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Why is K-12 Professional Development / Learning Important?

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When one teaches, two learn. ~ Robert Heinlein

Teachers provide a service that echoes far beyond the time they spend in the classroom. The best teachers do more than educate. They inspire. The very best teachers are also perpetual learners.

At Alludo, we believe that professional learning – a term we prefer to professional development – is the key to helping teachers do their best work. That’s why we’ve created interactive and engaging learning systems to provide teachers (and all types of other learners) with the tools and training they need to ignite their students’ imaginations and allow them to soar.

Table of Contents

  1. What is the Purpose of Professional Development?
  2. Professional Development & Teacher Retention by the Numbers
  3. What Are the Benefits of Professional Learning for Teachers?
  4. How Can You Improve Your Professional Development?
  5. The Alludo Take on Professional Learning

What is the Purpose of Professional Development?

Professional development and professional learning for teachers is required in every school district. The form that the learning takes may vary, but its overarching purpose is to help teachers – and all support staff – to be the best they can be for themselves and their students.

Of course, professional learning serves multiple purposes for teachers, administrators, staff members, and paraeducators, as well as parents and students. Done properly, a system of ongoing training can foster professional growth and development, improving students’ experiences and outcomes in the classroom and beyond. Here are some of the things that a well-designed professional development program can do.

Purpose of PD

Keep Teachers Informed of New Teaching Methods and Techniques

Teaching as a profession is not new but there are new teaching methods and techniques that teachers should understand. As our knowledge of how people learn expands, so should the ability of teachers to adapt to that understanding.

Improve the Overall Quality of Schools and School Districts

Teacher performance is most often measured by evaluations of the quality of their schools and school districts. Professional learning provides continuity in the classroom, allowing teachers, administrators, and school staff to excel at their jobs. Their excellence is reflected in the overall perception of their schools.

Ensure the Best Possible Student Outcomes at All Levels

Student outcomes are the truest measure of a teacher’s success. That’s not just an opinion expressed by superintendents. It’s also the thing that makes teachers enthusiastic about their jobs and keeps them going during challenging times. An engaged and enthusiastic teacher will spark students’ interest in learning. The right professional development program provides teachers with the knowledge and skill they need to shepherd students in the classroom and help them achieve their highest potential.

Ensure That Teachers Don’t Become Bored or Complacent

Even the best teachers and other district-wide employees may sometimes get complacent if they aren’t challenging themselves. Professional learning gives them the intellectual stimulation and growth opportunities they need to stay engaged and excited about their jobs.

Professional Development & Teacher Retention by the Numbers

Professional development is required in many professions and research shows that it improves performance at all levels. The Center for American Progress conducted a study that revealed issues with the way school districts handle their human capital – their teachers, administrators, staff, and all the stakeholders that contribute to the district’s performance.

There’s a close link between professional development and teacher retention:

  • 8% of all teachers leave teaching for another profession each year
  • An additional 8% switch school districts
  • The turnover rate for Title I schools may be as high as 50%
  • When schools hire less experienced teachers, a lack of proper training makes them 25% more likely to quit than teachers who are traditionally licensed

According to the Brookings Institute, teachers who are regularly evaluated are slightly less likely to leave their jobs than those who are not. There’s some reason to believe that evaluation, when it’s tied to areas for professional improvement and development, may actually improve teacher retention.

What Are the Benefits of Professional Learning for Teachers?

The National Education Association (NEA) is a proponent of professional learning for teachers because the organization recognizes that ongoing development is necessary for teacher and student success. Here are some of the most important benefits of professional learning for your faculty and staff.

Benefits of PD

Learners Gain New Skills and Abilities

When teachers participate in a well-designed professional learning program, they get exposed to new perspectives, teaching models, and skills. The things they learn are things they’ll carry with them back to the classroom, passing them on – in ways both tangible and intangible – to students. The same is true of professional learning for administrators and staff. New information and capabilities start with professional development and have a ripple effect that can last for a lifetime. 

Up-to-Date Methods

The teaching methods that were thought to be effective 10 or 20 years ago may not be valued in the same way today. Even a cursory look at the way math instruction has changed (or a conversation with a frustrated parent who doesn’t understand the “new math”) will tell you that. Teachers not only need to stay informed about the latest teaching methods and technologies, they also need to be able to articulate why these methods are preferred to students and parents.

Teachers Can Better Engage Students and Inspire Them to Learn

No two students are alike and teachers must be able to adapt to their students’ differing needs and learning styles if they are to be successful. When teachers engage in professional learning, they’re able to do a better job of identifying students’ strengths and struggles, modifying their teaching style to engage students, and getting their students excited about learning.

School Districts Improve Their Performance and Ratings

School districts of every size have a spotlight on them. The scrutiny they receive from school boards, community leaders, and parents can be intense and they need to rise to the level of what’s expected. Professional learning can help school districts to deliver the best possible education to students as well as a positive experience for parents and staff. Alludo’s professional learning system provides easy-to-measure metrics that enable school districts to track learners’ progress and performance.

