Good vs. Bad Professional Development

By sma.utoronto | Nov 7, 2013

There are many debates about what effective professional development (PD) looks like. Attached are some characteristics of good and bad PD. Please note that these are based on North American research, so some of them may not be universally applicable to all contexts. What do you think about these characteristics, especially in light of your own educational context?

Good vs. Bad PD
Research supports professional development that
• Deepens teachers’ knowledge of content and how to teach it to students.
• Helps teachers understand how students learn specific content.
• Provides opportunities for active, hands-on learning.
• Enables teachers to acquire new knowledge, apply it to practice, and reflect on the results with colleagues.
• Is part of a school reform effort that links curriculum, assessment, and standards to professional learning.
• Is collaborative and collegial.
• Is intensive and sustained over time.
Research does not support professional development that
• Relies on the one-shot workshop model.
• Focuses only on training teachers in new techniques and behaviors.
• Is not related to teachers’ specific contexts and curriculums.
• Is episodic and fragmented.
• Expects teachers to make changes in isolation and without support.
• Does not provide sustained teacher learning opportunities over multiple days and weeks.
Reference: Darling-Hammond, L., & Richardson, N. (2009). Teacher learning: What matters? Educational Leadership, 66(5), 46-53.

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