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The Relationship Between Professional Growth Opportunities and Teacher Impact

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"What greater joy can a teacher feel than to witness a child’s success?” ~ Michelle L. Graham

Teachers have the potential to change the world. They’re the ones who are in a position to influence and elevate young minds, inspiring them to become their best selves. For all their importance, teachers may sometimes struggle to find professional growth opportunities that make them feel valued and fulfilled.

At Alludo, we created an online learning environment for school districts across the United States. We understand that teachers who have professional growth opportunities thanks to a robust system of professional development have a profound impact on the students they teach because they have the tools and support they need to excel.

Table of Contents

  1. How Do Teachers Affect Students’ Performance?
  2. What is the Impact of Teacher Effectiveness on Student Achievement?
    1. When It Comes to Student Achievement, Teachers Matter Most
    2. Teacher Effectiveness is Tied to Performance, Not Just Background and Experience
    3. Professional Development Helps Teachers Make an Impact
  3. How Does Professional Development Boost Teacher Impact?
    1. Teacher Education is Important in General
    2. Professional Development Drives Impact
      1. Teaching Skills
      2. Subject Matter
      3. Teaching Methods & Innovations
      4. Student Learning Styles/SEL
    3. Professional Development Connects to Teachers’ Time in the Classroom
    4. PD Creates a Community of Professional Growth
  4. Alludo’s Take

How Do Teachers Affect Students’ Performance?

There are four key ways that teachers can impact their students’ performance both in and out of the classroom:

  1. Teacher impact goes beyond test scores. While it’s undeniable that test scores are important, teachers do much more than elevating scores. They can inspire students, improve their confidence, and give them the critical thinking tools they need to succeed throughout their lives.
  2. Improved motivation and attendance. Providing students with the motivation to learn and enhancing their non-cognitive skills can do a lot to help them excel in school. For example, students who are highly motivated are more likely to have good attendance records and good grades.
  3. Improved graduation rates. Students are most likely to drop out of school when they feel unsupported and unmotivated. Teachers who are enthusiastic about their jobs are most likely to motivate students to stay in school and prioritize their education.
  4. Better long-term outcomes for students. Finally, teachers who are fully engaged in the classroom can inspire the best possible long-term outcomes for the students in their care. A great teacher can affect every aspect of a student’s life, teaching them lessons they will carry with them wherever they go.

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It is impossible to fully quantify the impact that a great teacher can have on their students. A student who feels supported and inspired can do anything they choose to do.

What is the Impact of Teacher Effectiveness on Student Achievement?

Let’s dig a little deeper to understand how and why teacher effectiveness impacts student achievement. 

When It Comes to Student Achievement, Teachers Matter Most

It’s not hyperbole when we say that teachers have the potential to change the course of a student’s life. According to the Rand Corporation, teachers impact student achievement two or three times as much as any other school-related factor, including leadership, facilities, and services.

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Student performance on everything from math tests to overall GPA is likely to be better when committed and professional teachers are on the scene. Teachers who get professional growth opportunities in the form of PD and other resources are in the best possible position to positively impact their students.

On a related note, teachers can only impact students when they feel supported and valued. School districts can support teachers by giving them a choice and a voice in what they learn and how they teach their students, and by recognizing good performance and positive outcomes regularly. 

Teacher Effectiveness is Tied to Performance, Not Just Background and Experience

One of the things that can hold teachers back is when they are judged based on where they attended college or how long they have been in the classroom. In fact, assessing teachers based on factors not related to their performance can hinder professional growth and lead to teacher turnover.

The best way to maximize the impact that teachers have in the classroom is to observe their performance and balance it against student outcomes. Teachers that are rewarded for their enthusiasm and skill are more likely to stay in the profession and continue influencing their students for the better.

As we noted above, it’s important to recognize teachers’ efforts and performance in concrete ways. The Alludo platform has a built-in system of gamification that allows teachers to earn rewards for completing microlearning activities.

Alludo Platform

Professional Development Helps Teachers Make an Impact

Every teacher, whether they’re a relative newcomer to the classroom or an experienced veteran, has the potential to be transformative to their students’ lives. All they need is the right tools to help them reach their full potential.