Measure PD Effectiveness

Students Experience Positive Outcomes

When a student is struggling in school, it’s the job of teachers to see that struggle and determine the best way to get to a positive outcome, whether that means a different style of teaching, new tools and resources, one-on-one interaction, or a combination of the three. Professional learning encourages teachers to meet students where they are, helping them to get to the positive outcomes that they deserve.

Compliance Initiatives

Changing times also bring about changes in the rules and regulations that teachers and students must follow. The remote learning required by the COVID-19 pandemic is a key example, as administrators, teachers, and students all needed to adapt to a new paradigm of learning. Professional learning provides districts with an easy and measurable way to ensure compliance. Districts can develop and assign curricula, track learner participation, show evidence of learning, and rate their performance.

Teachers Stay More Engaged and Districts Improve Retention

Teacher retention is an issue for many school districts. When there’s a lack of professional development and guidance, teachers may grow frustrated and burn out – and when that happens, they’re more likely to switch jobs or even switch professions. A high-quality, interactive professional learning system like Alludo’s helps to keep teachers excited about their jobs and as a result, it also improves teacher retention.

How Can You Improve Your Professional Development?

Professional development has come a long way as educators and administrators have increasingly recognized that the traditional methods don’t work. Some school districts have not kept up with the changes in professional learning. The good news is that there are some simple changes you can make that will elevate your professional development program and help you to get the results you want.

Improve PD

#1: Use Modern and Engaging Models of Professional Learning

The best teachers find ways to make learning fun – and teachers are likely to be reluctant to engage in dry, one-size-fits-all professional development that doesn’t engage them. 

Instead of relying on the same old methods of professional learning, it’s time to try something new. Technology can and should be a part of professional learning, which is what we’ve done at Alludo. With micro-learning activities to fast-track learning achievements and performance badges to reward progress, learners stay engaged and eager to continue learning.

#2: Allow Learners Choice in What They Learn

It’s unavoidable for some professional learning modules to be required. Every school district has standards that faculty and staff must adhere to and professional development must address those standards. However, there should also be some freedom and flexibility.

Learners, specifically teacher learners, have a passion for their students and what would best help them. Allowing your teachers and faculty to choose some of what they learn is the best way we know to foster engagement and excitement about learning. We believe that our learner-centered model is the way forward, giving teachers room to grow and thrive in the classroom.

#3: Track Teachers’ Progress and Performance

Tracking teachers’ progress within your professional learning system is a must, because it allows school districts to provide help and support where it’s needed most. Traditional models often leave the majority of educators behind, because curriculum services leaders and educational technology leaders would only have the bandwidth to spend time with the learners who were either the most engaged or those who needed the most help (often only accounting for 20% or so of your learners!). 

With a digital, online learning community, it’s easy to see every single learner’s progression. If someone is struggling, you’ll be able to provide guidance and encouragement where necessary – and provide ongoing feedback to every learner in your district.

Jurupa Case Study

#4: Allow Teachers to Use What They Learn

One of the best ways to improve professional learning is to give learners the opportunity to put their lessons to work in tangible ways. While certain curriculum requirements may not be negotiable, teachers work best when they have the opportunity to use what they learn in the classroom.

The same is true of administrators, paraeducators, and staff. Learning new techniques and acquiring new skills is only beneficial if it's practical and useful. The right professional learning system can help teachers create a dynamic learning environment that benefits students, parents, and districts.

Alludo helps teachers show evidence of learning and professional learning leaders review and provide feedback. Alludo’s platform also provides a safe place for teachers to experiment and innovate strategies in the learning platform and prove out what will work in the classroom. 

The Alludo Take on Professional Learning

Alludo’s professional development platform is designed to create a new paradigm of professional learning for educators and support staff at every level. From administrators to teachers to teaching assistants and office staff, we believe that everybody can benefit from learning.

We’ve designed a model that’s learner-centered, engaging, and interactive. School districts can get every learner focused on district initiatives and give the learners the choice that will ignite them and keep them engaged. District professional learning leaders can create personalized learning pathways for each teacher and student learner with the modules they need and which micro-lessons they will require, as well as how many points learners must accrue to complete a module. By leaving room for learners to select lessons, activities, and tools to add to their professional toolkits, we encourage participation and enthusiasm. 

We’ll work with you to create a district-branded experience that makes learners feel at home. With our gamified model, learners feel invested in their learning journey. At every level they can earn badges, compete with one another, and get instant recognition for their participation. The feedback loop is easy for administrators to manage, so they can serve their entire learner community with proficiency. It’s a system that sets teachers and staff up for success.

It’s Time to Transform Professional Learning

Professional learning shouldn’t be boring or difficult to do or ineffective! At Alludo, we’ve designed an easy and engaging model that allows administrators, teachers, and staff at every level to achieve their growth goals and deliver outstanding performance that translates to positive outcomes for students and districts. When teachers have the opportunity to excel at their jobs, both they and their students learn – and everybody wins!

Are you ready to transform professional learning in your school district? Click here to schedule a personalized, interactive session with our VP of Customer Success that covers the latest strategies to measure district-wide PD effectiveness.