and staff agency in what they learn and how they learn it can make a big difference in how enthusiastically they participate in professional learning and how successful they are at achieving district goals.

Learner-Centered PD

Future-Facing

If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything, it’s that teaching must always be future-facing and adaptive. While nobody could have predicted the need for rapid adaptation to distance learning and Zoom classes, the experience highlighted the importance of agility and forward thinking for all district employees.

Professional development goals can’t predict the future but they should keep faculty and staff abreast of new technologies and pedagogies.

Challenging

Finally, employee development should challenge your learners, giving them access to new teaching methods and skills that will help them to engage with their students and coworkers and inspire them to learn.

When educators are challenged by career development, they are most likely to be excited about getting back into the classroom and making a difference.

Are Your Performance Goals SMART?

For professional development goals to be useful, they must adhere to the SMART rules. That means your goals should meet the following criteria:

SMART Goals

Specific

A nebulous career goal is worse than not having a goal at all. For professional development goals to be useful, they must be clearly-defined for both school districts, teachers, and staff. Everyone must understand what they are working toward and what is required to get there.

Measurable

Your employees cannot pursue district-wide goals if they are not measurable. That means you must have defined metrics that can be measured easily – and everybody must understand what those metrics are. District and school leaders charged with  creating and implementing PD should be able to monitor learner progress and generate reports to illustrate it.

Achievable

For a professional goal to be useful, it must be an achievable, realistic goal. That doesn’t mean goals need to be easy to achieve, but it must be possible for teachers and staff to get there. In many cases, that means a long term goal must be broken down into smaller ones, so everybody can see their progress and feel that the larger goals are within their reach.

Relevant

We’ve already mentioned that professional learning must be relevant and the same is true of professional development goals. To be relevant, goals must be reasonable and results-based, with immediate applications for teachers in and out of the classroom and staff in their daily job responsibilities. Employees are more likely to be enthusiastic about professional learning when they can see how to use it in their work.

Time-Bound

The final element of a SMART goal is that it must be time-bound. Without a deadline of some kind, the pursuit of goals may be slower than necessary. Most school districts and states have continuing education requirements for teachers every school year and in that respect, the time-bound aspect of goal setting should be easy.

Considerations for Setting Professional Development Goals

Before setting professional learning goals for your district employees, there are multiple factors that should be considered.

State Continuing Education Requirements

The first consideration involves reviewing the laws in your state to ensure you are incorporating legally required professional development. For example, the Massachusetts Department of Education has added a requirement for teachers to earn 15 Professional Development Points in English as a Second Language (ESL) and Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) and 15 points in effective schooling for teaching students with disabilities and diverse learning styles.

State-Mandated Testing

In addition to ensuring that the district’s teachers meet state licensure requirements, it’s also essential to incorporate professional development that will help students perform well on state-mandated testing. Most states now require students to undergo regular, standardized testing that measures their progress and proficiency in designated areas. While there is certainly criticism related to “teaching to the test,” school leaders and teachers must do what they can to help students prepare to be tested and perform well on the tests wherever possible.

District Goals

District goals may be directly tied to state goals and regulations or they may relate to goals decided by the school board, parents, and the community at large. In this way we’ve seen districts set PD goals that impact student engagement, dropout rates, college acceptance, and teacher retention, among other things.

Jurupa Case Study

Learner Input

The issue of relevance is one we’ve mentioned twice already, but it plays a role in determining district goals as well. School districts should consult with all the various types of learners, getting their input on which goals are most relevant and exciting to them. Getting faculty and staff on board with district goals can help to encourage compliance, increase career satisfaction, and minimize the amount of turnover, which can be costly and disruptive to school districts.

Examples of Good School District Professional Development Goals

It may be helpful at this point to look at some examples of good professional development goals we’ve seen our customers set and achieve through the Alludo platform.

Example #1: Technology

Distance learning has elevated the importance of technology in the classroom. In terms of goal setting, here is an example of a good professional development goal related to technology:

Teachers must choose one new app or technology per semester, complete the related training course, show evidence of learning, and use it in the classroom.

This goal is clearly-defined, easy to measure, and relates directly to teachers’ performance in the classroom and their ability to engage with students. At the same time, it provides teachers with the agency to choose which technologies to learn and how they will use these technologies with their students.

PD SMART Goal Example

Example #2: Student Learning

Any good teacher can tell you that no two students are exactly the same. Some students may learn best with visual aids, while others prefer to learn by reading. It’s essential for teachers to do what they can to accommodate different learning styles. Here’s an example of a related professional development goal:

During the school year, teachers will learn about X different learning styles and perform evaluations of students to determine their learning styles.

This goal encourages teachers to observe their students and apply what they learn in the classroom to help keep their students engaged and improve student outcomes.

Example #3: Special Education

Even when teachers aren’t leading special education classes, the probability is high that one or more of their students may have a learning disability or be on the autism spectrum. The district can help these students by incorporating special education goals into professional development. Here’s an example:

All teachers will complete one course to learn about the best teaching methods and strategies to engage students with autism and document their student interactions to reflect what they’ve learned.

This goal is designed to help mainstream teachers and special education teachers learn about how autism affects kids’ learning and what they can do to better engage students with autism.

Alludo’s Take

At Alludo, we believe that setting good professional development goals in your school district is a necessary first step to designing an effective and engaging learning environment for faculty and staff. 

By building points, badges, and gamification into our platform, we have seen great success in terms of learner engagement – upwards of 70-90%! When employees are enthusiastic about professional development, they are most likely to love their jobs, experiencing a level of fulfillment and satisfaction that minimizes turnover, helps achieve district-wide initiatives, and ultimately improves student outcomes.

Measure PD Effectiveness

It’s Time to Fine-Tune Your School District Professional Development Goals

Professional learning goals should be clearly-defined and highly relevant to the work that teachers do in the classroom and staff do in their daily roles. Good goals make better employees and better students.

Are you ready to take your district PD goals to the next level? Alludo is here to help! Click here to schedule a personalized demo to see what Alludo, the K-12 professional learning platform, can do for your district.