Does professional development help teachers and students?

Carol’s Summary

It is popular belief that teacher quality needs to be enhanced in order to increase student success. In the last decade, many school districts have turned to professional development as a solution to fighting student problems. According to the articleProfessional Development for Teachers at Crossroads,” data analysis and research conducted over the last ten years shows professional development isn’t making much of an impact on student scores or teacher morale.

But, is it any wonder that a top-down approach wouldn’t benefit those at the bottom? Advocates for professional development are focusing on how to change the teacher, not how to make the teacher more effective for the student. Instead of a top-down approach — whereby the superintendent goes to the latest conference and brings back his or her new teaching approach, forces it onto uninterested teachers who must then relay it to their uninterested students — reformers should be focusing on student problems to help train teachers to be more effective.

In last week’s blog, “Changing Education Paradigms,” we discussed how the archaic education system isn’t designed for today’s multitasking student. A similar problem arises with professional development. If the system is ineffective, then why are we still using it? If  we know student problems are changing, then why are we convinced that maybe this year the old paradigm will work?

Article: Professional Development for Teachers at Crossroads

Perhaps no other aspect of the teacher-quality system in the United States suffers an identity crisis as severe as that of professional development.

Read the full article at: edweek.org

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