Professional development must be grounded in expectations and student needs to meet those expectations. The question becomes not "What do you want to do?" but "How do I prepare these students to be proficient?"
Our Perspective on Professional Development
In 1992, Kentucky assembled a cadre of "Distinguished Educators" (DEs) with the mission to assist underperforming schools. This group, although trained, tested and certified, were underprepared for such a massive task.
Most of these DEs had a "tool kit" of strategies and trainings they attempted to use with assigned schools. However, most ran into resistance upon implementation of those tool kits, and thus, results proved to be inconsistent at best. Poor school attitudes toward professional development were targeted as the issue, and trainings were again developed with this in mind. They were, again, met with resistance. What the DE’s came to understand was that schools’ utilization of professional development (PD) was inconsistent with philosophy of leveraging PD as a vehicle for change.
When these schools planned PD sessions, they considered state/district mandates, teacher preference, cost, calendar availability, training location or previous experience with the presenter. Some were driven by test scores or by issues that had accountability consequences for the district or school. In either case, PD was seen as a compliance issue. The expectation was that a teacher would attend, sign in and sit through it. Accountability was for attendance not change. Evaluation, if any was a participant "did you like it?" survey. The DEs had to change this culture to get PD established as a driver of institutional change and that issue dogged their efforts as long as the program existed.
Educational Directions knows that “best practice professional development” should be output not input driven. This shifts the focus to student performance demands rather than the common emphasis on teacher performance changes, which are unrelated to the student expectations.