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Take Control of Your Professional Development

Posted by on in Professional Development
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Are you sick of “professional development experts” that are flown into your district at an exorbitant price tag to deliver long sit and get trainings that are often over before the expert gets back home? Who has the money or the patience for this antiquated practice? Not me! Who are the professionals/experts in your building? You are! Who knows your students and school wide needs better than you do? No one!

Leverage the talent within your building through a formalized peer observation process that puts you, the teachers, in charge of your own professional development. Questions you should ask yourselves are:

Are we getting the results that we want? If so, what are we doing to provide sustainability for these practices as teachers come and go?

If we are not getting the results that we want, what are we doing to change the tide?

Peer Observation provides a supportive, non-evaluative niche for all teachers on a staff. Regardless of the focus or need of the school the follow up from the initial roll out can be delivered through this on-going process that is run by teachers delivering effective feedback to the teachers. Open up the doors of the classroom and teach in isolation no more.

Peer Observation satisfies all of the components of high quality professional development. It is ongoing, job embedded, with opportunities for modeling, practice, and feedback. It operates from a foundation of trust and reflection. It puts you, the teachers, in charge of your professional development and empowers you as the experts in the building. What is not to love? 

In reality a principal does not always have the time to reflect and give feedback to all teachers on a regular basis. This process is the essence of a shared leadership model. It requires trust upon the part of the principal as he/she needs to let go of the reins a bit to let the magic take place. And the magic will happen for no one wants to succeed more than you, right?

Collaborative discussions become reflective with a bi-directional learning component taking place. As you, the teachers, observe each other you are also gauging the effectiveness of the instruction against your own teaching. Feedback sessions become epiphanies for all in the room. The staff turns into a legitimate think tank within the building. Creativity, innovation, and inquiry blossom. You will feel empowered and the morale will increase across the building.

Take back your school and your professional development dollars. Purchase books instead with the money you will save by running your own professional development. We’ve turned around three schools with this process that has not only increased student achievement and student growth, but it has raised morale, established a culture of collaboration and professionalism in the buildings. This process will help you to find the answers you have been looking for, support new initiatives, and fine tune old ones. It will help new teachers get off to a great start immediately and all involved will participate in not only the what and hows of teaching but the whys as well.

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Dr. Cathy Beck @cathypetreebeck has been in education for the past 27 years. She currently works as the assistant superintendent in Summit County, CO. Cathy is the co-author of Easy and Effective Professional Development. She has a new book,Leading Learning for ELL Students, which will be available in early 2017. Cathy is also an adjunct professor for Concordia University and the American College of Education.

  • Guest
    Rusul Friday, 07 October 2016

    Thanks DR. Cathy, such a good and interesting article.

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