In our previous blog posts, we discussed the key components of effective professional development systems in K-12 education. We talked about needs assessments and goal setting, delivery methods, and the importance of evaluation and feedback. In this post, we will focus on the final two components: support and sustainability.
Support and Resources
Professional development is only effective if staff have access to the necessary resources, time, and support to effectively implement what they have learned. School and district leaders must ensure those they lead have the support and resources they need to apply their new knowledge and skills in their role. Unfortunately, many PD offerings are simply “check the box” activities that provide those attending nothing past what they can “sit and get”. Therefore, it is important to consider ongoing activities to support concepts presented during PD sessions.
This support can come in many forms, such as providing additional coaching, mentorship programs, or access to online resources. It is also essential to provide staff with sufficient time to collaborate and apply new strategies in their role. District leaders should create schedules that allow for regular PLC meetings or collaboration times as well as taking time to frequently check in on staff to gather objective data to drive adjustments that support PD initiatives and thus increase buy in.
In addition to access to resources and time, it is crucial to provide emotional support to their staff. Education is a challenging and emotionally demanding profession, and staff in any role may feel overwhelmed or frustrated when implementing new strategies. School and district leaders should create systems that allow a culture of support that emphasizes growth, collaboration, and risk-taking.
It should be noted that the language of this post has not been focused solely on teachers, but all school staff. All staff members are leaders in their own right and have a critical role to play in creating a positive school culture that supports student learning and community harmony. Providing resources and support to all staff members will enable them to carry out their roles more effectively and contribute to the success of the district as a whole.
Professional development must be ongoing and sustainable to support continuous improvement. Staff need opportunities to continue learning and growing throughout their careers to remain effective and engaged in their work. School and district leaders should create a culture of continuous learning that provides opportunities for professional development beyond initial training.
To promote sustainability, provide support to staff through coaching, mentoring, and role-based professional development opportunities. It is also essential to provide access to online resources and communities of practice, which can support ongoing learning and collaboration.
Sustainability requires a commitment from district leaders to allocate resources and time to professional development. It is important to create a budget that prioritizes effective PD and to allocate time for regular collaboration. When district leaders prioritize PD and create a culture of authentic continuous learning, it becomes easier to sustain and improve the effectiveness of PD programs.
Support and sustainability in professional development initiatives are crucial for all school staff, not just teachers. Access to applicable support and resources enables all staff members to carry out their roles effectively. Creating a culture of continuous learning and sustainability supports ongoing improvement and drives retention. Ultimately, by prioritizing effective professional development, school and district leaders can support all staff, which directly impacts success beyond the classroom and graduation.