I just read this article by Steven W. Anderson where he discusses what he calls the lack of involvement from leadership on the professional development and the result of that. Source: Blogging About The Web 2.0 Connected Classroom: 3 Ways Leaders Can Support Ongoing Professional Development.
His experience is that after workshops teachers would complain that their leaders didn’t know what they were learning, or why they were learning it. Even worse, when leaders came to do walkthroughs or evaluations, they didn’t know what to look for to ensure the professional development was effective and implemented correctly. I would like to argue that this is not the case in Norway, but it probably depends on what kind of professional development we are talking about here. I understand that it is difficult for school leaders to keep up with the latest developments on the use of technology in class for instance. Even so, I would encourage all school leaders to follow Mr. Anderson’s advice.
- Be Involved In Planning-School and district leaders, at all levels, need to be involved from the very beginning in professional development planning. They need to be involved from the very beginning of the ongoing professional development planning process to ensure the learning is going in the right direction and stays on track throughout the professional learning cycle.
- Be Involved In Learning-The biggest failure by leadership I see in supporting ongoing professional development is the lack of involvement in the actual learning. I saw it all the time when I was leading professional development and still experience it to this day. How can a leader best evaluate the use of technology or a literacy program or implementation of a specific pedagogical technique if they weren’t somehow involved in the same learning the teachers participated in? This doesn’t mean leadership has to learn how to use the Chromebooks or Flipgrid or PBL to the same extent as the teachers but they do need to have an understanding of how they are used and implemented with students so they can identify strengths and gaps.
- Be Involved In Reflection-In order to make professional development truly effective there has to be opportunities to reflect and evaluate its overall impact. Those that deliver the professional development need to be open to the comments on feedback forms and evaluations to learn and grow. Equally important is the reflection done by the participants on their own learning during and after the professional development sessions have ended. School and district leaders must lead and participate in these conversations to ensure learning is on track and on target but to also decipher where the learning will go next.
These conversations might ask questions like:
- What are our strengths now that we’ve had this learning and are implementing it in the classroom?
- What weaknesses do we still have? How do we overcome them?
- This professional learning will be successful because…
- What support do we still need?