Teacher Professional Development and Instructional Quality
Professional development for teachers is crucial for improving instructional quality in the classroom. When teachers are given opportunities to enhance their skills and stay current on the latest research and strategies, it directly benefits students. Recent studies continue to support the connection between high-quality teacher training and higher student achievement (Darling-Hammond et al., 2017; Kraft et al., 2018). This article will explore some key aspects of effective professional development and its relationship to better educational outcomes.
One approach that has shown promise is instructional coaching, where experienced teachers or instructional specialists work closely with teachers, modeling lessons, providing feedback, and helping them implement new strategies (Kraft & Blazar, 2018). A meta-analysis of 35 studies found that instructional coaching had a statistically significant positive effect on teacher practice and student achievement (Kraft & Blazar, 2017). Coaching provides individualized support and allows teachers to get feedback specific to their own classrooms.
Content Focused Training
Professional development works best when it focuses on specific academic content and how students learn that content. Workshops or courses that are vague or too broad do not help teachers as much as those centered around the subject matter they teach daily (Darling-Hammond et al., 2017). Teachers need to understand common misconceptions students may have about a topic and the best ways to effectively explain concepts. Training should model how new strategies can be integrated into actual lesson plans.
When teachers have opportunities to collaborate with colleagues, it strengthens their practice. Workshops or professional learning communities (PLCs) allow for discussion of effective teaching methods, curriculum challenges, and student needs (Voelkel & Chrispeels, 2017). This kind of collaborative approach recognizes that teachers learn best from one another. It also builds collective knowledge among department or grade level teachers.
Sustained Training Over Time
One-day workshops are generally not as impactful as ongoing, sustained professional development that takes place over weeks or the entire school year (Darling-Hammond et al., 2017). For teachers to develop new skills and integrate new strategies, they need repeated training and practice over time. Sustained programs allow teachers to get coaching, feedback, and support as they work to implement changes in their classrooms.
In conclusion, high-quality teacher training focused on content, pedagogy and collaboration has been consistently linked to better student learning outcomes. Instructional coaching, content-specific workshops, PLCs, and sustained programs over time are characteristics of effective professional development models. When teachers improve their skills, students reap the benefits in the classroom.
Darling-Hammond, L., Hyler, M. E., Gardner, M. (2017). Effective teacher professional development. Palo Alto, CA: Learning Policy Institute. https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/product/effective-teacher-professional-development-report
Kraft, M. A., Blazar, D., Hogan, D. (2018). The effect of teacher coaching on instruction and achievement: A meta-analysis of the causal evidence. Review of Educational Research, 88(4), 547–588. https://doi.org/10.3102/0034654318759268
Kraft, M. A., & Blazar, D. (2017). Individualized coaching to improve teacher practice across grades and subjects: New experimental evidence. Educational Policy, 31(7), 1033–1068. https://doi.org/10.1177/0895904817693338 Write my thesis paper.
Voelkel, R. H., Jr, & Chrispeels, J. H. (2017). Understanding the link between professional learning communities and teacher collective efficacy. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 28(4), 505–526. https://doi.org/10.1080/09243453.2017.1299015