Every day, teachers and caregivers are the champions for our youngest learners. They develop relationships and help shape our children in immeasurable ways. We honor their courage, appreciate their work, and respect the value they bring when they walk into their classroom each day and work tirelessly to ensure our children are in safe, stimulating environments.
Who ensures every teacher has a champion?
Just as every child deserves a champion, so, too, does every teacher: someone who not merely roots for their success from the sidelines, but who provides the guidance and tools necessary to make big goals achievable. This support often comes from a strong program leader who wears many hats as a coach or administrator. Regardless of this person's title, however, they must be a leader who understands that a teacher can only provide children with all that they need when their own professional needs are being met.
Why does a champion for a teacher make a real impact?
One way we can support teacher quality is through job-embedded professional development that supports teachers in evaluating and growing their teaching practices.
Research shows that when teachers receive well-designed professional development of at least 30 hours spread over 12 months, they can increase student achievement. Spreading out the professional development over an extended period is important because it provides teachers with the space and time to reflect on their practice and try new strategies. The practice of ongoing professional learning is made even more powerful when teachers know that they have the support of a trusted guide with whom they have built a strong relationship and who provides them with rich learning experiences in a safe environment.
If you are thinking that quality professional development for teachers sounds a lot like quality learning experiences for children, you are correct! The same principles that apply for deep, rich learning for children also apply for learners of every other age.
What are the most important things to consider about professional development?
Like all learning, professional development for teachers that leads to true growth requires time and commitment from all parties. Single-session or "one and done" professional development that lasts 14 hours or less in total, results in non-significant effect on student learning.
Research (and common sense!) suggests that the most effective professional development for teachers incorporates five essential elements.
The five elements are
- collaborative learning opportunities;
- clear and supportive links to fundamental resources (i.e., curriculum and assessment);
- professional learning presented and practiced within the context of everyday teaching experiences;
- a mix of active and reflective learning, with deep dives into appropriate content as well as ideas for building a repertoire of effective strategies; and
- sustained learning over multiple days, weeks, and months.
Lastly, teachers need the daily assurance that they work with leaders whom they can trust and who will enable them to actually implement the best practices they learn through this ongoing professional development. Asking teachers, repeatedly and explicitly, "How can I help you feel confident and prepared?," will reiterate that, just as teachers are there to support children's development and learning, you are there to support theirs.
With guidance and support, teachers, coaches, and administrators can better define their roles in a successful implementation and become the confident, prepared professionals that all children need and deserve.
Teaching Strategies is with you every step of the way.
Get started with ease, maintain momentum with online courses, build best practices in personalized sessions, and create lasting impact with coaching. The pace and place are your choice. The path is focused on the children in your programs. Rest assured that you are confident and prepared from day one—even before you meet the children and families who will become your classroom community.
Learn more about Professional Development from Teaching Strategies.
Ready to find the right PD for your program?