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Many professional development efforts are organized as a smorgasbord of courses offered to educators. The district measures the effort's effectiveness by how many courses staff complete or how satisfied teachers are with the classes offered. District leaders who use the smorgasbord approach may view professional development as an extra that potentially helps an individual's performance but is not absolutely essential. They probably invest little in professional development planning because they don't expect great results.
Other district leaders recognize how much professional learning contributes to the district's learning goals for students, and so they align individual, team, school, and system learning plans. At each level, participants consider what outcomes they want for students, the knowledge and skills teachers need, and the professional learning that will help staff achieve the system goals.
To be results-driven means following Stephen Covey's advice (1989): "Begin with the end in mind." Once student outcomes are selected, professional development leaders identify the knowledge and skills adults need to help students achieve the district's standards of success. The knowledge and skills linked to the student learning goals become part of the comprehensive professional development curriculum
In too many schools, staff development is limited to teachers attending workshops, courses, and conferences. School districts can no longer afford staff development efforts that are predominately "adult pull-out programs." That kind of learning alone will not produce high-level results. Schools will achieve high levels of performance when professional learning is embedded in every school day.
abubnic on 2008-08-19Professional development planning focuses attention on how the system as a whole and individuals must change to achieve the district's goals. Rather than being outlined in its own plan, comprehensive professional development becomes a compilation of plans, each supporting different district and/or school priorities. These individual plans are most effective when they attend to what we know about effective professional learning and ensure that staff development is results-driven, standards-based, and focused on educators' daily work.