Any school district that has a robust system of professional development that’s learner-driven and supports teachers’ professional growth will tell you about the impact that such a system can have. PD can help teachers gain new skills, pursue their passions, and connect with their students. Is it any wonder, then, that it can help to maximize teachers’ impact on their students?

The Alludo platform is learner-centered in its approach and can support both virtual learning and blended learning. Teachers can choose some of the activities they complete to learn new professional skills and sharpen their effectiveness in the classroom.

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How Does Professional Development Boost Teacher Impact?

Now, let’s talk about some of the specific ways that professional development can boost teachers’ impact on their students.

#1: Teacher Education is Important in General

Teacher education may sometimes be overlooked but it is essential for good teacher performance, positive student outcomes, and teacher retention.

Early studies of teacher professional learning found that it impacted student performance only in a minor way. But it’s important to note that, at that time, the focus of teacher PD was on classroom management and efficiency, not on topics that might help teachers connect more effectively with their students.

Over time, states and school districts have come to realize that teacher education has an impact that goes far beyond the time teachers spend learning. Rather than being a pro forma requirement, it has turned into something that has the potential to revolutionize education and elevate students.

#2: Professional Development Drives Impact

Professional development topics may focus on the impact teachers can have on students. Here are four examples to consider.

Teaching Skills

Learning basic teaching skills is always important, particularly for teachers who are new to the profession. Some examples of basic skills include classroom management, scheduling, and conflict resolution. These things might not be directly linked to student achievement, but they help teachers create an environment that’s conducive to learning. 

Subject Matter

Teachers specialize in subjects and when they do, they need continuing education to stay on top of new trends and topics. When a math teacher is provided with the opportunity to take math-related PD courses, they’re more likely to be effective when it comes to explaining complex concepts to their students and helping them perform well on tests.

Teaching Methods & Innovations

Teaching methods evolve and a teacher who’s struggling to connect with their students may benefit from learning new pedagogies and methods to help them break through a plateau. Likewise, teachers who are encouraged to innovate are more likely to do so, and PD can encourage innovation and experimentation to help students.

Student Learning Styles/SEL

No two students are alike. PD can help teachers understand different learning styles and allow them to engage with students who might not respond to the method they’ve been using. Along those same lines, Social Emotional Learning is essential because it helps teachers connect with their students on an emotional level and overcome barriers that may prevent them from learning.

District wide PD goals

#3: Professional Development Connects to Teachers’ Time in the Classroom

Effective professional development must connect to teachers’ time in the classroom. Your district can make professional development relevant by connecting it to your district goals, state and district PD requirements, and the curricula being used in your district’s classrooms.

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#4: PD Creates a Community of Professional Growth

Finally, professional development at its best creates a community of professional camaraderie and growth that encourages teachers to collaborate. Peer support is just as important as administrative support. When teachers are encouraged to form mentor/mentee relationships and to seek support from their peers, they’re more likely to have a positive impact on their students.

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Alludo’s Take

At Alludo, we focus on teacher impact every time we design a professional development system for a school district. We know that the right system – and the right motivation for teachers – can lead to the best results.

A case in point is the Yucaipa Calimesa Joint Unified School District. We got them to 100% teacher engagement by offering teachers the agency and flexibility they needed to get excited about professional development.

In addition to maximizing employee engagement, the YCJUSD also provided teachers with professional development opportunities by focusing on topics such as K-12 science, SEL, and math standards. With their limited resources, they could not have supported teachers and progressed district initiatives without making a major change. With Alludo’s help, they were able to make PD fun and accessible for teachers, so they could focus on meeting their professional goals.

Teachers in the district have the option to continue with PD after meeting the minimum requirements and that allows them to become virtual learning advocates for their peers.

District wide PD goals

Help Your Teachers Make an Impact with Professional Development

Professional development is about more than meeting state and district goals for continuing education. Teachers who participate in a robust PD program where they have a choice in what they learn and the option to pursue professional growth beyond the requirements are more likely to be engaged with their students and deliver the maximum positive impact for their students.

Experience personalized learning for all levels of educators with a free trial of Alludo’s professional development platform. You’ll enjoy:

  • Hundreds of core topics
  • Asynchronous microlearning activities
  • Timely and specific feedback
  • Analytics that show learning impact
  • Access anytime, anywhere

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