Teachers are taught the importance of catering to individuality in the classroom yet they are not met with the same treatment in the staff room. Staff culture within schools is complex and overall poorly managed. With long-serving teachers retiring early, the disruption of intellectual property not only affects student learning, but the development of teachers. Without that support from senior staff, the pathway to teacher development is convoluted. Professional development is a worthwhile, if not essential investment for education institutions – so why not be strategic about it?
One-size fits all style professional development is ineffective.
Use technology to innovate Professional Development and its accessibility.
Remove the barriers of time and space simply by using video, Facetime or making the development accessible online. Just like students, not all teachers learn, develop and practise in the same way. Creating new channels of learning for their development makes space for individuality in your staff and allows new ways for them to engage with the organisation. Research shows that teachers who feel supported in their roles are more likely to stay with the organisation.
No one teaching style is more legitimate than the other – each teacher is unique and their methods are valuable in their own unique way. Recording portions of classes is a great way to deliver personalised feedback as well as share teaching methods with other staff to share IP and create synergy.
Technology in combination with a comprehensive strategy can solve problems and create opportunities.
Make professional development interactive.
Get creative. Some schools have included peer coaching, which also reduces the burden of substitute teachers, if existing teachers have the opportunity to share IP with each other.
Including each teacher’s personal goals in professional development allows you to align them with your organisational goals and encourage intrinsic motivation. Developing your staff is about engaging them and giving them the space to grow for the school and more importantly for themselves.
Don’t add, take away.
Less is more sometimes. An overload of professional development is not only overwhelming but takes the value out of effective professional development. Allow teachers to take time to not only digest information and knowledge but actually implement what they learn into their practice. Without adequate time and space for teachers to implement and practise new ideas and concepts, teachers will slip back into old habits.
Compare engaging students to engaging teachers.
Like students, teachers learn and practise in their own unique ways. Some students are visual learners, some learn by practising. We cater to diverse students yet more often than not engaging staff is handled one-dimensionally. Acknowledge that teachers have their own styles and allow them to hone their strengths in the same way we encourage teachers to differentiate their practice.