What Is Leadership’s Role in Professional Development?

State and district leaders can support continued learning for educators by recognizing their work and providing time.

When it comes to professional development in K–12 education, technology-focused PD sometimes gets deprioritized or even forgotten in favor of curriculum-focused development. To maximize the benefits educators receive when it comes to PD, school leaders should look for ways to combine tech and curriculum development.

For example, instead of going through two separate pieces of training for Microsoft tools and reading fluency, a school could offer one training focused on improving reading fluency using Microsoft programs like Immersive Reader. This saves time and eases the burden on school budgets by involving one trainer instead of two.

This type of purposeful PD integration comes from careful planning, which can best be achieved with the support of leadership at various levels. In addition to carefully planning integrated PD, administrators and local government leaders can support continued learning for educators through thoughtful scheduling, time allowances, and recognition.

Considerate Scheduling Helps Educators Complete PD Year-Round

School leaders should consult district initiatives and similar documents when planning PD for the coming year. This ties development to learning goals and gives leaders a North Star to follow.

In creating a professional development calendar, the administrator’s responsibility is to plan PD appropriately around the busy season. This means educators shouldn’t have required PD during holidays, the week before, or during testing.

Admins can also take community events into consideration. For example, leaders may consider rescheduling PD if the school football team is going to the playoffs or having a pep rally.

Admins Can Build In Time for PD

There are other ways school administrators can ensure educators have the time to complete professional development. They can schedule PD in a way that allows educators to prioritize it while still completing necessary administrative tasks. If there are two team meetings a month, admins can address business needs in the first meeting, so the second meeting focuses on PD.

Because knowledge sharing and practicing the new skills learned in PD is an important part of integrating skills into everyday practice, principals should work with their assistant principals and other leaders in their districts to provide educators time to lesson plan. Covering classes is another way to help teachers find time, allowing them to shadow their peers in other classrooms or complete asynchronous training.

Leaders Should Recognize Educator Accomplishments

Principals, superintendents, and other district-level leaders aren’t the only ones capable of supporting educators’ continued professional development. The Arizona Department of Education is working on a digital badge program for educational technology PD. It aims to provide educators with badges for completing a certain number of hours of relevant PD, which educators could feature on their resumes.

The Arizona DOE’s initiative highlights the importance of leaders knowing what educators are doing. Many educators are seeking their professional development through courses, conferences, and certifications, and recognizing their commitment to education can go a long way. That recognition could look like a laptop sticker, a badge for their classroom window, or having them share learnings during a future staff meeting.

When admins know their staff members’ capabilities, it allows them to share these learnings with their peers. Information shared at principals’ meetings, and similar forums can quickly lead to knowledge sharing in the community, making learning more accessible for everyone.