by Noverene Taylor EDD 9100-OL8 Leadership Seminar Nova Southeastern University October 19, 2006 Dr. Ron Parlett Professional development should aim at equipping all educators with the knowledge, expertise and skills to establish safe and orderly learning environments characterized by mutual respect in which academic learning and psycho/social development will occur. It should enable teachers to develop classroom management skills that support positive interaction and nurture students' capacity for self-management. We cannot expect teachers to teach what they do not know, or to use yesterday’s training to prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s future. Therefore, we need to create schools optimized for learning. In so doing, we will be helping all teachers to excel at helping all students to reach the highest levels of achievement they need to succeed. The following are considered suitable recommendations that can be incorporated in future professional development activities for the staff members within the writer’s work setting. Please click on each slide to view the information In order for teachers to improve instruction, professional development must be geared towards helping them to use and incorporate a variety of instructional modes, and theories of learning such as constructivism, and multiple intelligences. Teachers must also experience for themselves: 1. Hands-on activities 2. Discovery learning 3. Collaborative learning 4. Concrete manipulatives 5. Alternative methods of teaching, including collaborative learning, inquirybased instruction, and contracts. Instructional resources to support the school’s curriculum should be purchased. These resources should be utilized in the instructional programs that take place during the school day. Professional development should enable all teachers, regardless of the grade level at which they teach, to have at least one practical experience with diverse students ranging from special needs, such as, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), English as a Second Language (ESL) to high-achieving students. These experiences will enable the teachers to gain an appreciation for the continuity of subject matter content, as well as, the cognitive development of children. Teachers must be provided with the opportunities and resources to engage in ongoing professional development that fosters the use of instructional technology and its incorporation into the elementary classroom. These technologies include but are not limited to: digital cameras, audacity, animations, and TV studio. Learning how to effectively use technology in the context of the classroom does not happen overnight and so the need will arise where more time will have to be allotted for continual learning. Furthermore, this need for continuing support means teacher training must be ongoing and not limited to "one-shot" sessions. The technological training must have an instructional focus that guides teachers to think first about their curriculum and then helps them address how to integrate technology into the curriculum. When designing staff development sessions on technology, individual differences must be addressed and individual strengths. Teachers should also be allowed to visit each other’s classrooms to observe technology integration. If educators are going to be convinced to change their practice by integrating technology into their teaching, they must see the relevance of technology to what they do in the classroom. When teachers engage in ongoing reflection about what they have learned about the instructional use of technology, they are more likely to critically evaluate their own pedagogical practice and redesign their instruction. Collaboration must be encouraged for planning of lessons and ideas at the K-6 levels. Likewise, parents must be encouraged to play more active roles in their children's’ education. For example, being a resource person for a class, and becoming a part of school committees that require parental involvement. Although a number of collaborative learning approaches are available, team teaching and modeling have been most effective in transforming classroom application and practice. It is very effective and should be implemented because it does a better job of addressing the unique learning needs of learners. There is a need to recognize and support teacher efforts toward ongoing professional development through processes such as joint planning, and peer coaching. Professional development should focus on helping teachers to see the value of using alternative methods of assessment. Specifically, this means that teachers will assess students, not only by traditional written and oral examination, but also by a variety of means such as: 1. Portfolios 2. Journals 3. Performance tasks 4. Group projects 5. Oral presentations It must be ensured that methods of assessment used in classes be aligned with the curriculum in a systematic way, thus enabling students to understand the connection between instruction and assessment. Teachers must also be introduced to 360 degree evaluation as this method can help to identify their strengths and weaknesses and overall improve professional practice. If teachers are to feel good about taking time from their schedules to acquire new skills, they must be provided incentives, and recognition rather than road blocks. Although the means of such recognition could vary, possible incentives to facilitate teacher recognition may include: • Encourage the teachers to share their experiences through writing school magazine articles, sharing with new teachers, leading workshops, or other means. • Give rewards such as a thank you card, a pen of appreciation or much more! • Providing copies of the software and manuals that teachers are trained on. • Provide ongoing and systematic professional development. In order to equip our teachers for tomorrow’s future effective professional development activities must be of high quality, comprehensive, and ongoing. The focus must be on improving teaching and learning, rather than focusing on the individual. The changing nature of learning, however, presents a challenge to any professional development program since teachers should be trained to deliver instruction in a dynamic, interactive manner. Professional development should not be considered as an add-on but an integral part of school life. We cannot ask teachers to raise their standards without giving them the support and time they need to keep on learning. Professional development is of utmost importance because of the large numbers of children with diverse languages, abilities, needs, and cultures who fill our classrooms today. Because of these numbers, sound staff development programs are indispensable.