Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Why do teachers need to be out of the classroom for Professional Development?

During periods of the school year staff may be out of the classroom, attending professional development opportunities.  Although we try to limit the amount of time our teachers are out of the classroom, this time is important learning time that directly benefits students and student achievement.

Teacher Professional Learning, when done well, includes the following components; (Information below cited from Center for Public Education http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/teachingtheteachers#sthash.CuCtnDmC.dpuf.)

•  "Short, one-shot workshops often don’t change teacher practice and have no effect on student achievement (Yoon et al, 2007; Bush, 1984).

•    In order to truly change practices, professional development should occur over time and preferably be ongoing. Studies show that effective professional development programs require anywhere from 50 to 80 hours of instruction, practice, and coaching before teachers arrive at mastery (French, 1997; Banilower, 2002; Yoon et al., 2007). 

•    Coaches/mentors are found to be highly effective in helping teachers implement a new skill. In coaching, teachers work with a master educator before, during and after a lesson, getting feedback on their implementation of a newly learned teaching skill. Numerous studies have shown coaching to be successful at changing teacher practice and improving student learning (Showers, 1984; Slinger, 2004; Knight 2007; Batt, 2009; Stephens et al., 2007; Knight and Cornett, 2009). Before coaching, however, teachers need to get a solid foundation of knowledge about the teaching strategy. This presentation of knowledge should be active, not passive (Roy, 2005; Richardson, 1998).  Further, modeling by the coaches has been shown to be very effective at helping teachers grasp a new teaching approach before they attempt implementation (Roy, 2005; Goldberg, 2002; Rice, 2001; Black, 1998; Licklider, 1997).

•    Professional development is best delivered in the context of the teacher’s subject area. Regardless of whether teachers are working with coaches or in professional learning communities, teachers need to be working with the content they teach. Teachers don’t find professional development on generic topics useful (Peery, 2002; Redding and Kamm, 1999; Dunn and Dunn, 1998).  However, professional development that focuses on teachers analyzing the specific skill and concept they’ll teach in their discipline is not only well-received by teachers, but has also been shown to improve both teacher practice and student learning (Bland de la Alas and Smith, 2007; Carpenter et al., 1989; Cohen and Hill, 2001; Lieberman and Wood, 2001; Merek and Methven, 1991; Saxe, Gearhart, and Nasir, 2001; Wenglinksky, 2000; McGill-Franzen et al., 1999; Darling-Hammond et al., 2009)."

Our staff will be participating in a variety of academic trainings that complement the work they are doing in their classrooms with students, is ongoing, parallels the work of teacher Professional Learning Communities as well as the work from the district Literacy and Math Instructional Coaches.

If your teachers are out for professional learning days - it's good news!  They're continuing to grow in their practice in order to provide the best support for our learners.

Questions?  Reach out to your child's teacher or feel free to contact me!

Love, Mrs. Leonard

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